Mala Beads Meaning
Japamala or mala beads are a bead construction usually made up of 108 beads, strung up in a single accessory. While other bead counts exist, 108 beads are generally the average. Mala beads are prayer beads, and these are used to guide prayer and meditation, and these also work as an aid when a person is setting spiritual intentions. These beads are associated with various faiths and cultures, including Hinduism and Jainism.
Buddhists are also known for using them. In Roman Catholicism, the equivalent of mala beads is the Holy Rosary, which is associated with the Blessed Virgin. Some mala beads have an individual 109th bead that is covered with a soft tassel. The tasselled dot is usually just a decorative feature, but it may also be used for helping the user count how many prayers he/she has spoken.
Mala beads come in countless shapes, styles, and forms. The most popular types of malas are bracelets and long necklaces. Both models are worn and used by yogis and teachers of spiritual practices and Zen meditation. While it is true that malas are used in different faiths, malas can also be designed or used to work with any kind of spiritual practice or belief, including meditation and energy healing.
How to Use Mala Beads?
The best way to use mala beads is to figure out what you want to gain from having one in the first place. Take note that you can create your mala beads by constructing one from a variety of cords and wires and of course, with beads that you have purchased individually for your mala construction.
Mala beads can be used to combine different gemstones and other materials for your intentions and meditation practice. We recommend familiarizing yourself with the different chakras, as each chakra holds unique capabilities related to your daily activities and skills.
Let’s go into the technical details of mala beads, so you have a guide when constructing your own. An average mala bead construction has five parts: accents, spacers, 108 primary beads, guru bead, and tassel.
You can substitute any particular charm or talisman for the tassel, or you can keep the tassel and simply add the amulet or talisman to below the guru bead, which is the final point of mala beads. Snake knots are usually used to seal mala beads, with the tassel as the terminal point, still. Beads measuring six to eight millimetres are often used for beaded construction, while the string will weigh anywhere from 22 inches to 36 inches. Again, these are not hard and fast rules, as mala beads have always been constructed according to the customer preferences and needs of the user.
What size of beads should be used?
If the mala beads are going to be used for setting intentions and praying, we recommend the more traditional eight-millimetre beads as they would feel better when you are holding them. When mala beads are used for prayer and chanting, you are going to be holding them for quite a while, so it’s crucial that they feel comfortable on your hands.
If you have arthritis or any other joint condition that makes it difficult for you to hold on to small or beautiful objects, try to find beads that are larger than 8 mm. These may be slightly heavier after bead construction, but at the same time, each of the beads will be easier to hold on to while you are reciting your prayers or intentions, or while you are chanting. Chanting and meditation require utmost focus and patience, and whatever makes the experience more comfortable should be tried.
If you find eight-millimetre beads cumbersome on the hands because you are used to Roman Catholic rosaries, we recommend going down to the six-millimetre range instead. These will be closer to what you are used to.
What is the guru bead for?
The guru bead, located at the terminal point of mala beads, is used to represent your spiritual teacher, guru, or mentor. This unique signifies your intimate bond with your teacher. In spirituality, the relationship connects you to the power and wisdom of the guru, and your intentions and prayers can be amplified and transmitted more clearly to the heavens with the help of this bond. You can also dedicate this bead to your guru as a sign of respect for his/her teachings.
How do you hold mala beads?
In Tibet, there are no rules on which hand should be used to hold prayer beads. In Hindu practice, the right side is used. We feel that you should let your intuition guide you primarily when using mala beads for the first time. As with all spiritual tools, it would be best to allow yourself to be guided by the spirits and the energies around us. In the end, there is no right or wrong way to use spiritual tools, so long as you can use them to enhance your practice.
Mala beads can also be worn around the neck while you are praying or meditating. If you are not chanting a structured prayer, then there is nothing wrong with merely wearing it while meditating. If you want to use mala beads to recite mantras, the first step is to reflect on your intention for the meditation first. Hold the mala beads in one hand and start with the first bead right after the guru bead. Focus on your mantra or intention and ignite a positive feeling in your heart. You will feel your mind and heart-opening up with light.
Recite your mantra clearly, either verbally or in your mind. Make sure that you maintain a positive note in your mind and body while doing so. Allow your fingers to climb to the next bead in the mala beads. Perform the recitation again. Make sure that you maintain the feeling of warmth and happiness as you do so.