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You may be wondering, "what is a mala?" For thousands of years, yogis and spiritual enthusiasts have used Malas during meditation. Malas first emerged over 3,000 years ago in India in Buddhist and Hindu prayer during ceremonial meditation called Japa. Contemporaries today still use them for focus during meditation, yoga, and affirmations. These are widely found in a range of materials, including wood, metal, and stone.

In this article, we'll be exploring:
1. What are Mala Beads?
2. What is the Best Way to Wear Malas?
3. How Can I Use My Mala Beads?

1. What are Mala Beads?

Mala Beads have been used in Buddhist and Hindu prayer ceremonies and meditation for centuries. These are typically used to aid in counting the number of repetitions of mantras or phrases. In both Hindu and Buddhist prayer beads, there are typically 108 in a string, and there is usually a decorative tassel on the end of the strand, sometimes adorned further with embellishments or amulets. They are often compared to the Catholic rosaries, also used widely in religious applications.

"Mala beads meaning" is a common google search phrase, and one that we'd like to help you unpack. The meaning of these is deeply symbolic and spiritual, and can vary for each person and purpose. But using malas in meditation and yoga practice can aid in concentration and mindfulness. A mala consists of 108 beads, which is seemingly a random number, but several theories exist. Some believe the one represents God, the zero stands for humility, and the eight mirrors the infinity symbol. Others endorse the belief that malas become what is intended by the wearer, and it is these intentions that create energy and synergy.

The symbolism of a mala doesn’t stop here, many feel that the tassel also has an underlying meaning related to how many strands come together as one, a deeper message of unity and oneness. The Guru bead is directly secured to the tassel and, as such, has special significance. The Guru bead pays tribute to the relationship present in guru and student mentorship. If your strand is crafted traditionally, they will feature overhand knots which make them more durable, stronger, and versatile, as they can be used for Japa meditation practice which uses each bead for further repetitions and chants.

What is the Best Way to Wear Malas?

When it comes to wearing these, they are becoming more of a fashion statement among those with Bohemian style and flair. The tassel will hang low when worn as a necklace, so pair it with a shorter necklace and possibly even a choker.

Bohemian Style of wearing Mala Beads with a tassel
Image Credit: Blooming Lotus Jewelry

You can also feel the power when you wear them in conjunction with your gemstone pieces. Even consider looking for gemstones for added energy and healing properties. You could also consider raw stones that re-emphasize some of the traits that you may use in meditation, such as rose quartz for clarity, and jade for prosperity or fortune. If worn on the wrist, traditional malas are almost always worn on the right hand, wrapped around the wrist like a bracelet.

If you are going to wear Mala beads, there are a few rules you should know about. For example, it is not appropriate for your beads, either necklaces or bracelets, to ever touch the ground. Also, make sure that you are cleansing yourmala periodically, or when you feel like there has been a lot of negative energy around you. The generally used method is that you wear the beads for a period of 40 days so that they can become attuned to your energy. You can balance out the energy, and recharge them, by placing them in the direct light of the sun for an entire day, or the moon overnight. It is also suggested that you don’t allow others to touch, hold, feel, or use them. This is a practice that is currently debated as they are a useful prayer implement that many can benefit from, and it is for the betterment of all humanity to share this positive practice. If you are so inclined, go ahead and let others handle your prayer beads, as you can always cleanse and recharge them later.

How Can I use My Mala Beads?

If you're wondering how to use mala beads, the most widespread use is for improved focus and controlled breathing during yoga and meditation, or when praying. The best way to use your beads is to first take a few cleansing breaths and try to clear your mind. This is much easier when you are seated comfortably with your eyes closed and back straight. Try to think about your intention, use your mantra or chant, while continuing to visualize your intention. Hold the beads in your right hand, start at the Guru bead, and count, using your thumb to pull each bead to you with each mantra or chant. Take time and care to hold and handle the meditation beads, turn them individually in your hands and rotate each bead with your thumb and index finger. The knotting makes it easier to go from one bead to the next and helps with the tactile experience as you focus on your thoughts. Remember to breathe deeply, slowly, and relax during your practice. These beads also make for an effective aid during progressive relaxation practice when you are attempting to clear the mind and form intentions.

When you find your way back to the starter bead, you will have completed 109 repetitions, including the Guru bead, and you can reverse your direction if you choose for more mantras and meditation. Whether you pray, chant, or meditate out loud or silently is up to you. Just be cognizant and considerate of others if you are practicing in public forums, group meditations, or yoga classes as everyone else is trying to also clear their mind and focus.

Not into meditation? Don’t pray? That is alright, you can still use and wear these.

Mala handmade by Reflections of Zen, using artisan made tassel from WomanShopsWorld
Image Credit and Mala: Reflections of Zen, using a Silky Luxe Tasselfrom WomanShopsWorld

These beaded strands bring a natural, bohemian look to any apparel. Wear around town after your yoga class, with jeans on the weekend, or double up to wear with a business casual ensemble for work. Wearing your mala will call you back to your meditation and mantra throughout the day. These beaded accessories are definitely a conversation piece and currently very trendy, as lately many seem to be looking inward more to find finding meaning. Why not wear and use them in your own meditations or prayer practice? Use these tips provided to wear, use, and buy the perfect strand. Or buy these beads to share with someone as a special gift that will be cherished. Malas foster focus, encourage mindfulness and provide a powerful tool for holistic and spiritual wellbeing.

Interested in making your own mala? Download our free tutorial:
The Art of Mala Making Tutorial by WomanShopsWorld

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