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Using Mala Beads (Rosary) for Meditation

What is a Meditation Mala?
mantra_beadsA mala is a string of 108 beads with one bead as the summit bead called a 'sumeru'.

It is a tool used to keep your mind on the meditation practice. Malas are generally made from different materials such as tulsi (basil) wood, sandal wood, rudraksh seeds or crystal. Each type of material has certain properties which subtly affect the subconscious mind of the practitioner.

Why use the Mala?
Meditation can be quite a tricky practice because the mind is like a naughty child. By its very nature, the mind tends to wander off during the meditation practice. If ones energy is low at the time of meditation, falling asleep can result. If the energy is too high, fantasy and distraction become the barriers. At such times, the mala provides the much needed anchor.

The mala beads are moved in rhythm with the breath and the mantra, so that both-sleep as well as excessive mental distraction-are prevented by this action upon the beads.

For wearing: A personal mala is a wonderful accessory to meditation, which when used regularly with a personal mantra, absorbs the vibrations of the practice. It becomes like a close friend or a comfortable piece of clothing!

How to Use?
mala_newThe mala is traditionally held in the right hand and used in two ways -

  • In one method, the mala is hanging between the thumb and the ring (third) finger. The middle (second) finger is used to rotate the mala by one bead towards oneself with each repetition of the mantra.
  • In the other method, the mala is hanging on the middle finger, with the thumb used to rotate the mala just as explained - one bead at a time.

Either way, the index finger is never used to touch the mala.

The mala may coil on the floor with the hand resting on the right knee or used with the hand concealed in the Mala Bag.

The practice begins at the summit bead (sumeru) and continues around the loop until the summit is reached again. The summit bead is never passed over. So if you plan to do more than 1 round, the mala is turned around to proceed again in the reverse direction.

Whenever the mala is taken up, it automatically conditions the mind to the meditative state. The mala that you use for Mantra Japa meditation should not be exhibited and is best kept privately in a special Mala Bag.


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