Modern life is stressful and often leaves us feeling disconnected from others, ourselves, and the true intentions in our hearts. Under the barrage of family and career goals, the constant clamor of social media and the news cycle, and other overwhelming factors, it's key to both mental and physical health to find ways to stay centered, and sometimes the wafting scent of lavender doesn't cut it.
Many have found refuge in meditation, a process that helps to clear the mind and relax the body while centering you on the things that matter most. However, with all of that hard-to-shake background noise, it can be a challenge to clear your mind and sink into contentment.
How Mala Beads Can Help Center You
With the help of a meditation aid like prayer beads, specifically a mala beads bracelet or mala necklace, it's much easier to find your Zen.
Mala beads, also called Tibetan beads, are prayer beads similar to the tasbih in Islam or a rosary in Christian practice. They serve to ground practitioners of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism in their meditation, allowing them to draw closer to their spiritual selves and manifest their intentions.
"Mala" is Sanskrit for "garland," and the Buddhist prayer beads come in a strand of 108 beads, worn as a necklace or bracelet. If worn as a bracelet, malas are often wrapped around the wrist several times.
Mala is Sanskrit for garland
When using mala beads to meditate, a mantra is repeated 108 times, pausing on a charm or the 109th "guru" bead to give gratitude to teachers, the universe, or other positive forces.
Why Malas Have 108 Beads
Users of mala beads joke that there are 108 reasons for the inclusion of the number 108. Historically, it's said that Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, told King Virudhaka to recite the Three Jewels of Buddhism using Buddhist prayer beads, meaning that each Jewel is recited 36 times.
One of the most popular reasons today is that there are 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra. It's also said that the numbers themselves have symbolic significance, with one standing for the ultimate truth, zero standing for humility, and eight for the infinite nature of the universe.
There are 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra.
Choosing The Right Mala
When choosing a mala for your practice, your intuition will often guide you to the right garland for your aura. It is said that the first mala you are drawn to is the one you're destined to wear and use.
However, if you're seeking to tap into specific chakras or energies, or are looking to manifest certain intentions, there are many ways to seek out bracelets that will serve your goals.
If focus in your meditation is your goal, a sandalwood mala is an ideal choice as it is known to enhance alertness during meditation and stimulate the base chakra, deepening identity and trust.
Malas are also made of many different precious stones, each carrying their own unique energies.
Rose quartz malas, frequently referred to as the heart stone, connects you to your heart chakra and serves to both attract new love and support your existing loving connections.
For a soothing effect, both amazonite and jade are excellent at buffering stress and healing trauma. Hematite is perfect for achieving balance in mind, body, and spirit, while labradorite fosters a deep connection with your true spiritual self.
The charm on your mala will also impact its effect on you and your energy. The most common and useful charms are the lotus blossom and the Sanskrit script for Om.
Lotus blossoms symbolize purity and spirituality, nurturing your connection to and awareness of the oneness of the universe, allowing for inner peace.
The Om is the first part of a sacred Sanskrit mantra consisting of six syllables. The 14th Dalai Lama, his Holiness Tenzin Gyatso of Tibet, has said that "the six syllables, Om Mani Padme Hum, mean that in dependence on the practice which is in indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure body, speech, and mind of a Buddha."
Wearing Om on your body or using this sacred syllable to meditate can serve as a reminder to be your best self and embody the attributes of the Buddha. These attributes each correspond to a syllable of the full chant: generosity, ethics, patience, diligence, renunciation, and wisdom. Regardless of your religious or spiritual affiliation, they are ideals worth striving for.
When To Use Mala Beads
There are many ways to incorporate Buddhist prayer beads into your life. Once you have your Buddha beads bracelet on hand, it's recommended that you wear it for 40 days in a row to form a connection with the energy of the beads.
Wear your mala beads for 40 days in a row to form a connection with the energy of the beads.
This will make it easier to tap into that energy every morning, simplifying the process of becoming connected to your intentions and allowing you to actively and consciously make choices about what kind of person you want to be and what kind of life you want to live.
The beads can also be left on an altar or other spiritually significant location, but wearing them is an ideal way to stay honed in on your goals and positive energy during the hectic happenings of everyday life.
If yoga is part of your spiritual or physical practice, your mala can be placed at the head of the mat to keep your focus on your intentions and your breath as you move through asanas.
Better Meditation with Malas
Meditation is a practice that promotes health in many ways, both mental and physical. It's been shown to decrease inflammation in the body in response to stress, improve sleep, lighten the load of depression and anxiety, and enhance mindfulness.
Despite its many benefits, it can still be a struggle to start a meditation habit or deepen the focus of an existing practice.
This is where your mala comes in.
They serve to anchor you in your meditation, promoting a clear mind and lengthening the amount of time spent focused on breath, intentions, and energy.
How To Use Mala Beads In Meditation
To begin, sit comfortably with your back straight and your eyes closed. This can be done in any location, but a calm and quiet space is often the best choice for beginners. Breathe deeply and focus on your intention, whether that's a quiet headspace, a concrete goal in your future, or a quality you would like to embody. If you have a mantra, it can be chanted silently or out loud.
Holding your mala in your right hand, pull the strand towards you and count from the charm or guru bead. Once you have worked through all 108 beads, you may stop or continue. If you'd like to continue, reverse your direction to stay in your meditative headspace. In Buddhism, this serves as a reminder that life is eternal and the cycle of reincarnation can be broken.
Whether your life is a soothing oasis or you're still searching for calm seas, meditating with a prayer bead bracelet or meditation bead necklace can be a useful tool for centering yourself.
The world may be hectic, but there's no reason for your mind to mirror those chaotic energies. Through mala beads meditation, you'll be able to improve your mental clarity and physical health while working towards achieving your dreams, whatever they may be.