The Sleep Guru: How to Use a Mala for MeditationAnandi - The Sleep Guru
“Just as you wash your hands before eating, clear your mind before engaging with the world” - Mooji
First let me explain what a mala actually is. A mala is a set of prayer beads used as a meditation tool, a little like a rosary and is a counting tool used to count the number of mantra repetitions (japa), breaths or prostrations in one’s sadhana (practice). There are 108 beads in the most popular type of mala which is no accident. 108 is an auspicious number in yogic philosophy, but also in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism and relates to all sorts of things including the number of important energy chanels. It is also worth noting that mala’s come in other denominations like 18 and 54, all being auspicious numbers.
All sorts of beads and stones are used to make malas which often depends on what philosophy you follow or where you are from. In particular, Rudraksha beads are used for making malas in India and have a very sacred significance. Rudraksha beads relate to the patron saint of Hatha yoga, Shiva. Shiva is connected to welfare and in particular the dissolution of all creation that has to happen in order to make way for the new. Shiva is a big story and too much to discuss now, but suffice to say, the beads are sacred and significant and most yogis and Shiva worshippers will own a rudraksha bead mala.
Rudraksha beads come from the seed of a fruit that looks a lot like a blueberry. The mythological story goes that Shiva meditated on the welfare of mankind, and began to cry tears of compassion. Upon hitting the earth, those tears crystalised to form the trees that grow rudrakshas. The beads have a very long life and malas made from them have been known to last up to eight generations.
Rudraksha beads contain carbon, hydrogen nitrogen and oxygen. Medicinally they are known to heal the mind, increasing clarity and general awareness. They also calm the nervous system and free the mind of negative thought. It is also often said that rudraksha beads increase energy and stamina, and have rejuvenating qualities, so we can all benefit from wearing a mala!
So how does one go about using a mala in meditation practise?
For a simple practise, close your eyes, start at the central bead and repeat your mantra once for each bead. A good mantra to start with is So Hum. So hum literally means “I am that” - meaning, I am that which is infinite, divine and eternal. Whilst repeating your mantra, put the whole of your intention and consciousness into it. Once you have worked your way right around the mala and back to the centre, sit quietly for ten minutes. Practice this morning and evening.
Keep your mala energised by keeping it cleansed using incense and leaving it on your altar or the special sacred space you use for your sadhana (practice). The mala you use for your practice should be kept sacred and not necessarily as a jewellery item.
Written by The Sleep Guru.