Welcome to Golden Lotus Mala's guide to meditation with mala beads a straight forward article covering nearly everything you need to know about meditation and prayer with your mala.
There are many ways mala beads can enhance your meditation practice, here are a few:
A mala’s most traditional use is for spiritual growth and to reach a higher state of mind, this is how mala beads are a functional tool for counting mantra or chanting as you advance through each of the 108 beads.
The simple act of moving the beads through your fingers has a calming effect all on its own, beads have used for calming anxiety, or as worry beads for centuries.
Mala beads are also used to assist in manifesting your goals by setting intentions for them, having them around helps to form a habit of self-care and meditation, they become the visual reminder of living with purpose.
Many practitioners like to wear their mala during meditation.
Now let’s dive into meditation with mala beads and creating a meditation practice, holding a mala correctly, saying a mantra with some suggestions and praying with these sacred beads.
Before Using Your Mala
If this is your first time using a mala, or you just purchased a new set of mala beads you may want to consider setting your intentions for them. Setting intentions with your mala beads can be helpful in manifesting your dreams and sticking with your goals. The mala not only is a reminder of your goals it also becomes a sacred tool that you infuse with blessings and mantras, the mala absorbs those vibrations and energy as you use it. Here’s a link to instructions on how to set intentions with your mala beads and an explanation of what intentions are.
Creating a Meditation Practice
In order to reap the benefits of mala beads and meditation, it is important to develop a consistent habit of practicing meditation daily if possible, even if it is for just 5 minutes to get started. Try starting with a breath meditation each day at the same time and in the same place, this will plant the seed of forming a good habit and if consistently tended to it will bloom into a day to day self-care ritual. It’s a good idea to settle on a time and meditation space as your go-to sanctuary each day.
In the beginning, you may have trouble staying with a daily routine, you may have the motivation to meditate but life seems to get in your way. Committing to practice and setting a goal to consistently meditate will sustain you through life’s ups and downs. The benefits of meditation are slow and steady over time, there is no quick fix, however, the action of meditation in itself is rewarding and feelings of stress relief and peace are often felt immediately afterward.
Mala beads can help to build your meditation routine. Place your mala beads on an altar or somewhere you can see them to remind you of your practice and intentions. You can also wear your new mala for 40 days to attune yourself with it, this is a fantastic way of creating a meditation routine and forming the daily habit.
How to Hold Mala Beads Properly
Which hand should you hold your mala beads in? There are different opinions on this practice, here’s the simplest explanation:
The Tibetan tradition says that there are not any specific rules in the way you count mantra or use your mala. Some believe holding your mala in the left hand symbolically represents bringing forth blessings and virtue. The most important aspect is your intention and sentiment, the purer of heart your prayers are the better!
In the Hindu ways, the mala is held in the right hand and this is because the left hand is considered to be unclean in India, as it's used in conjunction with going to the lavatory. While using mala beads it is believed to be disrespectful to use your first finger, which is known as the “accusing” or pointing finger, but any other finger is okay.
Whichever hand you choose to handle your mala the basic instruction is to gently and respectfully hold your mala beads and use the thumb to move the bead forward as you say mantra or count around the necklace. The large bead on the mala above the tassel is called the guru, meru, or end bead. Traditionally, out of respect, the practitioner never crosses over this bead but instead reverses direction after moving through the 108 beads.
How to Meditate with Mala Beads
A common and popular way to meditate with mala beads is to simply wear the mala around your neck (like a necklace) or carefully wrap it around your wrist. A mala acts as an anchor or physical reminder of your set intentions and is known to trigger your mind and body into a deeper spiritual state the more you practice meditation while wearing it.
You may also like to wear a mala for its energy healing properties, as worry beads, or as a reminder of mindfulness and being here in the moment. For suggested ways to wear mala beads, check out this article.
How to Say Mantra with Mala Beads
A mantra is a word or phrase with a powerful meaning, often chanted to discipline the mind as an aid to meditation. While a mantra is repeated, it acts as a point of focus to help unify the mind. The purer of heart the practitioner is while repeating the mantra the deeper the effect and the calmer and more unified they become in their meditation.
When saying a mantra, mala beads are used so that you can focus on the meaning or sound of the mantra rather than counting its repetitions. Here’s how to use mala beads with a mantra:
If you are ready to begin your meditation session, take a moment to reflect on why you are sitting to meditate today and what you would like to benefit from this practice.
Begin by holding the mala beads between your middle and ring finger. Using your thumb to hold it in place, find the bead next to the guru (the bead located at the bottom of the mala, near the tassel, sometimes the guru is a large stone, or charm).
Focus on your intention you want to manifest with positive feelings.
Recite your chosen mantra on the first bead, usually to the right of the guru.
Then use your thumb and middle finger to continue to the next bead reciting your mantra or prayers and continue around the loop.
When you have completed a round of beads you will have recited your mantra 108 times.
Upon reaching the guru bead demonstrate gratitude and positive energy in your closing thoughts and prayers.
“Om” Sanskrit meaning “It Is” or “To Become”. This is considered a most sacred mantra the vibration of the universal consciousness.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Gandhi
“Om Shanti Shanti Shanti” - Buddhist and Hindu, the starting of Om followed by peace of mind, peace of body, and peace of speech.
“Om Mani Padme Hum” - Buddhist, a description of this mantra is found here.
“I am that I am” - One of the Hebrew Torah’s most famous verses, and it was God’s answer to Moses when Moses asked for his name.
“Every day in every way I’m getting better and better.” - Laura Silva
“I change my thoughts, I change my world.” - Norman Vincent Peal
“Aham Prema” is a simple mantra to leave the past behind and bring peace to the mind, body, and spirit.
“Lumen de Lumine” clears your aura of darkness and fills you with positive energy.
“Aum Gum Shreem Maha Lakshmiyei Namaha” increases the flow of abundance in asking Ganesh to remove obstacles blocking your way.
Praying with Mala Beads
Another way to use your mala is to hold the beads in prayer form between your hands in front of your heart while reciting a prayer. Immerse yourself in unconditional love for the Divine. Bring your thoughts to a feeling and expression of self-love and love for all beings. Stress, dis-ease, and anxiety arise from not seeing yourself or the world as worthy of love.
A simple exercise while holding your mala beads in your hands is to bring your focus to the navel area, with each breath in is love for self, every breath out is compassion for all.
There are many ways to pray with mala beads, you can pray them in a similar fashion to other kinds of prayer beads and rosaries or maybe you have personal prayers you want to work through.
Here is a simple prayer meditation to get started:
Hold your mala between your hands in prayer pose just in front of your heart.
Close your eyes, follow your breath.
To yourself say, “May I be happy, May I be healthy, May I know peace.”
Bring your mind to a special person in your life, hold this person in your mind's eye and say: “May you be happy, May you be healthy, May you know peace.”
Now think of someone who is an acquaintance whom you feel positive feelings about, and in the same notion as before saying: “May you be happy, May you be healthy, May you know peace.”
In closing repeat this for all sentient beings: “May all beings be happy, May all beings be healthy, May all beings know peace.”