Growing in popularity throughout Western cultures, mala beads have been around for at least 2000 years. Today, they seem to have become synonymous with the New Age spiritual enlightenment currently sweeping the planet. However, mala beads have always held great importance, particularly in meditation.
Mala is a sanskrit word that translates to “garland”, a wreath of flowers worn on the head, or hung from an inanimate object as decoration. It has huge religious and spiritual importance.
So what are mala beads used for?
Mala Beads Benefits
Similar to rosary beads, a mala bracelet is used by countless religious people to guide them towards personal enlightenment, nourishing the mind, body, and spirit in the process. Hindus, Buddhists, and yoga practitioners are the predominant users of mala beads, but their user base is growing exponentially, especially in the Western world. Occasionally, a mala bracelet is referred to as a buddha bead bracelet, meaning that it’s associated with enlightenment.
Using a mala bracelet trains you in the art of self-awareness. It enables you to have a more profound level of self-perception, utilizing it to make positive transformations throughout all areas of life. Using mala beads on a regular basis enhances this effect, empowering you to appreciate the present moment with newfound enthusiasm.
It’s also has great stress-relief benefits. Whether counting yoga beads during your practise, or simply meditating and using the mala bracelet to keep track of your breathing, you will feel more serenity for the rest of the day. It soothes the spirit and releases tension with each bead. You’ll gain a wider perspective on things, preventing largely insignificant problems from overwhelming you.
Many people claim that it enhances their creativity and ability to retain information. People speak of memory feeling a lot clearer, intentions that were previously shrouded or confusing become apparent. Our innate ‘monkey mind’ is tamed through the use of a mala bracelet, enabling us to gain concentration and focus on things without instinctive distractions.
Mala beads really shine when it comes to meditation. Here are a few techniques in which using mala beads is common practise:
Japa meditation utilizes mala beads as a guide for counting while the eyes remain closed. The guru bead is the start and finish point and the wearer will move his or her finger along the beads until they make it back around. In Japa meditation, you tend to recite a mantra for each bead that you count. It uses the power of repetition to bring you into a meditative state. It reminds you to repeat the mantra throughout the day, not just during the practise, constantly training the mind in self-discipline.
A simple way to get started with Japa meditation is to say “I am ____” and fill the blank with what you feel, or what you want to feel. If you want to feel a certain way, speak of it as if you already receiving the benefits of that emotion. You can and will trick your mind into believing it, and the good parts from that feeling will be given to you. This is the power of repetition and meditation at work. Mala beads are just the assistant to make this possible.
Pranayama is another form of meditation commonly used with a mala bracelet. The beads are used to keep track of inhaling and exhaling. It’s a very breath-centric type of meditation, focusing on the way you take in oxygen. It releases built up tension and allows you to ease stress and anxiety. It’s been known to improve overall vitality because of the relaxing side effects of focusing on breath. The mala beads are there to stabilize this process.
Usually with Pranayama, you sit on the floor, back straight and upright. If you struggle to sit in this position for an extended period of time, then a chair is fine, or if possible, lie on your back. Focus on your breath and extend it so that you’re breathing in deeply and exhaling slowly but lengthily. Get into a rhythm that you’re comfortable with and let your breath whisk you away from the busy routine of daily life.
It’s said that the number 108 represents 108 specific points on the body and that using a mala bracelet can individually heal each one. This effect is enhanced tenfold if the mala beads are made from a type of crystal such as quartz, known for its powerful healing properties.
Meditating with mala beads encourages awareness of the state of the body, bringing about a healthier lifestyle as a result. Becoming more attuned to your body’s needs and wants can dramatically increase the standard of living and change the way you choose to nourish yourself.
Traditionally, mala beads were created from organic matter such as animal bones or seeds. Nowadays, they’re generally designed using smooth gemstones that carry with them all sorts of additional healing qualities.
Meditating with mala beads dissolves the constant worries about what the future may hold. It releases tension that prevents you from enjoying the present, and allows you to let go of the past. They return the power of the mind to you, overriding negative thoughts.
Carve out a slice of time each day and get into a routine with the yoga beads. 10 minutes will be fine to begin with. Ensure that there are no distractions and dedicate this time purely to healing. Attach a spiritual goal that you intend to pursue to your daily practise. Your progress will startle you. Update the goal regularly as time goes by and feelings change.
Mala beads are a brilliant way to bring harmony to the soul, relieve stress and anxiety, and make meditation a consistent and integral part of your life.