What are Mala beads?
The word “Mala” is a Sanskrit word meaning “garland”. It is traditionally 108 beads knotted together, plus a “guru” or “meru” bead. The guru bead is the starting and ending point for your meditation but is also said to hold the intention or energy of your meditation practice. Malas have been used for prayer, meditation and mantras. Often called “prayer beads,” they can be worn without any specific religious or spiritual affiliation. They can be a gentle reminder of an intention you have set for yourself and to help keep the mind calm. Though malas have become a beautiful jewelry statement, I hold each mala sacred, with the offering of peace, joy and healing. Mala beads are a beautiful way to help focus your awareness during a mantra or affirmation meditation. As well, for some people, having something tangible to hold helps facilitate a sense of grounding or presence during their meditation.
How do I choose my Mala?
There is no right or wrong way to choose your mala beads. In fact, you cannot make the wrong choice. When choosing a mala, consider what your intention is. Observe what you are drawn to; maybe it’s color, intention or manifestation, something you are ready to release. Maybe it’s the energy of the stones or the color of the stone or maybe you are drawn to a mala simply because you think it’s beautiful. Malas offer something for everyone. Allow your intuition to guide you in this process.
The number’s significance is open to interpretation. But 108 has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and yoga. Traditionally, malas or garlands of prayer beads, come as a string of 108 beads (plus one for the “guru bead,” around which the other 108 beads turn like the planets around the sun). A mala is used for counting as you repeat a mantra. Some of the beliefs around the number 108 are:
9 times 12: Both of these numbers have been said to have spiritual significance in many traditions. 9 times 12 is 108.
Desires: There are said to be 108 earthly desires in mortals.
Lies: There are said to be 108 lies that humans tell.
Delusions: There are said to be 108 human delusions or forms of ignorance.
Heart Chakra: The chakras are the intersections of energy lines, and there are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra. One of them, Sushumna, leads to the crown chakra and is said to be the path to Self-realization.
Sanskrit alphabet: There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti. 54 times 2 is 108.
Upanishads: Some say there are 108 Upanishads, texts of the wisdom of the ancient sage
Yogic tradition: There are 108 pithas (sacred sites) throughout India and 108 marma points, sacred places of the body.
Time: Some say there are 108 feelings, with 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future.
Planets and Houses: In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108.
Sun and Earth: The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance from the sun to the earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun.
Moon and Earth: The average distance of the moon from the earth is 108 times the diameter of the moon.
Silver and the moon: In astrology, the metal silver is said to represent the moon. The atomic weight of silver is 108.
How to use your Mala for a Japa Meditation
The practice of chanting a mantra is used as a form of meditation. Sitting in a comfortable position, with the eyes closed, the mantra is repeated silently or aloud. The mind is focused on the mantra, the thoughts are let go of and the breath is slow and deep.
Traditionally, the mala is held in the right hand, draped over the middle finger. Starting with the bead right next to the guru bead, you recite your mantra or affirmation and use your thumb to draw the first bead toward you. You continue reciting your mantra and drawing the next bead toward you until you have gone all the way around, arriving back at your guru bead. If you want to continue with your mala meditation, do not go over the guru bead. Simply turn around and go in the opposite direction. The large Guru (or Meru) bead should not be counted or touched by the thumb and is used as a starting and ending point of the recitation. Once you have completed your meditation, feel free to pause at the guru bead to reflect upon your meditation, to honor yourself for taking the time for yourself, to honor the beautiful light that resides within you and to find gratitude for the many blessings surrounding you. If you have a wrist mala of 27 beads you will need to repeat this 3 more times.
Cleansing and recharging your Mala
If there comes a time that you feel as though the vibrational qualities of your mala have weakened or have misaligned with your intentions, or it has picked up energy from others that is not serving you, there are several ways in which you can cleanse and/or recharge your mala. You can place your mala in the sunlight or the moonlight for a few hours. It is said that placing your mala, crystals, gemstones under the glow of a full moon activates and rises the energetic qualities in your mala. You can burn sage around your mala. Chanting or other vibrational sounds can cleanse your mala of negative energy. You can place your mala on top of one of your favorite crystals. The energy from that stone can cleanse your mala.
If your tassel becomes tangled or messy, you can use a soft toothbrush to gentle brush the threads of the tassel. You can also dampen the tassel and straighten the threads. Once dry, gently brush it with the soft toothbrush.
Enjoy your Mala…it was made specifically for you with the highest intentions for your well-being.
What is Reiki?
Reiki is a spiritual healing art with its roots in Japanese origin. The word Reiki comes from the Japanese word (Rei) which means “Universal Life” and (Ki) which means “Energy”. Reiki is not affiliated with any particular religion or religious practice. It is not massage nor is it based on belief or suggestion. It is a subtle and effective form of energy work using spiritually guided life force energy.
Reiki is the life energy that flows through all living things. Reiki practitioners understand that everyone has the ability to connect with their own healing energy and use it to strengthen energy in themselves, as well as help others. It is believed that a person’s “ki” or energy should be strong and free flowing. When this is true, a person’s body and mind are in a positive state of health. When the energy becomes weak or blocked, it could lead to symptoms of physical or emotional imbalance.
What if my Mala breaks?
It is believed that if your mala breaks, it represents karma breaking or a breakthrough. Maybe the intention you set with this mala has been met or what you were hoping to release has been released.
That said, all Sattva malas have a six month guarantee against breakage. Malas that are used often in japa meditations or worn regularly can break over time due to the stones rubbing against the thread. I use very fine materials to try and prevent this from happening, but should your mala break at any point within the six months, I will restring your mala for free.