Taming the monkey mind, and enhancing self awareness: isn’t that something we’d all like to achieve in this fast paced world, with information overload, scrolling and ever-changing news? Here is a tool for that:
One sun salutation yoga sequence for every bead that I put on the string, I made my first mala under the instructions of a Korean monk during a stay in a Korean Monastery many years ago.
A ritual that left me aching for days, but the achievement of focus throughout stringing the pearls left a big impression on me and it got me to dive deeper into the world of meditation, breathing, mantras and stillness of the mind.
108 beads: Whether movement is involved or not, meditating through those 108 beads (the word beads comes from the anglo-saxon term “bede” which means “praying” / “to pray”), requires some focus and patience, calm and stillness, which doesn’t come natural in the modern society we are living in. And that’s probably why we need this even more – to invite calm, stillness, pause and healing into or mind and bodies.
Malas are found in both Hinduism and Buddhism beliefs, and the Christian equivalent is the rosary. Its purpose is to assist in meditation in counting breaths, reciting mantras or prayers. Having a practice of Mala meditation can help us focus or stay calm.
The number 108 has been a sacred number for a long time, and it is explained in many different ways:
Hindus believe that a mantra is chanted 108 times because each chant represents a spiritual journey from our material body to our highest spiritual self. It is also argued that the Sanskrit alphabet has 54 letters, each a Shakti (female) and Shiva (male) quality. Multiply 54 by 2 = 108.
In Buddhism, there are 108 human passions that impede enlightenment. Some suggest there are 108 feelings: 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present and 36 related to the future.
In Yoga, a sequence of 108 Sun Salutations is completed to welcome change, i.e. the passing of the seasons from Spring to Summer, to welcome a new year, or in times of adversity, for reflection and to bring harmony.
There are other symbolisms in Astronomy, etc, too, which you can read up on in your own time, if you’d like to find out more.
How to use your mala beads
Hold your mala in one hand, usually the right. The mala is held resting over the third finger of the right hand, and the beads are brought toward you, one by one, using the thumb.
Each bead counts one repetition of the mantra, the breath, or prayer. When you get around to the guru bead, you don’t count it, and you don’t pass it; you stop there, mentally bow to the guru, flip the mala around, and start going back the other way.
Malas often have 3 counter beads at 27 bead intervals. The counter bead is a good place to refocus when your mind has drifted, or to stop chanting and resume later.
Why use Mala beads?
The use of the beads slows down respiration, which can improve overall health and wellbeing.
The Mala Mantra Meditation can help replace negative thinking patterns with positive ones.
Mala beads can help you stick to your sense of purpose in life.
How else can a mala be used?
To practice and count deep breathing.
To count or chant a mantra
It will provide grounding while meditating.
During Yoga practice.
As worry beads for anxiety.
To heal grief and practice Self Love.
To set positive affirmations.
To manifest intentions and goals.
There are so many more uses. Use your intuition to find the perfect use for you. I personally have my beads on me most times, if not around my neck, then in my pocket or bag. I find it calming to touch, as a breathing reminder, and I will use them for meditation as a calming tool, eg while travelling.
By the way, the Sanskrit word Mala means “Garland” in English.
Examples of Mantras that can be used
I am love.
I am joy.
I am worthy.
Or my favourite: You are stronger than you think.