How To Meditate With A Mala
Malas are powerful meditation tools for bringing your positive intentions deeper into your heart and mind. While meditating with a mala can seem intimidating, it is actually a simple practice that anyone who has a mala can do. Those who struggle with traditional meditations often find malas to be a helpful aid in concentration which allows for a deeper meditative experience. Malas serve as a continual reminder of your intentions from the first time you pick it out to the ways you utilize it in your everyday life. There are many different ways you can approach your mala meditation practice. We will share a few of our favorite ways to meditate with a mala so that you can pick the ones which resonate most with you.
Mala making as a meditation
One of our favorite ways to meditate with a mala is during the creation process. While you can purchase a pre-made mala, creating it yourself with a mala kit will help you to feel more invested in your future intentions. Just like a gardener faithfully tends to a plant from seed until fruition, you can intimately bring your mala into being bead-by-bead while weaving intention into every step of the process. The fruit of your mala is the intention that it helps you find in your life. The intentions you weave are like love letters you write to yourself. Creating your own mala can be thought of as writing those words from your inner voice, instead of reciting someone else’s poetry.
Drishti is a Sanskrit word used in yoga which means to create a focused gaze. You are often encouraged to find a drishti while you are practicing yoga so that you can deeply concentrate on the intention of your practice. Much of the process of making a mala is repetitive and gives you a deep focus in the same way. By giving your mind something to follow it allows some of the ceaseless mind chatter to quiet so you can find both deep peace and space for your inner voice to speak.
When you are ready to make your mala, we recommend setting aside time and creating a sacred space to do so. You can get creative in what your space looks like. It can be done on your couch with a mug of tea and a candle burning, or maybe you want to take a blanket to the woods and listen to the birds sing as you work. Your spiritual practices are yours to create, and we believe they become more powerful when you infuse them with the things that light you up.
How to meditate with your mala
Traditionally, meditating with a mala is done by reciting a mantra 108 times as you move your fingers around the 108 smaller beads of the mala. If you are interested in learning more about the history of malas and the significance of the number 108, you can check out our post What are Mala Beads?
For your mala meditation, you will want to find a comfortable seated position. If sitting upright is not comfortable, you can sit on a pillow, lean against a wall, or come down onto your back. Many people warn against resting on your back because you may fall asleep. If you find this happens for you, try a different position where you can be comfortable but remain focused.
Some traditions suggest holding the mala in your right hand and letting it dangle between your middle and pointer finger while you count the 108 beads. There are less formal teachings which say you can hold it in either hand and encourage finding a position that is most comfortable for you. We suggest trying out these different ways and deciding which works best for you.
Before you begin counting, hold your guru bead (the larger bead) and take a moment to focus on your mantra. This guru bead is not counted in the 108. The mantra you recite is highly individualized based on the intentions you have chosen. If you are unsure what a mantra is or want some help choosing yours, we have created a guide to help you do just that: What is a Mantra? How do I Create One?
Once you have chosen a mantra and are ready to begin reciting, choose which hand to hold your mala in. Starting with the mala beads to the right of the guru bead, let the beads dangle on your middle finger and let your thumb move over each bead as you recite your mantra (out-loud or in your mind). Tradition says to avoid letting your pointer finger touch the beads as they represent the ego. Continue this practice with each of the mala beads until you reach the guru bead again.
When you finish your meditation practice, take a few moments to sit with yourself and your mantra. When you are ready, find some gentle movements and slowly open your eyes if you closed them. If you like, you can bring your hands together at heart center and bow. This gesture represents bowing to the light, both in yourself and others, and can be a beautiful way of sealing your practice.
Breathing with your mala
Connecting to your breath is an important part of your mala meditation journey. Before beginning your meditation, take a moment to notice your breath. Finding some deep, full body breaths will help ground you in the present moment. Once you have cultivated awareness around the breath, start to focus on your mantra. You can begin your mantra reciting, as described above, whenever you are ready. To invite in extra focus continue to find a full, intentional breath with each bead that you count, while simultaneously repeating your mantra to yourself.
Your mala as a continual reminder
Every time you meditate with your mala you are infusing it with more intention and healing energy. The mala becomes so immersed in this energy that it will continually draw you back to your intention each time you wear, see, or even just think about it. Wearing your mala, or hanging it somewhere you will see often, can become as much of a practice as a seated meditation. The more you can remind yourself of your intention, the deeper your focus will be, and the more these intentions will begin to turn your whole life into a meditative experience. Choosing to come back to your intention and to your breath each time you see your mala will become like a warm hug from a dear friend who is continually reminding you of all the magic you hold.