Japa Mala Beads – How to Use a Mala?

You might have seen a lot of people holding a string of beads in their hands while meditating. Have you ever wondered whether there is any specific name for those beads? Have you wanted to know about their significance? Well, they are known as japa mala beads. What do these beads signify and what is the meaning of the name? Read on to know more about the meaning and the right way to use the mala.

Japa is a Sanskrit word and it means recitation”. Mala is also a Sanskrit word and it means garland”. These string of beads are used by people during meditation to count mantras (Sanskrit prayers). The mantras are counted in sets with each set having 108 repetitions. The basic purpose of chanting mantras is to invoke spiritual qualities. They can either be chanted aloud or silently.

Chanting prayers or mantras hold a lot of significance in virtually every religion across cultures. The mala can be made of different materials. The properties of the beads are believed to have energetic effects which are very specific. The beads are made of:

  • Wood
  • Semi-precious gemstones
  • Crystals
  • Hand-carved bone
  • Rudraksha beads
  • Sandal wood
  • Basil wood
  • Hemp tassels

According to yogic tradition, chanting mantras using japa mala beads helps to transform consciousness, fulfill desires and promote healing.

How to use a mala?
The practice of chanting mantras is an integral part of meditation. In order to meditate using japa mala beads, a person has to sit in a comfortable position. With both eyes closed, the person can then start chanting the mantras silently or aloud. The mind should be completely focused on the mantra, any other thoughts that come to mind must be let go of, the breathing should be slow and deep.

  • Firstly, hold the mala in your right hand.
  • Now, use your thumb to touch the bead and count” each mantra.
  • After completing the recitation, lightly push the bead away and move to the next one.
  • While doing so, your index finger should be extended and it should not touch the mala.
  • The large bead (also known as the meru or mountain) should not be touched or counted. It is just used as a starting and ending point.
  • Continue reciting the mantras and once you reach the meru”, continue backwards. You could keep doing so till you complete 108 repetitions. You could also do multiples of 108 repetitions.

Practicing meditation by using japa mala beads continuously for 40 days empowers the mala and the mantra that is used. You can then wear the mala or you can keep it close to you benefit from the positive energy of the mala and the mantra. One could also place the mala on others to transmit the energy.

Whenever you intend to use a new mantra, it is recommended that you use a new mala as well. When not in use, the japa mala beads can be can be stored in a clean and sacred place. You could store the mala in your prayer room or near the statue of a deity.

How can you choose a mantra?
A mantra is generally given to a person by a revered guru or teacher. You can also choose a mantra for yourself. While choosing a mantra, be very clear about your intention and listen to your intuition. If you are still confused and unsure, you could try out each mantra, chant it for a few repetitions and see how it feels.

Choose the one that feels the best and start meditating using japa mala beads and feel the positive energy for yourself.

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