Chances are most people know that they should have some sort of meditation in their regular routine. Unfortunately, that seems to be the extend of knowledge most people have when it comes to meditation.
So if you don’t know, there are many styles of meditation. While it would be great if we all had the freedom in our lives to meditate for hours upon end in a beautiful forest next to a waterfall surrounded by butterflies, that’s a pretty unrealistic life for most of us. (Don’t worry, I’m a little bit sad about it too.)
Today I want to cover just one style of meditation. It’s my person favorite, It’s meditation with the use of a Japa Mala.
As I was putting this post together, I debated how in depth I wanted to go about the history of the mala, what it’s made of, why it’s used, etc. But I think that if you’re reading this post, this is a new concept to you. So rather than give you a lengthy post to get through, we’re going to just hit the basics.
What is a japa mala?
A Japa Mala is a necklace used for a particular style of meditation. It can be worn as a necklace, wrapped for a bracelet, or be used only during meditation.
What is it made out of?
It is typically made of 108 beads, knotted on thread or string, a guru bead, and a tassel or charm. The beads can be stone, plastic, glass, wood, or even made of seeds.
How to use a Japa Mala:
1. Find a comfortable place to practice.
Many people have a dedicated area to do their meditation practice. It can be a particular corner in your home, the place you do your asana practice, or simply a place you will not be disturbed. Come to a comfortable seated position.
2. Hold your mala draped over your middle finger.
Hold the bead next to the large bead that connects the strands (this is called the guru bead). You’ll hold this bead between your thumb and middle finger, leaving the index finger free.
3. Pick your mantra.
Pick a mantra, or short saying that you’ll repeat during your practice. Your mantra can be anything helpful to you. It can be something simple, like, “breathe” or something a bit longer, like, “I am in control of my emotions”.
4. Repeat the mantra for all 108 beads.
Holding a single bead, you will say the phrase out loud or to quietly yourself. After you’ve completed one mantra, pull the next bead towards you, and repeat for the length of the necklace.
5. Repeat again, or end your practice.
When you work your way around the full mala and reach the guru bead, you may either end your practice, or flip the bracelet and continue back in the opposite direction to complete another full set.
That’s it! Not so bad, right?
I love this particular style most because I find that it totally keeps my focus. Rather than sitting and focusing on my breath for a certain length of time, I find that I love the specificity of this. Pick a mantra, say it once, say it twice, and so on, and when I get to the end of the mala, I either finish or do it again. The gol-oriented aspect of it is very helpful for me.
So give it a try! Let me know what you think in the comments below. What did you like? Was there parts that you didn’t like? And if you’d like to share, what was your mantra?