Mala beads, also known as the Buddhist rosary, are a string of 108 beads that are generally used to help recite mantras during meditation. Some mala have less, 21 or 28 are used for prostrations.
They are used in meditation to help focus the mind. Meditation can be quite difficult: you may feel too relaxed and fall asleep, or your mind is all over the place, jumping from thought to thought and having a hard time concentrating. Mala beads help anchor the mind to the task at hand and provide focus for your mantra. They can also help you regulate the rhythm of your mantra and your breathing.
There are many different types of mala, most are made from wood: rosewood, tulasi, sandalwood, all of which have different properties. For example, sandalwood promotes tranquility during meditation, rosewood strengthens the aura, and tulasi is an extremely sacred wood used in the worship of Shri Krishna.
You can also buy gemstone crystal mala which again can be chosen to enhance the spiritual, emotional and physical as different crystals have properties that heal and enhance all of these. For example, calming mantras should be recited using white beads, such as crystal or mother-of-pearl, and increasing mantras should be recited using gold, copper, silver, or lotus seed malas. Rose quartz is known to stimulate the heart chakra and promote kindness, patience, and compassion, so it would be a good choice for meditations that focus on matters of the heart or to develop more of these traits. Malachite helps to release negativity and restore balance and peace of mind, so it would be a good mala choice for meditations to enhance positive thoughts and self-confidence.
The recitation of the mantra begins on the count next to the sumuru or peak count and then, with each recitation, one count is advanced. When you reach sumeru again, continue this time in the opposite direction. Your mala should be held in your right hand, never let your index finger come in contact with the beads and do not touch the sumeru or top bead, this is just a guide. Use your thumb to lightly touch each bead as you recite. Don’t count the sumeru either, just keep going until you’ve recited 108 times.
When you decide on a mantra, make the intention as clear as possible and don’t spend too much time thinking about it, let yourself be guided by your intuition or instinct. If possible, it is best to choose a new mala when changing mantras, as it is infused with the energy of the old mantra.
With regular use, your mala absorbs the vibrations of your mantra and becomes charged with your energy. Eventually it becomes your own portable sacred space, imbued with your intent to change. You should keep your mala in a bag or bag and never let it fall on the ground. They are not traditionally worn around the neck or wrist, but are kept solely for meditation purposes. Although some people like to use them or allow others to do so, once they have been charged with the energy of the meditations.
In short, it is not vital for meditation to use mala beads, but for many people, especially novices, it is a useful tool to help the mind stay focused on repeating the mantras. It also helps you keep track of the number of repetitions you’ve done. An added benefit of using mala beads is that you can choose a material that balances and enhances the intentions of your mantra.