Traditionally, Mala beads (commonly known as a Japa Mala or simply a Mala) are tools for meditation. Mala beads have been used for centuries by a range of religions, from Hinduism to Catholicism. Nowadays, they’re used as a mindfulness aid without any religious affiliation.
A brief history on Mala beads
Mala beads have been used by yogis and spiritual seekers for thousands of years to help keep their minds focused during meditation. Malas were first created in India 3000 years ago (with roots in Hinduism & Buddhism) and were used for a special style of meditation called Japa, which means, “to recite”. The term "mala" is a Sanskrit word for “meditation garland.”
Who can wear a Mala?
Anyone! Traditionally, mala beads are tools for meditation. A string of beads to help you focus your mind while you're sitting. The jewelry is also beautiful and can be worn to remind you of your intentions. If you're manifesting strength, serenity, love, grounding, etc., you can simply wear your Mala to inspire you.
Why 108 beads?
Some believe there are 108 stages on the journey of the human soul, while others associate the possibility of enlightenment with taking 108 breaths a day in deep meditation. There are also those who believe that there are 108 desires in mortals, matched by the same amount of lies and delusions. Others connect the number's significance to the heart chakra, as there is said to be 108 energy lines leading to it, one of which is believed to be the path to self-realization.
Whatever is your belief, remember that energy flows where attention goes.
How do I use my mala?
Malas are often used to help count mantras during meditation (a mantra is a word or sounds repeated to aid in your concentration during meditation). To count your mantras, hold your Mala in your hand, and turn each bead with your thumb. Reaching the guru bead during meditation (the bead that dangles from the mala) signals a time for reflection. Do not continue over the guru bead. Instead, turn around and continue in the other direction.
Mala beads and Yoga
In the yogic tradition, Mala beads are used to recite mantras in meditation. A full cycle of 108 repetitions is counted on the Mala, so the practitioner can focus on the sounds, vibration, and meaning of what is being said.
How to take care of my Mala?
As with any fine jewelry, take care and remove your Mala before showering, bathing, swimming, exercising, or any use beyond light activity. It's also recommended to avoid contact between your Mala and hairspray, perfume, and any type of body lotion or hand cream to preserve the life of your Mala.
Store it in a dry place. When not in use, hang the Mala with the tassel facing down to avoid its bending.