Mala Meditation Beads
A ‘mala’ is a string containing 108 beads with a bead at the summit known as the ‘sumeru’. Malas are generally made out of tulsi (basil) or sandalwood, crystal or rudraksh seeds although other materials are also used. These different kinds of materials represent different properties which subconsciously affect the thoughts and mind of the person using the mala.
What is the Purpose of Mala Beads?Your mind can sometimes tend to wander when you’re meditating which leads to a loss of concentration. For practising meditation, the mala can act as a kind of ‘anchor’ or grounding point enabling you to focus better. This can be extremely useful especially if you are feeling tired when you meditate which could cause you to fall asleep.
Conversely, if your mind is too active and over-energised, the mala beads will prevent you from becoming distracted or daydreaming. And, because the beads are moved in rhythm with both the mantra you are chanting and your breathing, it helps you maintain your concentration.
How are Mala Beads Used?Mala beads can be used in a number of ways in meditation. A popular method is to hang the string between your thumb and your third finger, traditionally in your right hand. Using your middle finger, you rotate the mala one bead at a time towards yourself, each time you repeat the mantra and take a breath.
A variation of this method is to hang the string on your middle finger and rotate the beads one at a time in the same fashion, only this time you use your thumb. The important thing to remember is that you never use your index finger to rotate the beads, nor does your index finger come into contact with the beads .You may allow the rest of the mala to coil on the floor in front of you or some people prefer to let it rest on their chest, in front of their heart.
You begin the procedure at the sumeru (summit) and repeat the process with all of the beads, continuing around the loop until you once again reach the sumeru. However, you must never pass over the sumeru. Therefore, if you decide you want to pursue a lengthier meditation session using the mala, you must then turn the mala around and repeat the process in the reverse direction.
The Properties of the BeadsAs mentioned above, the different types of mala beads represent different properties as follows:
- Tulsi – is sometime referred to as ‘sacred basil’ – this is meant to represent divinity itself and is the most sacred of all of the woods which are used in Indian worship. It clears the aura and increases the spiritual intensity of prayer and devotion
- Sandalwood – is renowned for both its cooling and medicinal properties and rotating sandalwood beads whilst meditating is said to promote calmness and a positive state of mind
- Crystal – promotes healing by neutralising the negative influences as well as balancing all of the energy Chakras. Many practitioners claim it is also beneficial for cellulite and cysts
- Rudraksh seeds – these are believed to help lower blood pressure and help to stabilise your entire system. They are generally used with the Shiva mantra with Rudraksh literally meaning ‘the eye of lord Shiva’.