If you’ve been following my journey on Instagram, you may have seen some mala necklaces pass by occasionally. What are they and what do people use them for I hear you ask. Well, I’m glad you did, because I want to show you how these wonderful necklaces are a great tool for supporting a regular meditation practice. While I highly recommend using apps for guided meditations like Headspace, it is nice to have some offline tools available to you as well and just be technology free for some short sweet moments in your life. Sure, you can totally just sit down and count your breaths, but the benefit of having a mala is that they are made with stones that have certain properties to help you manifest the things you want in life. But first of all, why meditate?
Before I tell you more about using malas, check out this video that slays all the misconceptions we have about meditation. I’ve heard some people say: ‘ohh I can’t meditate, nah, I’d go completely insane because there are so many thoughts going through my head.’ No shit. Welcome to the human experience. The goal of meditation is to distance yourself from those thoughts, to view them objectively, and to understand they come forth from the ego. By focusing on our breath, or on a mantra, we can create a space in our mind that is free from thoughts: both good and bad. The effect? Calmness, happiness, focus, improved concentration, lower stress levels and thereby better overall health.
What are mala beads?
A mala is the Hindu word for a necklace consisting of 108 beads plus a guru bead (that’s the big one in the middle!) and are used for keeping count during mantra meditations. You may have noticed that such necklaces are found in many cultures across the world! The rosary is an example, and is used to count prayers.
Why 108 beads?
For shorter meditations, there are also malas made of 27 or 54 beads, but 108 has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism. You may have read of people doing 108 sun salutations during the summer equinox, but what is its significance? There are many theories, and it is very worthwhile and interesting to dive into this topic yourself! To name a few: there are said to be 108 energy lines towards the heart chakra and as for the numbers, some say that 1 stands for God, the universe or your own highest truth (whatever you’d like to call it); 0 stands for emptiness and humility in your spiritual practice; and 8 stands for infinity and timelessness. There are also some fabulous ‘coincidences’ found in astrology, but I invite you to discover these yourself 🙂
The guru bead is the 109th bead and symbolises our teacher, the divine, or God. During meditation it is used as a place for reflection, so take your time focusing on this bead to choose your mantra or positive affirmation that you will recite as you count each bead.
A quick note: these malas have markers at the 7th and 21st bead for shorter meditations. Use them as you wish! Alternatively, these markers are also used to check if you are still ‘there’.
So how do you use it?
Note: before you start, make sure your mala has been cleansed properly. I do this when I make the mala, but it’s a good idea to do this again before you use it for the first time. For cleansing methods, take a look here.
Note 2: if there is one thing I can’t stand it’s dogma. I really want you to know that I’m not about that dogmatic preachin’, so please use the instructions below as guidelines. It is your mala, and you can choose the way in which you meditate with it, or not meditate with it! There are no rules in spirituality, despite what you might hear. Your meditation, your practice, your life, your choices. Kay? Got it? Here we go!
- First of all, get comfortable! Create your own sacred meditation space in a way that feels good for you! If this just means finding a quiet room and putting on a cozy sweater, then go for it!
- Once you’re settled, find the guru bead and decide on a mantra or positive affirmation like ‘I love myself’. With that said, malas can also be used in silent meditation, by just focusing on your breath.
- Starting from the guru bead, use your thumb to pull a bead towards you. And with each bead you recite your chosen mantra. You can do this in your head, or out loud on an exhale. Remember, your mala should allow you to relax and focus on your meditation without having to worry about the amount of time you should do it for.
- Once you reach the guru bead, take a moment of inner silence and reflection and decide whether you would like to continue or end your meditation.
- For a longer meditation, flip your mala around and go back the other way, the guru bead should not be counted or passed over. Traditionally speaking. So once again. Your mala, your rules.
Whether you are looking to cultivate more peace, clearer communication, more authenticity, or reduce stress, all of these things can be accessible to you through the practice of meditation. When wearing this mala ‘off the mat’, it will continue to remind you of your practice throughout the day!
Do you use a mala for meditating? Or do you want me to make you one? Feel free to shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org!