What are Mala Beads?
Mala beads have been widely used in Buddhist and Hindu prayer and meditation ceremonies for centuries. The primary functional use of the mala is to aid in counting the number of repetitions of mantras or phrases during meditation.
Traditional and Modern Materials
The traditional beads used in a mala are called Rudraksha seeds. These stonefruits are produced by a large evergreen, broad leaf tree typically found in India and Nepal. These special fruits are associated with the Hindu deity Shiva and are commonly worn for protection and to aid in meditation.
In the yogic tradition, the beads are used to guide you through a full cycle of 108 repetitions. Each mantra is counted on a mala bead so the practitioner can focus on the sounds, vibration and meaning of what is being said.
The extra 109th bead is called a sumeru, bindu, stupa or guru bead (which often symbolizes the guru from who the student received the mala or mantra, paying homage to the student-guru relationship). It is never counted among the repetitions but used as a marker for as a start and end for a cycle.
If you meditate daily or practice yoga, you probably own a set of Mala beads. Mala beads are also called Japa Mala. These are prayer beads that have been around for centuries in different religions, such as Catholicism and Hinduism. Traditionally, Mala beads consist of 108 beads, a guru bead that’s bigger than the others, and a decorative tassel on the end. Malas are used for holistic and mindfulness practices, and the basic design of the beads is deeply symbolic.
What is the significance of 108 repetitions of a mantra?
108 repetitions of a mantra may sound like a random number, but there’s a significance behind that number. Here are some common meanings behind Mala beads having 108 beads.
Heart Chakra: The chakras are the intersections of energy lines, and there are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra. One of them, sushumna leads to the crown chakra, and is said to be the path to Self-realization.
Sun and Earth: The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance from the Sun to the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun.
Moon and Earth: The average distance of the Moon from the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon.
Planets and Houses: In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108.
Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind when wearing this accessory
Firstly, it is important to charge or activate the healing properties in your Mala beads so they can operate and function at their highest vibrational level.
There are several ways on how to do it:
- Leave your beads out in the sunlight or moonlight for a few hours. The energy of the sun clears the beads which make them return to their own pure vibration. Just remember that extreme heat could damage the beads.
- Place them on top of clusters of crystals for at least 24-hours to cleanse them.
- Hold the mala in your dominant hand while closing your eyes and visualize a clear, pure light traveling from above through the chakras onto your Mala beads.
Secondly, Mala beads should be worn for 40 days to fully become one with your energy. To recharge your beads, simply place them in direct sunlight for an entire day or under the moonlight overnight.
Thirdly, never allow anyone to touch or wear your Mala beads. They are intimate and hold sacred properties that are based on your specific energy and purpose in life. Allowing someone else’s spirit and energy into your world could shift or even block your blessings. Lastly, under no circumstances should your Mala beads ever touch the ground because that’s a disrespectful and unethical practice that can release the positive energy and properties from your beads.