What Is a Mala A Mala (Sanskrit word for Garland) is a beautiful strand of prayer beads used by many individuals around the world, including yoga practitioners/teachers during meditation or sadhana (spiritual practice). This string of beads is often used to count prayers or mantras in specific sequences, such as sets of 108, 54, 36, 27, 12, and so forth.
A full mala is typically comprised of 108 beads, although this number can vary. Malas can be used for a variety of purposes including keeping count of recitation of mantras, chants, prayers, affirmations, yoga asanas, etc.
The largest bead on a mala, also called the 'guru' or 'meru' bead serves its specific purpose to the individual using the set of beads. Generally speaking, the 'guru' bead is the bead that represents a spiritual teacher/guru/or the person in which one honors for helping them onto their chosen path. It can also simply represent the starting and ending point for counting recitations/prayers, etc.
Additionally, there are generally spacer beads included on malas which some use as gentle reminders to bring their mind back to focus if it wanders during their practice. The spacer beads can also remind one of their 'count' during their recitations or prayers. Depending on your particular spiritual practice, some spacer beads may be considered part of the 'count' in some practices, while others may generally serve as a reminder of the intended focus.
What Is a Mantra A mantra is simply a word, a phrase or a series of phrases that are chanted or recited repeatedly, either aloud of silently. It is said that a special or sacred mantra when chanted repeatedly helps to invoke its spiritual properties. In some yogic traditions, typically a mantra carries within its syllables certain positive aspects or qualities of which can be invoked through the process of chanting it. It is said that these properties or spiritual qualities can help one to raise their consciousness and to achieve greater enlightenment.
What Is Japa The practice known as Japa is simply the meditative repetition or chanting of a name, phrase or mantra. A Japa Mala then is simply a full mala of 108 beads, which serves as an aid for your 108 repetitions. You simply move your fingers over each bead with each passing chant you recite. Japa is a wonderful practice in and of itself and can help one to develop more devotion and focused awareness of the presence of Spirit. Using your mala prayer beads during your practice may help empower and inspire you. Many people also choose to wear their malas under clothing during the day to help carry the lovely energies from meditation or Japa into their other daily activities.
Who Can Use a Mala Anyone can use a mala, that's the uniqueness about them. Mala prayer beads or generally speaking 'prayer beads' have been used for centuries by many different cultures and religions around the world. You don't need to follow a specific path to benefit from having a set of prayer beads. Truly, they can become a wonderful object for anyone seeking to focus mind-body-spirit toward greater clarity, peace and harmony and they can help with calming your mind and helping you to relax. Some people enjoy having them near during their daily prayers, the setting of intentions, reciting of affirmations, and so forth. They can become a great asset to anyone and carry such wonderful energies when used in a positive setting. Some people enjoy gifting them to a loved one or friend as well.
How To Use a Mala There may be variations on how to use a mala depending upon your specific spiritual practice, but generally speaking a mala is very easy to use and one may find that it brings empowerment and inspiration with each use.
In our own spiritual practice, the first and most important step for using a mala is attitude and second is an open heart. You want to approach your meditation time with your mala while in the best frame of mind, free of distractions, worry, anger or noise.
This time of concentration is best served with an open heart and mind. Consider beginning your practice in a quiet location free of distractions. Sit upright with a straight spine, eyes closed and concentrated fully at the point between the eyebrows or third/spiritual eye chakra. Take deep breaths to calm mind-body-spirit and to center and still the body for greater peace and harmony.
Consider beginning with a prayer, special chant or devotion while gently cupping the mala in your palms. Then, open your hand and gently place your thumb and middle finger on the guru bead. Perhaps say a special prayer or mantra here - do what feels right for you. Then, begin with your first bead by holding it gently between your thumb and middle finger. Your pointer or index finger should be slightly extended during this process, so that it does not touch the bead (as the index finger represents the ego). As you recite your mantra or prayer, gently pull the next bead forward toward you with your thumb as it flows gracefully over your middle finger. Continue this process and move around your mala by pulling the next bead toward you with each passing prayer or mantra.
How to Energize a Mala Gemstones each have their own energetic properties, but they also absorb energies as well. This can occur through the many hands it may pass through or through its environment as well. We cleanse all of our gemstone beads before we begin creating with them. A simple fresh water cleanse is typically all that is necessary, but we do take a few additional steps to ensure they are beautiful and energized before their journey to you, their new owner. For instance, we love to cleanse the gemstones, allow them to dry in the natural sun (for the gems that can have sun) and we also place them outside in a safe environment under a full moon as well.
Energizing a mala can be a fun and calming process for the new mala owner. There are many variations for energizing a mala. We believe there is no right or wrong way, but instead it is more of a personal experience and a bonding moment for the owner with their new mala prayer beads. Create a process or follow one that feels right for you. Some customers enjoy taking their new mala into their home or their meditation space and activating or energizing it through many techniques such as through musical vibrations, incense, candles, etc. We typically utilize the power of sound to further energize our mala prayer beads. We prefer to play beautiful mantras with a harmonium, play recorded mantras such as the Gayatri Mantra or Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, and/or we will utilize the vibrations of our chakra quartz singing bowls by lying the mala down into the bowl while we play.
How To Store a Mala There are many beautiful ways to safely store your mala when it's not in use. Many people, including us, feel that mala prayer beads are spiritual objects, ones that carry empowering energies of our prayers and practices. It is felt that the prayer beads become imbued with the users own energies and inspirations as it is used over time. Because of this, some people feel it best to keep their malas tucked away, while not being handled by others, and/or secured in a special place out of sight when not in use.
Others feel to wear their mala behind their clothing as a way of reconnecting with the energies of their practice throughout their daily activities. Whatever method feels best to you, there are many ways to store your mala;
Inside a special box or other container
In a velvet or silk-lined pouch or zippered/drawstring pocket
Discreetly worn behind clothing
Carried in a pocket on the person
The list goes on and on depending on the individual's own personal preference. Gemstone mala prayer beads are pretty durable, but do be careful not to drop them, as some gemstones are softer on the Mohs scale than others and can be broken/cracked or damaged due to big falls or frequent drops, so choosing proper storage for your mala is an important step to ensure its safety over time. It's also important to note here that some gemstones shouldn't be in direct sunlight as it can harm them or cause fading of their colors. Research your specific gems or consider connecting with us before leaving your mala in the full sun for extended periods of time.
Remember that your mala may be created with silk thread as well as a silk tassel. Keep this in mind, too, when choosing a place to store your mala. Keeping silk away from humidity, dampness or wet places can also help the silk to maintain its strength and durability. A silk tassel will fray over time with lots of use, but to us that just adds to its beauty. A well worn mala means lots and lots of positive vibes and that's a great goal!