Some people call them Meditation Beads, Prayer Beads, Worry Beads (I don’t like that one) and Buddhist Rosary Beads. It is very simple: It is a string of round beads that you hold during a meditation, one bead for every prayer (or mantra, or breath or whatever suits you). You hold the beads between your middle finger and thumb of your right hand, and push each bead away at the end of your mantra and begin again on the next bead. There is a tassel or “guru” bead to let you know you have finished the round of beads.
Malas can be 108 beads, 54 beads, 27 beads or 21 beads.
The beads can be made from any material such as wood, yak bone, lotus seed beads, rudraksha beads and gemstones. Gemstone Malas are used for healing. Each gemstone represents different energies, intentions, colors and qualities.
Mala Beads are a physical reminder, a tangible symbol, of your intentions, affirmations and energies. They are a tool for focusing the mind on your intentions in your meditation and yoga practice.
Picking out Mala Beads is very easy, like picking out jewelry. Buy what you love! Buy what feels good on you, what feels good in your hand and around your neck or wrist.
If you are seeking a specific energy, find a gemstone that is meaningful to you.
Taking care of your Malas are like taking care of fine jewels.
Only you wear them (they collect your energy, your intentions, your affirmations).
Some people use them like a beautiful piece of art and hang them in a special space. Some people take them to yoga class and leave them on their mat to collect their yoga energy. Some people carry them around in a mala bag and use them during down-time. Mala beads often are found on personal meditation shrines as well. I have Mala beads that I wear, I also have Mala beads that were gifted to me placed in special spaces in my house. They make me smile 🙂 and I feel their gifters sweet thoughtful energy every time I look at them.
How to Meditate using Mala Beads:
1. Be comfortable. Sit in a meditation chair or bolster, or use blankets to support you. Sit with your spine straight and place your hands on top of your thighs with your mala beads in your right hand between your middle finger and thumb.
2. Be Quiet. Find a quiet space for your meditation with as little distractions as possible.
3. Become aware of your breath. Don’t try to change it, just notice your natural breathing pattern.
4. Use your Mantra. Repeat whatever mantra works for you*. Then push the first bead over and place your thumb on the next bead. Keep practicing like this until you come to the tassel or marker bead.
5. Practice. Take baby steps, try to meditate for 5 minutes at the same time every day. As you become more comfortable with your practice, you can build up to 10 minutes, 15 and 20 minutes.
The shelf life for a meditation practice is one day. Keep it real, if you can do a 5 minute meditation every day that is better than a one hour practice on sundays.
*A word about Mantras:
I could spend weeks blogging about mantras. A Mantra is a word or sound that is repeated in a meditation. A Mantra can be simply “Breathing In, Breathing Out”. Rod Stryker offers the mantra “So, Hum” to his beginning students. “Ham-Sah” is a famous Hindu mantra meaning “I am that”.
If you want to google “Mantras for Meditation”, find one you like and try it! When you get bored of that one, find a new one.
Mala Beads are sold everywhere, Whole Foods, Organic Farmer Markets, Etsy.com (there are vendors who will customize one just for you), Yoga Studios, Amazon.com, and I am also a fan of www.lovetinydevotions.com