Malas are tools for meditation and mental focus. Meditation is one of the healthiest habits you can have, but it's not always as simple as it seems. Finding the discipline to sit still, even for five minutes, can at times feel impossibly challenging. Curing fidgetiness and a busy mind are the exact reasons I love Mala beads. They provide as Ram Dass once said, a “kinesthetic cueing device” that allows you to continuously re-awaken and stay on course throughout the practice of meditation.
Why Use a Mala?
When simply meditating it can be easy for the mind to wander off. The act of passing the beads through your fingers while focusing on each breath or each mantra provides the opportunity to stay very present.
There are a few ways to hold and move the Mala through your fingers as you meditate. In traditional use, you place the Mala in your right hand, with the first bead that you will count draped over your middle or ring finger. You then use your thumb to move the Mala as you count. The 108 “counting beads” meet in the center where there is a “guru bead” that hangs perpendicular and does not get counted or skipped but rather used as a point of reflection. Or it can simply used use as a counter bead- to know when you have reached the half way point or end of your mediation.
I use a mala often because I find it really helps me to stay with my meditation when my mind wanders. Why meditate? As my teacher says, "Meditate and all will be revealed".
How To Use a Mala For Meditation:
1)Find a comfortable seat. Take your mala in your right hand and take a few deep breaths. Notice the airflow as it enters in and out through your nostrils. Sweetly set an intention for this meditation or choose a mantra that you feel comfortable repeating.
I suggest the mantra Ham Sa. Say HAM to yourself on the in breath and SA on the out breath. Let yourself notice the slight pause between the in breath and the out breath,
2) Begin by sliding the beads between your thumb and middle finger, inhale, repeating the mantra HAM and focusing your intention with each bead and breath. On the exhale, repeat the mantra SA. Continue doing this. Inhale- Ham. Exhale SA. With the slight pause between the breaths. When you reach the guru bead, pause and reflect, then reverse the direction of the beads as you begin to count again.
3) When you finish, take a moment of silence before getting up to continue your day. Feel gratitude for allowing yourself to practice and do something healthy for your body/mind. Carry the peaceful feeling of the meditation with you into your day.
Our Malas are Made for us by Prasada of Kripalu at a Woman's Cooperative in India.