Mala beads act like an anchor to focus and quiet the mind during meditation. They can either be used with the 2nd finger to rotate the mala 1 bead at time or using the thumb to rotate the bead while the mala hangs on the 3rd finger. Either way the index finger should not touch the bead as it represents the ego, considered as an impediment to self-realization.
Mala beads necklaces have been worn for thousands of years by yogis and spiritual seekers from all over the world. They’re made in a wide range of different colors and materials. While they’re used for generally the same purpose, they may signify different things to people who wear them.
What Is A Mala?
A mala is a string of 108 beads with one bead as the summit or head bead called a ‘sumeru.’ Malas are used as a tool to help the mind focus on meditation or count mantras in sets of 108 repetitions.
Why Use A Mala?
Meditation can be somewhat difficult to sit and quiet your mind for any period of time (especially as a beginner); the mala provides an “anchor” of sorts which allows the user to keep easy count during mantra repetitions such as Om Namah Shivaya. Meaning, “I bow to Shiva.” Shiva is the supreme reality, the inner Self. It is the name given to consciousness that dwells in all. Shiva is the name of your true identity- your self.
How Is A Mala Used?
The mala is traditionally held in the right hand and used in two ways; in one method, the mala is hanging between the thumb and the ring finger. The second finger is used to rotate the mala by one bead toward oneself with each repetition of breath or mantra. In the other method, the mala is hanging on the middle finger, with the thumb used to rotate the mala just as explained; one bead at a time.
Either way, the index finger is never used to touch the mala. (The index finger represents ego, seen as the greatest impediment to self-realization in ancient Hinduism). The practice begins at the summit or head bead and continues around the loop until the head bead is reached again.
In Hinduism, the head bead is never passed over, so if more than one round is planned, the mala is turned around to proceed again in the reverse direction.
How Is A Mala Worn?
Malas make beautiful necklaces, and can be looped multiple times around your wrist. It’s a common belief that when malas are used regularly for meditation and repeating mantras, they absorb the vibrations of the practice. So the longer you wear it the more positive energy it absorbs and reflects back.