Malas are a string of beads used for meditation. They help with concentration by giving you something to focus on, but they also can have a more spiritual side. A mala can help you to manifest some sort of wish or goal or help you find a new connection with a mantra, affirmation or even your breath.
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How to Choose a Mala
If you’re in a store with the malas, try holding them towards your heart or your third eye, ideally with both hands. See which one speaks to you- makes you feel something. Often, you will be drawn to the gem, crystal or theme that you need most. Some people say that the mala will be drawn to you! If you’re shopping online, often you will still be drawn to one that will resonate with you the most. Most malas also have a description of the beads that were used and how they can benefit you. Many were made with an intention or wish the mala can help manifest.
How to activate your Mala
To activate your mala, whether you made it, bought it, or received it as a gift, you can do a small ceremony before wearing it. To start, light a candle or incense or make your space safe and sacred in whatever way you usually do. Find a comfortable seat like you would for meditation- sit up tall, and straight in a calm, mindful way. Start by getting in touch with your breath. Focus on it and if thoughts come, allow them to pass. Then starting from the guru bead (the biggest one that the tassel or decoration comes from) start to run the mala through your fingers, one bead for each breath. However, this technique can be adapted to fit your needs- find your own way. As you do this, think of an intention you wish to lock into your mala or something you would like to manifest with the energy of your mala. Also, you can chant “Om Hrim Namah Shivaya Om” aloud or internally. This mantra is traditional for activating and energizing a new mala. This phrase salutes Shiva (God of creation and destruction), brings together masculine and feminine, and opens the mind to the divine. When you finish your ceremony, hold your mala to your heart and your third eye. You can sit for another moment if you wish. Now, the mala is yours, bound to you spiritually through your ceremony. It contains the power and energy you activated it with. The mala still carries its same spiritual powers if you wear it as a bracelet or necklace.
How to use a Mala for Meditation
Before you begin, you can bow to each of the 4 directions to connect with the universe. Or set an intention or devote your meditation to a God, Goddess, friend or cause.
Start by finding a comfortable seat. Cross your legs or try to lotus position. Also, you can sit in a chair, sit on a meditation cushion or bolster or lay down if you prefer. It’s your meditation, so find what works for you. Just be sure you can stay aware– you don’t want to be so comfortable that you may lose focus or fall asleep. Hold your mala at the guru bead (the big one) between your thumb and middle or ring finger (the pointer finger is associated with the ego, which is undesirable). As your meditation progresses, you will move the beads through your fingers one at a time.
Using the mala with your breath
You can associate the beads to your breath- inhale and exhale. (Or try kumbhaka: add a pause in between your inhale and exhale by retaining your breath for a couple of counts. To start, try inhaling for 4 breaths, retaining for 2 and exhaling for 4).
Using your mala with a mantra
Alternatively, and perhaps more traditionally, you can use a mantra for your meditation. In this case, you will say the mantra aloud or internally with each breath. You can try traditional sanskrit mantras or mantras in English, like Thich Nhat Hanh’s inhale: calm/exhale: ease or inhale:present moment/exale: wonderful moment. Also affirmative statements work as mantras, like “I am” for the root chakra.
Using your mala to manifest
If you would like to manifest a wish, you can ask the universe for help with each bead’s movement.
There is no limit to the mantras, breaths, and concepts you can attach to your beads for your meditation.
Sealing your practice
Also check out our article on how to make a mala (click the image below)