More About Malas

Making you an informed mala buyer!

We’ve been selling malas for about a month now and we are getting a ton of questions like: what they are, how do you use a mala, and, why should you get one. So lets talk malas this article will give you some information to use when looking for one. You might not dig ours and that’s fine but this way you’ll have some info to take with you when you look.

What is a mala?

A mala is a string of beads used in mantra meditation, for more on mantra click here. A full traditional mala will have 108 beads not including the meru or guru bead or any markers/counters. They are used to aid in the practice of mantra meditation. They can be worn around the neck like a necklace or on the wrist. Full malas, ones with 108 beads, can be wrapped around the wrist and worn as a bracelet. Malas can also be specifically made as a bracelet our bracelet malas are a quarter mala (27 beads).

Construction

The common parts of a mala are: A meru or guru bead, 108 beads, a tail that attaches to the guru bead, marker beads usually at the quarters or every 27 beads, and a tassel. Some of those portions are optional. The bare requirements are 108 counters on a string tied in a loop. There are malas that are literally 108 knots tied in a loop of string. Other than that malas are really only limited to the makers imagination. Let’s break down the parts of a mala a little further.

Meru/Guru bead

This bead is the singular bookend to a mantra meditation session when using the mala. Meaning you begin and end the practice with the guru bead. They can be tri-drilled (in the form of a T), or they can be double drilled like a standard bead. Either way the single strands of cord go in one end and come out the other side combined. The cord either terminates in a fancy knot or with a tassel

108 Beads

The next part of the mala we’ll discuss is the 108 beads. The reason behind the 108 beads depends on the tradition in which the mala was made. In the Hindu tradition there are 108 chapters in the Upanishads, there are 108 primary Tantras in the Tantric tradition, Aryuveda recognizes 108 sacred places in the human body, the Sanskrit language has 54 characters in both feminine and masculine form (54 x 2 = 108), and on and on. The numerology folks could probably have a hay day with more but you get the picture.

Marker beads

These are nonessential to the final product but can be helpful in the use of the mala. Generally they will be of a different size or texture so that they can be felt using only the hand and feeling. Generally speaking they are placed at the quarters or every 27 main beads. They can also be used as an accent or in a way to incorporate other stones of meaning to the user. Each stone has a theme or characteristic that it represents. Some can represent purity, longevity, wisdom, different chakras, and, so forth. Just like your meditation practice, feel free to make/find one as unique to you as possible. Just keep in mind the more precious the stone the higher the cost of the finished product. Let’s learn how to use it.

How Do You Use a Mala

First, you’ll find a comfortable place as you would with any other meditation, you’ll grasp your mala in your hand of choice, and, recite the mantra of your choosing, you can say it aloud or to yourself mentally. As you do so you will pass one bead down the string. Continue doing this until you get back to the guru bead, once you’re there turn the mala over and continue back the way you came.

Superstition states you never “cross the guru” or continue in the same direction crossing over the guru bead. This is seen as a buggaboo and if you want to follow the tradition it’s an important little piece of advice. Will ignoring this invoke the wrath of one deity or another probably not, just sayin is all. Once you complete a round of 108, called a “buhm” you can continue on switching the mala back and forth, so as not to cross the guru, as many times as you like.

Some say you have to repeat the mantra 10,000 times or some arbitrarily issued number which are all based on the tradition you follow. Bottom line it’s your practice so it’s your choice. Another tradition some say is for each separate mantra you should use a different a mala. If your looking to start a collection then go for it but again no deity will strike you down for the double dip.

Why should you get one?

This section will be largely subjective because truthfully speaking . Any answer I give here will be largely in my personal opinion. That being said, we’ll dig in. Malas are handy if you are a tactile meditator. Meaning incorporating your sense of touch resonates with you. They can also be used as a reminder to practice or of your dedication to carrying out a more spiritual life. Some have them and keep them as fashion statements and have never used them as a meditation tool. They can be used or kept for their symbolic meanings again all based on the end user’s preference

Sadly, I cannot give you a rock solid reason as to why you need one. If you like them or could use a change in practice they are great but you are none the poorer without one. As far as price goes they can run a huge range from as low as $9 to well north of $100. Again, the price of a mala is determined by the materials used, the knot complexity, and, who the producer. If you don’t think it’s pricey head to a craft store and look at the retail value of a string of quartz beads, they are not cheap!

I know this was nowhere near the sales pitch you thought it could be just a helpful guide for those looking to buy a mala. Enjoy. If you are curious about our malas here is a link to our store.

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