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Mala 101: What is a Mala, and how do I use it?

 

These beautiful pieces are so much more than just accessories; they are an essential tool to help you focus during your meditation.

What is a mala?

Mala beads, or Buddhist prayer beads, are strings of 108 beads with one extra “guru” bead that are used as a tool to aid in meditation. These beads are often worn as bracelets or necklaces, but their uses and meaning run much deeper.

The meaning behind the 108 beads has long been debated, and everyone has their favorite theory that best matches their beliefs. The number 108 is often cited as a sacred number in religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, but there are many other theories that are widely believed too.

Some believe the number is used as there are 108 energy lines that converge to form the heart chakra, some believe that it is because there are said to be 108 earthly desires, and some believe that the significance lies in the number of feelings human have – 36 for the past, 36 for the present, and 36 for the future.

Whichever theory you believe, these beads are excellent for centring yourself and focusing your meditation.

How to choose the perfect mala

The main factor you need to consider when choosing your mala is which one draws you to it the most. If you don’t feel connected to the mala – then it’s not the right one for you.

If you would like to further focus your intention through your mala, then considering certain materials that match your needs would also be useful. Malas are traditionally made either from gemstones or other powerful natural materials.

Many people like to choose their mala based on their birthstones, selecting gems like Amethyst (February), which helps to promote protection and spirituality, and Jasper (March) which helps to provide balance and inspire creativity.

Another popular choice for malas is Amazonite stone – it is often used in malas thanks to its ability to help calm the mind, body and spirit when used in meditation.

Whatever style of mala you choose, as long as you feel connected to it, you’ll have made the right choice.

How to use a mala

Mala beads are widely used to help focus your intentions during meditation through the use of mantras. Starting at the bead next to the unique guru bead, you begin reciting your chosen mantra while holding each individual bead. As you move through the beads, you can fully focus on your mantra without the need to count your repetitions, as the mala does that for you.

Throughout your meditation, you should hold your mala in your right hand between your index and middle fingers and use your thumb to move through the beads. Some malas will also have stopper beads placed at regular intervals to help you re-centre and re-focus, but these should not be counted.

When selecting your mantra, you have a myriad of options depending on what your intentions are. Meditation mantras are often Sanskrit phrases when used in Buddhist or Yogic traditions taken from their sacred beliefs. But, if you don’t feel a strong connection with these phrases, then positive affirmations of single words like “calm” or simple phrases like “I am worthy” will work much better for you.

 

Now that you’ve got the lowdown on mala beads and how to use them to focus your meditation, take a look at our online store and find your own!


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