Mala beads have a spiritual purpose in ancient East Asians religions. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism all use mala beads for the purpose of enhancing the meditative practice. In India, the use of mala beads goes as far back as the 8th century BCE. The word “mala” simply put means garland in Sanskrit. However, they are used not to adorn oneself although that can be a secondary purpose. Instead they are used as a counting tool to repeat mantras or chants during your meditation.
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What is Japa Meditation?
The act of repeatedly reciting a mantra or chant is called japa meditation. People will interchangeably use prayer beads or japa beads to refer to the same thing. They are an excellent way to refocus the wandering mind that is inevitable in meditation. Mala beads are similar to the Catholic rosary. Both are used to count through mantras or chants at each “stop” or bead. The mala bead has 108 beads and an additional guru bead. The guru bead binds both the student and the teacher (guru) together in practice.
What are Mala Beads or Japa Beads used for?
Mala meditation beads are used to enhance your japa (reciting a mantra) meditation. Use you mala beads to help guide you with your chanting or mantras. This reduces the pressure to remember how many times you have already chanted your mantra.
Why are there 108 Beads on a Mala?
The 108 beads are used to recite the mantra or the chant 108 times. The significance of the number 108 goes back to the Vedic tradition in India. The vedas relate the number to the wholeness and oneness of existence. There is a correlation to the average distance between the moon, sun to the earth that also gives some explanation to this number.
What are the Benefits of Mala Beads?
- The ultimate use of mala beads is to focus your meditation on your chant or mantra
- It actually increases your focus. When your mind and body are focused on the mantra and the beads without having wandering thoughts.
- It easily tracks your chants for you.
- The act of touching the beads that are infused with energies, causes a connection during your mantra. This connection makes your meditation extra powerful
- Wearing the mala beads close to your heart/chest can actually be a daily reminder of your intentions. That reminder keeps you from veering off your path.
- A mala that carries energy can be a source of healing to you.
How to use Mala Beads for Meditation?
- Sit in a comfortable position – either in lotus pose, or on a chair with both feet rooted on the floor.
- Take your mala beads in both your hands (in prayer position), bring towards your chest, and close your eyes.
- Set the intent for your meditation.
- Bring the mala beads into you right hand. Start at the first bead (not the guru bead) – and recite your chant.
- When you get to the end of your 108th bead – sit in your continued meditation or bring the beads to prayer position back to your chest and end your session.
- Open eyes and carry on with your day.
Is it okay to Wear Mala Beads?
While the mala is not meant to be worn, there is no reason not to wear it. In fact, depending on what stones/seeds the mala is actually made of will energetically affect you when you wear it. From that point of view, it is more important to make sure that if you are wearing the mala, make sure it is carrying the right energy for you.
Make sure that you remove the mala beads when you shower or sleep. Keep it in a place to “replenish” its energy from the moon or sun, daily.
How do you Choose Mala Beads?
Mala beads are made of different material including seeds, wood, and gemstones, it is important to find the right one for you. There are many reasons why you don’t want to get a mala bead that carries an energetic level that will aggravate you.
Without going into too much detail here, the easiest way to get the bead that is right for you, is to go with your intuition. When looking at beads, find out which out you are drawn too. Look at which one causes a sense of peace within you. If it is causing you some sort of agitation, you know its not right for you.
If you are more aware about your chakras and what state they are in – pick a mala based on that. Read about chakras here and find out what color chakras are disturbed within you. Based on that you would want to get the mala beads that bring your chakras back into balance. One of the easiest ways to get the one that is right for chakra imbalance is to work with someone who is in the field of energy. Reach out to someone in vedic spirituality (anyone from the Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism can help too).
What Mantras can I Recite during a Mala or Japa Meditation?
There are different mantras for different purposes, but to get into the mode of practicing a chant or mantra that have overall health you could use one of the two mantras below.
- So, Hum: you can use the “so” when taking a breath in and “hum” when breathing out.
- Om, Shanti: recite Om for all 108 beads, and end with 3 shanti’s.
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The use of mala beads continues to live on in a lot of spiritual traditions. They are very powerful tools to use to not only help you keep focused during your meditation, but depending on what type of bead you work with, you will be energetically taking that into your subtle being. When purchasing your mala beads, get it from a reputable source. You don’t want to get plastic or some other material other than the ones listed above in this article. The reason you want quality beads, is as mentioned before, the energy will affect you in one way or another. And when you are meditating, you want to have the purest form of good energy for what your mind and subtle body require.
Are you going to try a japa meditation?
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