What are Malas & How to Choose Yours
What are Malas
Mala Beads have been worn for thousands of years in the traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Yoga. They are worn for their spiritual and healing qualities as well as a tool for certain types of meditation. The purpose of a Mala depends on the wearer's needs and when worn by intuitive prescription based on the type(s) of stone, it is a powerful amplifier of mental, physical and/or spiritual needs.
We all know, calming the mind is a bit tricky! Using a Mala in meditation can help quiet the mind and body so that meditation can become more meaningful. While sitting, a meditator may use a Mala by calmly & silently counting each stone or bead silently through their fingers. Others may use each bead as an opportunity to chant a mantra or positive affirmation to themselves, while other schools chant each of the 108 beads as a mantra aloud in a group. We have even heard that once you chant a Mala, all 108 beads, 108 times through that the Mala then powerfully radiates that mantra’s frequency.
Mala is a Sanskrit word, meaning garland. Our Malas are made with 108 rudraksha beads and/or semi-precious gemstones along with an additional bead known as a guru bead, the 109th bead of the string. These are powerfully sacred pieces and are usually separate from the full string of 108; this is to signify both the relationship of student and guru as well as a realization of the universal self. This bead is never passed over when used for mediation, when this bead is reached the student turns the Mala around and starts in the opposite direction.
108 is a sacred and spiritual number. The number shows up in many ancient wisdom paths. The ancient text that many yogis study is called the Upanishads which has 108 chapters. There are 27 constellations by 4 parts which is 108. The 12 zodiac signs by 9 planets is also 108. The Ganges river also is known to have 108 names and it is said that there are 108 energy lines converging to form the Heart Chakra. In Buddhism 108 is said to represent the following formula:
6 x 3 x 2 x 3 = 108
- 6 senses of a human being: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, thought
- 3 times: past, present, future
- 2 conditions of heart, mind or intention: pure or impure
- 3 emotional states or "kleshia": like, dislike, indifference
How to Choose your Mala
The best way to choose a Mala is to use your intuition as a guide. You will be drawn to a certain Mala that seems to be right for you, you have been drawn to what you most need at this time.
What has got your attention - it can be the first one you loved and you keep coming back to it, go with your feeling it doesn't have to be complicated.
What are your intentions at the moment, your aspirations in life - The Mala beads all have their own intention, find what you are looking for, the one that most suits these intentions, whether it is needing focus, wanting to be calm and grounded, opening your heart, or knowing yourself...
Choose your Gemstones - The Malas are a combination of meaningful Gemstones, each one having their own significance and Rudrakshas which promote a calmer mind & spirit, please look up our Gemstone description page as well.
How to use your Mala in Meditation
There are many ways to honour the power and importance of your Mala and one of the most common is to use it for meditation. There are a few methods but in the most common the Mala is hanging between the thumb and the ring finger in the right hand. The second finger is used to rotate the Mala toward oneself by one bead with each repetition of breath or mantra. In another approach the Mala is hanging on the middle finger with the thumb used to rotate the Mala just as explained; one bead at a time. Either way, the index finger is never used to touch the Mala. (The index finger represents ego, seen as the greatest impediment to realisation in ancient Hinduism). The practice begins at the guru (head) bead and continues around the loop until the guru bead is reached again.