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Meditating with Malas

Japamalas or Malas are beautifully made strands of prayer beads, typically having 108 beads, to assist in mindfulness during meditation practices. We use them as a devoted offering of the mind in repeated cycles. Using mala beads dates back to the 8th century B.C.E. where old seers of India saw the struggles of concentration, well before we got here with our chaotic lifestyles, and found a symbolic solution. There are many around the world, close to 2/3, that use prayer beads, rosary beads, or worry beads to aid in their spiritual practices today.


In Sanskrit the word mala means garland. Just as the lei is in Hawaii. The lei is made of flowers strung together and placed around ones neck to show affection, such as love, honor, friendship or respect. The mala is also typically worn around the neck and each mala holds different meanings based on the stones or beads used. The word Japa means repetition which explains the repeating nature of counting all 108 beads on the mala and repeating 108 times.


Now you may be wondering why 108? Well, the number bears religious significance that can be seen throughout a number of Buddhist and Hindu traditions.

  • The sacred texts of yoga and eastern philosophy. The Rig Veda has 108 chapters, there are 108 Upanishads and 108 primary Tantras.

  • There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet each with a masculine and a feminine form. 54 x 2 = 108

  • In Ayurveda there are 108 sacred places (marmas) on the body that intersect matter and consciousness. These can be awoken to align the body.

  • In astronomy the Suns diameter is approximately 108 times that of Earths and the distance between the Earth and the Sun is on average 108 times the diameter of the Sun.

  • In mathematics it is favorited because it is a semi perfect number with endless patterns and potential divisions.

As you see, there are many sacred motions that malas bring aside from simply being a beautiful adornment! Now lets get into the process and production of malas.


How to use Mala beads?


It is very easy to use a mala. First you want to begin at the base bead called the guru. Usually the guru is slightly larger than the other beads, is a charm, or is a different color than the rest of the beads. Hold the adjacent bead to the right of the guru between your thumb and middle finger as the remainder of the strand is draped over the middle finger. Then use your thumb to slide/flick the first mala down as you move onto the second bead. Repeat to 108.


During this time one is to be free of the active mind and focus on breath, breathing in and out as you move from bead to bead. One can focus on the counting of the beads, or can use a mantra for each bead, repeating a phrase or intention to manifest during your meditation practice. Focus your energy on your intention for that moment and repeat the intensity of that energy with each bead.

Some frequently used mantras during the use of malas:
  • Om

  • May all beings be happy, peaceful, and free from suffering

  • Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

  • I am at peace with what was, what is, and what will be.

  • I am loved, I am loving, I am love.

  • Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

These, of course, are simply examples of the endless possible mantras you can explore. I will dive deeper into more mantras and their meanings in a later post, as this is just a preview of the intentions you are to set for your practice to bring about transition and change for the better. Mantras can be simple, just using one word such as "love" or "forgiveness", or can be complex like long Sanskrit phrases. Whatever you choose to use I hope it brings you deeper into your practice and brings about positive change.


How to choose the Mala bead for you?


When choosing a mala for your practice, there are two key factors to take into account when making a decision: intention and material.


Intention:

Before you begin your meditation practice, it is important to think of the things you want to receive from it. Do you want to clear and clean the spiritual mind? Do you fear you need protection? Do you want guidance in your life path? Do you seek happiness? Do you want to free the mind from stress and anxiety? Whatever it may be that you want to receive from your practice, there is a mala for you.

Your intentions are personal during meditation and it is only up to you to decide what you want to receive from each practice. Now this brings us to the materials the malas are made from as there are spiritual meanings and blessings each mala can bring.


Materials:

Japamalas can be made from a multitude of different materials. The most common are gemstones and crystals or wood. Gemstones and crystals each manifest different symbolic properties and energies that can assist in reaching those intentions you have set for yourself. Each crystal has their own energy, so you are to look for a mala that is attuned to your own personal energy or one that raises your energetic resonance in the area of life that you so choose to build.


Common gemstones and crystals used for mala beads include amethyst, quartz, rose quartz, amazonite, agate, onyx, tigers eye and many more. For example amethyst is a protection stone with very high spiritual vibration. It assists in calming or activating the mind when necessary and cleanses the mind for centering. Rose quartz is the stone of love, peace and purity. It demonstrates self love healing properties, opens the heart center, and wards off negativity.


If you are wanting a more lightweight mala, you may look into those made out of other sacred materials such as wood or seeds. Sandalwood and Rosewood are two very common beads that are also used when making malas. Rosewood carrying feminine qualities of compassion and understanding and Sandalwood granting clairvoyance, positivity, and good fortune.




I hope that this gives you a little insight as to the usage and benefits of mala beads during practice. They have assisted me for years and I am excited to be sharing some exclusive ones with the rest of you soon. Choose a mala that manifests your dreams and desires. Keep it with you, wear it as fashion, use it strictly for meditation, whatever it may be I hope these malas give you the guidance you so need.


Thank you all who read, my love extends through this blog to you all. Catch you next time :) Hatha Jules

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