How to Use a Mala for Mantra Meditation
One of the most joyful aspects of my work with Mala and Mantra is going out into the community and sharing my experiences with mantra meditation. Sometimes I find myself surrounded by people whose spiritual practice has spanned decades and who are expert gurus.
But more often, I find myself meeting people who are new to mantra meditation or who maybe have never even heard of a mala.
I find it to be a true blessing to get to be able to share what I’ve learned with those who are just getting started on their mindfulness journey. The following is an overview of some of the conversations I’ve had over the years with beginning and experienced practitioners alike. Keep reading to find out why malas and mantras may be the key to finding an accessible and sustainable path to enlightenment.
What is a Mala?
A mala, which is the Sanskrit word for “garland,” is a string or necklace made of 108 beads that can be used as a tool to aid in meditation. It is believed that malas were first created by stringing seeds together around 3000 years ago in India. In the Buddhist tradition, the number 108 represents each of humanity’s earthly desires, which must be overcome to reach spiritual enlightenment or Nirvana. In the Vedic tradition, 108 is a holy number that represents the oneness of our existence with the universe and all of creation.
In the middle of the mala, there’s a bead that’s bigger than the other beads. This bead is known as the “guru bead,” and its position on the mala lets you know where to begin and end your mantra meditation. Attached to the guru bead is a tassel which resembles a lily lotus and represents awakening, enlightenment or a uniquely personal goal.
Not only does the mala help with focus during meditation, but it can also help the wearer carry a sense of peace, calm, and mindfulness with them throughout their daily life. At mala and mantra, we handcraft our malas with beautiful semi-precious stones and sustainable wood beads whose holistic properties and energies provide wellness to their wearer whenever they choose to wear them.
What is a Mantra?
A mantra, which is Sanskrit for sacred sound, is a syllable, word, or group of words to be repeated during meditation to help create focus for attaining self-realization and self-transformation. The mantra can really be anything you want it to be. If you’re drawing a blank, you can find mantras in our newsletters and social media posts to get you started. We find that it’s helpful to first create an intention for your meditation and your mantra can come naturally from that intention.
Malas were designed to be used in what’s called japa or mantra meditation. Japa means “to recite” which is what you do as you move along the beads in a mala – you recite your mantra. Studies have shown that this repetition can help to calm your nervous system, which can boost your mood, create a sense of calmness, and decrease distractions by helping the brain to focus.
Think of malas and mantras as tools. While they may not be necessary to meditate, they do help tremendously. They can also be used independently. Wearing your mala necklace or bracelet can bring a feeling of peace and calm during stressful times, just as a mantra can be recited at any time to recenter, refocus, and remain present. However, when you put the two together, that’s when the true magic of meditation starts to happen.
Mala + Mantra
So now that you know what malas and mantras are, you’re ready to put them together and dive into your meditation practice. While having a guide is helpful as you begin exploring meditation and mindfulness, it’s important to remember that there’s no right or wrong way to practice mantra meditation. As you get more comfortable, we encourage you to tailor your mantra meditation to your own personal needs, which can change over time or on a daily basis.
1. Choose a set of mala beads that align with your desired energy and intention.
2. Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit. Meditation pillows can help, or feel free to use a chair if sitting on the ground is inaccessible to you.
3. Close your eyes and place your hand on the guru bead in the center of your mantra.
4. While holding the guru bead, take a few deep, slow breaths to quiet your mind and set your intention.
5. Once your intention is set, decide what your mantra will be.
6. Move to the next bead and recite your mantra. Try to sync your mantra with your breath.
7. Repeat your mantra as you move to the next bead and the next until you have made your way back around to the guru bead.
8. Pause on the guru bead without reciting your mantra. From here, you may reaffirm your intention and move around the beads once more in the opposite direction or you can choose to end your meditation with a few deep breaths and/or a prayer of gratitude.
That’s it! That’s all you need to start practicing mantra meditation. Just remember that it is a practice. With meditation and mindfulness, practice is the goal, not perfection. If you struggle to focus and you find your thoughts wandering, just know that this is very common. Simply acknowledge the thoughts as they enter your mind and then bring your focus back to your
If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to the Mala and Mantra team. We can help you find the best mala and/or mantra for whatever your intention might be.