The Mala Guide
what are mala beads or japa malas?
A Mala is a strand of 108 beads plus a guru stone (which could be a tassel and in our case, the hanging gemstones or sterling silver clasp) that are traditionally used to count mantras during meditation. I knot mine every three beads with a special, strong cord. Traditionally used as a tool to help the mind focus on meditation, you don't have to be religious or have any spiritual practice or even meditate for that matter. You can simply wear them as a reminder of an intention you've set.
why use a mala for meditation?
If you practice meditation, then you already know how hard it is to focus the mind for a period of time. A mala acts as an anchor and allows you to keep easy count.
why do I use gemstones?
My malas are made with semi-precious gemstones which are believed to emit their own special vibration and healing energy*. But I believe that you engage the energy of the gemstones with your prayers, energy, hopes and dreams.
I design my malas to include .925 sterling silver beads, wire and accents which normally come from Bali. All of the gemstones are 100% genuine. Some of the stones are slightly enhanced by the manufacturer (which is typical for the entire gemstone industry) but I only purchase the best quality and the most natural beads available. Due to the natural materials used, the color and the size of the beads may vary.
If you are not into meditation or yoga, just wearing or carrying a Mala can help you be a reminder of an intention you've set.
how to choose a mala necklace
There's no right way to choose your mala. If you are trying to choose a crystal for a specific reason, then focus on that reason, take a deep breath and allow your intuition to choose the right crystals. If it’s for someone else, focus on that person.
The one you need will let you know, you will sense it – it might “catch your eye”, be a “must have”, “feel right." You might choose by tuning in to how you feel when looking at a specific mala. Or you may choose based on your favorite color, a specific design that catches your eye or specific gemstone properties.
Choosing crystals is mainly about using your intuition and using your six senses as an extension of that intuition. Remember that crystals will choose you as much as you choose them!
how to use a mala
The mala is traditionally held in the right hand. Begin at the summit or guru of the mala, the larger bead at its base. Drape the first mala bead, the one adjacent to the guru on your right, in between your thumb and middle finger. Use your thumb to slide the first mala bead down and move to the next bead. Repeat this movement for a count of 108, 54, 27, 21 or 19 beads.
During this process you may choose to focus on your breathing, moving past each mala bead as you take an in breath or an out breath. As you do so the mala acts as an object that aids in a single pointed focus on your breath.
In other meditations, you may wish to focus on something that you wish for in yourself or something you wish to understand about yourself. For example, if you are working through an emotion in your life, such as forgiveness, you may want to use your mala during a meditation for forgiveness. As you pass over each mala bead you may want to imagine radiant loving energy passing through your body and then flowing to the person or situation you need to forgive. If you repeat this 108 times over one meditation, several weeks of meditation, or longer you will notice a shift in your consciousness and energy state.
Selecting the right mala for your practice can be a challenging task given the wide variety of products on the market. Some malas are made in traditional materials such as rudraksha seeds, bodhi seed, or yak bone.
Other malas, such as mine, are made from gemstones, which have several advantages from a physical and spiritual perspective. These mala beads are typically heavier and smoother. The weight becomes an advantage as you hold your mala between you thumb and middle finger because gravity helps hold the mala in place. Gemstones are also smooth and can glide with more ease.
Finally, gemstones carry special and specific energetic properties which can help you choose an emotional or spiritual aspect that you want to work on through meditation, and your mala can become a focused object that you carry with you to help you in your spiritual journey.
When someone doesn't know what mala to choose, I ask them to choose the one they're attracted to. That's usually the one they need in their lives at the moment.
Visit the gemstone properties page to discover the perfect gemstone for your practice.
Other Uses for Malas
Many people choose to use their mala in contexts outside of seated meditation. Wearing a mala as a bracelet or necklace is common. This helps keep your affirmations or intentions with you throughout the day.
People may choose to carry their mala in a mala bag that is kept in a pocket or purse as another way of keeping their practice with them as they move through their lives. Having your mala with you at all times means that you can use it while in waiting rooms, while in transit, while in lines or while taking a break.
Other people keep their mala in their meditation shrine when it is not in use. A mala can become a beautiful feature of your sacred space, adding color, texture, and intention to your shrine.
Finally, some people take their mala to yoga practice and coil it at the top of their yoga mats (please don't bring your mala into a hot yoga class as it might get damaged). They believe this helps the mala absorb the energy of their physical practice and helps them carry their yoga practice with them when off the mat.
Whichever way you choose to use your mala, mala beads can be a representative object of your intentions or affirmations and are powerful for helping focus the mind on that which you most hope to develop through your yoga and meditation practice.
To learn more about gemstone properties go here
To learn about which stones work for specific situations go here
To learn about crystals go here
For more information see:
"The Book of Stones: Who They Are and What They Teach" ~By Robert Simmons
"The Crystal Bible" ~By Judy Hall
* These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The results are the sole responsibility of the wearer.
**Please note that healing crystal meanings are spiritual supports to healing and can not be taken as prescriptions or healthcare information. Please consult your physician for any medical inquiries.