In this blog post, let’s explore the meaning of Mala beads, how to use them for spiritual healing. What materials they can be made from, and whether to use them in the form of a bracelet or necklace.
The word “mala beads” meaning is Sanskrit for “garland” or “wreath.” Buddhist prayer beads, or “Mala,” are used to count mantras and prayers. They are a popular type of religious prayer beads that have been used in the form of either a bracelet or a necklace for around 3,000 years.
They are most commonly used in religions that have roots in ancient Indian practices, such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, among many others.
How To Meditate With Mala Beads
There are many ways to meditate with mala beads. One way is by using them as a form of counting mantras or prayers which is what they are traditionally used for. You can also use them to focus on your breath and clear your mind from distractions by simply focusing on the bead in your mind.
The beads are traditionally draped over the user’s fingers to count each meditative inhale and exhale or mantra.
These religious meditation practices also have an extensive range of proven health benefits. Meditation is proven to help to reduce stress levels, improve sleep and lower blood pressure. It is also considered to be a form of powerful spiritual cleansing. This holistic practice originates in the oldest medicinal system known to mankind – Ayurvedic and yogic medicine.
Yogic medicine is the science of spiritual development with the ultimate aim of realization and harmony. Mala beads are traditionally used to ground the yoga practitioner during their meditation and keep them focused.
These beads also serve to remind the user how many times they have repeated their mantra and inhaled then exhaled. Similar forms of mala beads can also be found in more recently developed religions such as Catholicism too and are also often used as a secular mindfulness aid.
What Are Mala Beads Made Of?
Traditionally real mala beads are made of sacred Himalayan rudraksha, a unique and beautifully textured seed that originates from various South East Asian locations. Rudraksha is also known as Elaeocarpus Ganitrus or the ‘Tears of Shiva’. Shiva is one of the Holy Trinity within Hindu beliefs and can represent benevolence, but he also serves as a protector and destruction of evil. Traditional Buddhists will most often use sandalwood or seeds also.
Beads can come in many different colors, shapes, and sizes. They can be made from wood, stone, metal and seeds. The most common material is wood because it is lightweight and easy to wear and carry around.
Many people turn to crystal mala beads these days on their journey. In finding peace & balance, they also help in obtaining inspiration and motivation.
They’re a reminder of how important it is to be mindful of our actions during the day. So they are more versatile and don’t need to be specifically worn for only prayer and meditation rituals.
Crystal mala beads are becoming increasingly popular because they can be worn for different purposes. Some crystals and stones last longer than other materials, depending on how well they are cared for.
There are a range of healing crystals that can be used. You can use them to focus on different aspects of your life and intention setting purposes. It all depends on what you need from the session.
Combining chakra healing crystals of Amethyst mala beads is an excellent way to relieve work-related stress and anxiety. They have also shown to help improve concentration levels and are a good way of focusing on intention setting rituals. The mala helps in achieving inner peace, tranquility and happiness.
Why Do Malas Have 108 Beads?
Why 108 beads? The number 108 considered to be sacred in Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, Sikhism, astrology, and yogic practice.
The 108 mala beads history is considered to signify wholeness and perfect totality. Ideally, you should complete 108 inhales and exhales every day when practicing meditation for optimal positive energy. You can also stop short of this number or use the beads to count in reverse should you wish to go over this number.
This unusual number also has further interesting mystical and spiritual symbolic connections between meditation, mindfulness and yoga. These include:
- 12th Century Mathematician Fibonacci believed 108 to represent the wholeness of existence
- It is considered to connect the sun, moon and earth as their average distance is 108 times their diameters
3. 108 is the numerical equivalent of the mantra and vibration ‘Om’, also considered to be the most spiritual sound in meditation as well as being the sound of the void
4. It is believed to describe the human relationship with the spiritual and physical world
5. There are 108 energy lines to the Heart Chakra
6. It is believed that 108 inhales and exhales a day will help to lead the user to enlightenment
7. There are 54 feminine and 54 masculine characters in the Sanskrit alphabet
8. In Hinduism, it is said that the soul experiences 108 stages
So, while the exact origins of using 108 Mala Beads are up for debate, it makes sense that this number would be used in almost any philosophical context.
Guru Bead- What’s Their Purpose?
The guru bead is the 109th bead on your mala necklace or bracelet and is also known as the ‘Meru bead’ or the ‘mountain bead’. It is typically a larger sized bead with a tassel that is primarily intended to signify eternity and is worn pointed toward its user. But it is also there to signify the completion of a round of meditation. You can use each hand three times for every 18 mantras, which takes you to a total of 108 for each round. Once you reach the 109th guru bead you can stop or go again in reverse.
Is It Offensive To Wear Mala Beads?
Because mala beads are used for religious and spiritual purposes, some ask the question is it ok to wear them as jewelry? Purely for secular purposes could easily be seen as inappropriate. This could easily be misinterpreted as cultural appropriation, or similar.
You do not have to be an active member of a religious community to wear Mala Beads. But, if you are not using the mala beads for anything other than fashion, it may be wise to rethink your purchase.
Having said that, all religions are welcoming of new practitioners and interested in their teachings. So, if you are on the fence as to whether you wish to engage with the associated religious and spiritual practices, it is certainly worthwhile to explore their use, especially if you want to use them in your spiritual meditation practice.
Mala Necklace Or Bracelet - What’s The Difference?
The necklace form of this symbolic item places it closest to the user’s Heart Chakra. Mala bracelets however are also known as ‘Arhat beads’ and are usually made up of 18 beads, so are much smaller. Similar to a necklace, Mala bracelets can also be in the form of seeds, sandalwood and crystals.
When using mala necklaces, it is customary to break up the meditation into sections of 18, changing three times between each hand. 18 x 6 = 108, which is the total number of beads in a necklace. So, with a bracelet, you simply reverse beads with each hand switch.
Now you see how mala beads can fit into many different aspects of your life. Whether meditating, praying, or performing goal setting rituals,
You also have a choice in a variety of materials, such as beautiful wood or healing crystals. Using the beads either as a mala or bracelet, it’s totally up to you!
We hope you enjoy your spiritual journey with them.
Check out these articles for more information on healing crystals.
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