A mala or japa mala is an eastern rosary with 108 beads. Mala beads are used in Buddhism and Hinduism--especially in Tibetan Buddhism--for counting prayers, mantras and chants. The number of beads ensures that the worshiper repeats the mantra at least 100 times, with extra beads to allow for omissions made by mistake. Mala beads are commonly made from wood--especially sandalwood and the sacred wood from the bodhi tree. The more expensive beads are made from semi-precious stones, while some are even made from seeds or bone. Mala beads are very simple to use and are often used by followers of yoga and meditation.
Ensure the room you choose to meditate in is free from distraction and electrical equipment like the television or radio is turned off. If you live in a busy house, try to meditate when other people are out. Alternatively, explain to everyone that you need an hour or so of peace. Some people like to have some quiet music in the background to filter out street noises, and this is fine as long as you choose something that is not distracting. Meditation music is available to buy and is specifically designed to create a sense of calm.
Sit in a comfortable position. Whether that is the lotus position--a cross-legged position commonly used in meditation--sitting on the floor leaning against a wall or even lying on the floor, choose a position that is comfortable and relaxing.
Hold the mala beads in your right hand. There are two ways to use the beads. The first way is when the mala hangs between the thumb and ring finger and the middle finger is used to rotate the beads during the mantra. The second way is to hang the mala on the middle finger, using the thumb to rotate the beads. The index finger never touches the mala. Choose whichever way works best for you.
Begin your meditation at the summit bead. This is the one bead in the mala that is larger than the rest. The summit bead is never passed over, so if you wish to do more than one round, turn the mala over and begin again, moving in the opposite direction. There are a number of online stores where you can purchase mala beads; Buddhistmala.com offers a wide selection of handmade mala beads.
Repeat your mantra either aloud or silently. Close your eyes and breath deep and evenly. Count each bead with your thumb as you say your mantra. Push the bead away as you finish each mantra and touch the next bead. When choosing your mantra, think about what you want to achieve, peace or enlightenment, for example. Yogaholidays.net offers a range of chants and mantras to choose from. Let your instincts guide you when choosing a mantra.
This meditation should be practiced every day for 40 consecutive days. Some people believe this empowers the mala and it should then be worn or placed in a pocket to transmit the mantra energy to the wearer.
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