Mala beads (or prayer beads) are used throughout the world as an aid to prayer, relaxation or meditation.
They can be made from many different materials depending on the desired aesthetic or qualities.
To use a Mala, hold the bead to the right of the guru bead (the starting bead-called the guru bead as it represents the relationship between student and teacher through which wisdom is traditionally passed in Buddhism).
One by one pass the remaining beads through your fingers whilst taking a deep, slow breath or mentally or verbally reciting a mantra with each bead.
(A mantra is a word or sound repeated to aid and aim concentration-more information on mantras coming soon)
If your Mala has spacer beads between sections of larger beads, these can allow for you to return your consciousness momentarily to the present so as not to get ‘lost’ in the meditation but to carry it into reality.
Traditionally a Mala would be a sacred possession and it would be frowned upon even to touch another person’s Mala.
They are commonly worn today as a fashion item around the neck but would more traditionally be worn wrapped around the right wrist.
Further to meditating with Malas, I have found the act of making them to be hugely relaxing and meditative in itself, reciting mantras with each knot that is tied and would recommend the process to anyone wanting to have a really strong connection to their beads!
As well as using Malas in my own meditation practice, my oldest daughter uses them when she can’t sleep or when she’s scared. They help her to refocus her energy on her breathing, or she likes to count them until she feels calm again–plus, anything shiny is bound to make her happy!!
(If you’d like to take a look at my hand-knotted malas please feel free to follow the link to my Etsy page)