What are Mala Beads? A Brief Introduction by Alba De Bejar
A new product has found its way into our stock and we couldn’t be happier about it. We are speaking of yogic Malas.
A prop specifically used in some Asian spiritual traditions to practice certain types of meditation with —particularly ‘mantra japa’— Malas are also beautiful ornaments made of beads that can be worn off the mat for that little extra ‘something’ of style.
Made of different types of stones, seeds, crystals, or even gems, classical Malas count 108 beads or multiples of this number, as well as a threaded tassel or special end-piece to close the necklace fully.
The number of beads in the mala is relevant in and of itself, for 108 has special spiritual connotations in many traditions across the globe. But regardless of this aspect or the material they’re made of, their main purpose is to serve as a meditative aid. Care to know how?
An Anchor for the Mind
Indeed, chances are that, if you’ve ever sat down to practice meditation, you’ll have had an opportunity to realize what you’re up against; that is, the naturally dynamic nature of the human mind.
For many of us, no sooner do we sit down to try and meditate —to relax and calm the mind— that a million different ideas, thoughts, and memories burst out of nowhere. And just like that, ‘doing nothing’ and ‘being in the moment’ become simply impossible. Something of an effort even.
Eastern traditions are well aware of this fact; which is precisely the reason why they came up with mala beads to help certain types of individuals harness the inherently dynamic nature of their mind.
Used alongside a special recitation, word/s, or mantra, mala beads provide an anchor for the mind. In Asian traditions, each bead of the mala represents one repetition of a given word or mantra —preferably in Sanskrit, though any language works.
With each internal repetition of the mantra, our attention gets swept away into the sort of subtle rhythm we are creating in our inner ear and away from the effort of having to ‘do nothing’ that many feel is implied by the word meditation. And so, round after round, we become internally absorbed into the melody of the mantra to the point where all the effort, attention and focus some of us associate with meditation just dissipates. Automatic repetition thus leads to relaxation and, step by step, bead by bead, the mind is acquiesced. It is in this state that meditation can best take place.
A Spiritually—Charged Talisman
In essence, then, Malas are mainly a vehicle for meditation to happen. But they are not without symbolic relevance; for rumor has it that their beads acquire spiritual powers the more repetitions one does. So we could say that they become spiritually charged by force of practice.
This is why so many traditions East and West imbue them with talismanic and protective powers, with healing properties or even with the ability to help those who wear them overcome any type of challenge. Not bad at all, am I right?
So now you know how powerfully beautiful and how beautifully powerful a simple chain of knotted beads can truly become!
- Tags: Meditation Yoga