Mala is a simple string of beads used in meditation to count mantras, prayers or intentions. This meditation is called Japa meditation. Mala is a tool to keep the prayer’s mind focused and clear from thoughts while meditating. Used in Buddhism and Hinduism for centuries, Malas were traditionally made from the seeds of the Rudraksha tree. According to Vedic Scriptures, Shiva once went into deep meditation for the wellbeing of all living creatures. When he woke up, tear drops welled down from his eyes on realizing the suffering of living creatures. On reaching the earth, these tears took the form of seeds that germinated into Rudraksha trees. The dry seeds from this tree form the sacred Rudraksha beads.
The traditional Mala necklace has 108 beads plus “Gugu” bead with an attached crystal or tassel. Each bead evokes an energetic frequency based on its material, whether stone or seed.
The Guru bead provides a starting and ending point for counting the repetitions of mantras or prayers during meditation. Guru beads are found at the bottom of a Mala necklace, connecting the beads to the crystal/tassel. In Sanskrit, the world “Guru” translates to “Bringer of light.” Having a Guru bead as part of a Mala necklace honors the relationship between student and teacher. In traditional Buddhist culture, tassels are a symbol for lotus blossoms, which represent and promote enlightenment. For centuries, tassels have also served as a talisman that represents power, protection and spiritual connection.
What is the Significance of 108?
The number 108 has a range of significance across many different cultures and disciplines.
- Sanskrit alphabet has 54 letters. Each letter has a masculine (Shiva) and feminine (Shakti) energy 54 X 2 = 108
- Desires. There are said to be 108 earthly desires in mortals.
- Time. It is said we have 108 feelings. 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future.
- Astrology. There are 12 constellations and 9 arc segments. There are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 X 9 = 108
- The diameter of the sun is 108 times the earth.
Can I use Mala?
Malas are not only for traditional use. You don’t have to be religious, spiritual or reflective for wearing the bright and colorful necklaces. Many people are also embracing the healing qualities and inner peace found when wearing a mala. You can use a Mala for daily meditation, a reminder of intention or simply a manifestation of beautiful in the jewelry world.
Malas mean many different things to different people.
How to wear my Mala?
Wearing a new Mala for 40days is great way of attuning your energies with it. This process also provides a great time to break old patterns and build up a good habit of practicing meditations on a daily basis. Mala should never touch the ground. The belief is that touching the ground removes the energy and intentions you set in your Mala.
Wearing Mala as a necklace is the most convenient and conformable way. You can even layer multiple gemstone necklaces along with mala to channel the metaphysical energies.
Wrapped necklace may be worn on whichever wrist feels most comfortable. In India some cultural practices would suggest you wear it on the right wrist. Tibetan Buddhists wear their Malas on either hand, left or right.
How to use my Mala?
Hold your Mala in your right hand, draped between your middle and index fingers. Starting at the Guru bead, use your thumb to count each smaller bead, pulling it toward you as you recite your mantra/pray. Do this 108 times, traveling around the Mala, until you once again reach the Guru bead. The Guru bead should not be counted with the other counting beads and it should not be passed over. Flip the Mala around and continue counting. If you are reciting your mantra in repetitions, or want a longer meditation, flip the mala around once you reach the guru bead. Take the Mala and turn it so the guru bead is just below your thumb. Once repositioned, continue counting each bead as you have done throughout your meditation or mantra recitation.
Each mala should be used for only one mantra. If you would like to recite multiple mantras in one meditation, try to have one mala for each mantra.