How to Use A Mala
Lately, you’ve probably been seeing more and more of the long, tasseled strands of beads known as “malas”. They’re recognizable by their single strand of small, round beads, with one large bead and a single tassel at the center. A mala can be worn as a necklace or can be wrapped around the wrist as a bracelet. Though these beautiful accessories have gained popularity for being easy to pair with a variety of outfits due to their classic simplicity, malas are for much more than just personal adornment. These necklaces have significant meaning in the world of meditation and can serve a specific purpose within one’s practice.
Many malas, such as our very own at Lotus and Luna, are made with gemstones that are valued for their symbolic meaning and inherent healing properties. For example, jade, which is used in our Asana mala, is considered to help one gain guidance and strength when making difficult life decisions. Yet, no matter the gemstone, the beads are always round and usually measure 7 to 10 mm in order to glide easily between one’s fingers (Gaia). You will understand the significance of this once you learn how to properly use your mala.
The spiritual symbolism of the mala is deeply rooted in Hindu tradition. Each strand has 108 beads due to that number being considered sacred within Hinduism. It is held sacred because 1 represents God or the universe, 0 represents emptiness or humility, and 9 represents infinity or timelessness (Yoga Journal). In addition to the 108 beads, each mala has a large “guru bead” at its center, which is at the core of the strand’s usage in meditation.
Now, on to the specifics of how to use your mala:
1 – Select a mantra or affirmation that you would like to focus on.
2 – Sit comfortably, with your legs crossed and your spine straight.
2 – With your eyes closed, begin to observe your breath.
3 – As you start to breathe deeply, focus on the mantra or affirmation that you have selected.
4 – Now, hold your mala in your right hand, draping it gently over the middle or ring finger.
5 – Place your thumb on the guru bead and begin to recite your mantra or affirmation.
6 – Progress through the mala, moving away from the guru bead, by pushing the smaller beads with your thumb and repeating your mantra or affirmation at each bead. You may stop at 7, 21, 27, or 108. If you reach the guru bead and would like to continue, begin again by moving away from the guru bead in the opposite direction (Gaia).