Mala necklaces are a meditation tool that has been used in Buddhism and Hinduism for centuries. However, anyone can wear and use a mala!
You may be used to seeing them around yoga studios and see random people wearing them around their neck or on their wrists, there is actually a reason why we wear them when we’re not meditating! They are meant to serve as a reminder and bring mindful moments into our day.
There are many variations, but typically each mala has 108 beads (a very sacred number in ancient India), plus one larger bead called the guru bead which signifies the starting and finishing point. A mala is used to keep track of breath or mantra repetitions during meditation. Mantras help keep focus while meditating and bring intention into your life. Choose a mantra based on what you want to develop in your life such as “I choose joy” or “I am capable” or “I am healthy”. You can say this aloud or in your mind each time you pass your finger over a bead. If you are simply using the mala to control your breath basically each time you move your finger over a bead take another breath.
Here is how to use a mala necklace for meditation along with what other materials you can incorporate into your practice:
1) Sit somewhere comfortable without much distraction. You can use blankets or pillows to help with comfort. If distractions do come up during the meditation, that is ok. Simply accept them and continue meditating. It is part of your practice.
2) Hold the mala necklace in your right hand hanging over your middle finger with your index finger and use your thumb to separate the beads.
3) Start at the beginning beside the guru bead. With each breath or repetition of a mantra slide a bead down with your thumb away from you. Continue doing this with one bead per breath/mantra repetition until you have gone all the way around your necklace and are back at the guru bead. You will have taken 108 breaths or repeated your mantra 108 times.
4) Pause and reflect. If you want to continue, do not cross the guru bead. Instead, turn it around in the other direction and start again.
Forty days, at least once a day, is the typical time period to use a single mantra. Remember, wearing the necklace around your neck or wrapped around your wrist can also be a physical reminder throughout the day of your manta and to be mindful.