Malas have become the “it” piece of jewelry these days – you can find them hanging in almost every yoga studio, whether as a piece of decor or around the neck of your instructor, and more and more often, can be seen on your friends and family, being worn as a fashion statement.
With the rising popularity in the Western world of “enlightenment” and “self-care”, all of a sudden there has been a major shift towards spirituality and the effects of the world around us on our own mental, physical and spiritual health.
Although of course these pieces are beautiful, they also have a much deeper meaning, and it’s important to acknowledge the incredible power they can provide to your life.
Malas are pieces of jewelry that have been used for centuries in both Buddhist and Hindu traditions, serving as a counter for personal mantras or meditations. They consist of 108 beads, or a multiple/factor of 108, but the reasons WHY this is the standard are a bit “open to interpretation”.
Here are a few of the ideas:
- 1. There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet (the ancient script of India), with a masculine and feminine version to each, totalling 108.
- There are 108 energy lines (in relation to chakras) connecting to the heart, one of which believed to be the path to self-realization.
- Mathematicians believe 108 to be the number of “wholeness” as 108 has appeared in many scientific findings the average distance from the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters.
- There are 108 sacred sites (pithas) throughout India, and 108 marma points (sacred places on the body).
- Number 1 stands for God/Goddess (or whatever Deity you worship), the universe or your own highest truth or ; 0 stands for the void, emptiness and humility in your spiritual practice; and 8 stands for infinity, continuance and timelessness.
Malas can be made of many materials – including wood, seeds or gemstones. Each material has its own healing properties, based on their matter and colour. They can be made in various patterns, but always include a guru bead and/or tassel – a key component in their use.
Malas: How to Use Them
To use your mala, it’s about as simple as picking a mantra/affirmation and using the beads to “keep count”, holding the mala in your dominant hand, and beginning at the guru bead and/or tassel, run your fingers across the beads using them to keep count of your repetitions. Take care to skip over the various “marker” beads, and to never pass over the guru bead. If you complete 108 repetitions and want to continue, flip the mala around and continue back away from the guru bead – as a measure of respect.
A mantra or affirmation is as simple as a short statement, meant to provide comfort and strength. These affirmations can be used to:
- Build self-confidence
- Affirm your personal power
- Break bad habits and build new healthier ones
- Embrace your inner and outer beauty
- Bring those desired positive changes into your life
To check out some FANTASTIC examples of mantras to find the perfect one for you at this moment in your life, check out Louise Hay’s website of affirmations here.
Some examples of powerful mantras include:
- I Am.
- I Love My Body.
- Every Cell Within Me is Healthy.
Many of us, myself included, have a tough time getting into that place of focus – these beads can help you to stay on track!
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, and where to find these handmade malas in the North Bay area.
A. (2015). Yoga Mala Beads Explained How to Use Them – The Journey Junkie. Retrieved November 18, 2016, from http://www.thejourneyjunkie.com/yoga-3/yoga-mala-beads-how-to-use/
(2016). What are Mala Beads? | Meditation Beads, Yoga Beads, Prayer Beads | Tiny Devotions. Retrieved November 18, 2016, from http://www.lovetinydevotions.com/what-are-mala-beads-108/
The Meaning of Mala Beads How to Use them for Mantra Meditation. (2015). Retrieved November 18, 2016, from http://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/the-meaning-of-malas/
Rea, S. (2007, November 13). The Number 108. Retrieved November 18, 2016, from http://www.yogajournal.com/article/practice-section/the-number-108/
Wray, A. (2014, April 20). Why are there 108 beads on a mala? – Mala Collective. Retrieved November 18, 2016, from https://www.malacollective.com/blogs/mala-collective/12784477-why-are-there-108-beads-on-a-mala