How to use a Mala

A mala can be used as a tool in your meditation practice, to give you healing energy or you can just wear it as an earthy BoHo accessory and as a constant reminder to yourself to stay present and be mindful in your daily life. It becomes whatever you intend it to be.

By Petra Axlund Stegman

A mala has 108 beads, and this is a sacred number in Hinduism and Buddhism. It is a number of the wholeness of existence. It also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth. And it is said there is 108 energy lines connected to the heart, temples often have 108 steps, we do 108 Sun salutations to honor change such as the passing of a season, or in order to respect, acknowledge and bring peace. The Sanskrit alphabet has 54, each has masculine and feminine (Shiva and Shakti) and 54 times 2 is 108. It is also believed that 108 was given specific meaning because of its relationship to the number 9 (according to Indian scriptures the number 9 corresponds to lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe and 108 divided by 2 is 54 and 5 + 4 is 9. And also 1 + 0 + 8 = 9). The numbers 7, 21, 28 and 54 also have significant meaning in Buddhism and Hinduism. Usually these are marked with marker beads and they are there as reminders during your meditation. If you are so calm in meditation that you only have 108 breaths in a day you will become enlightened. So the number has many meanings, but this is what speaks to me personally:

1 – stands for Higher Power, Truth & The Universe
0 – stands for Completeness & Spiritual Practice
8 – stands for Infinity, Eternity & Timelessness

The Guru Bead is very important because it will hold all your prayers. When you use the mala in your meditation you repeat your mantra or your intention every time you hold a new bead in your hand. After one full round when you reach the Guru Bead, you can either stop or just reverse direction and begin anew. When you are done it is believed that the Guru bead will hold all your prayers. And when you wear the mala you’ll have your prayers, intentions, hopes and dreams close you your heart.

The Tassel represents enlightenment and the energy created from your meditation. It is a symbol of the thousand petals of Sahasrara (The Crown Chakra) and signifies spiritual illumination. As the strands combine together in to one, it represents our connection to the Divine and to each other. It also symbolizes our prana and consciousness.

The Knots between each bead represents the Universal Force that sustains and supports us. The knot represents the Divine link between all beings.

If you want to meditate with your mala, place it in your right hand and hold it over your middle and index fingers. Start at the guru bead (the big bead, stone or symbol hanging at the end) and use your thumb to count each bead by pulling it toward you as you recite your mantra, prayer or intention. I usually make malas with marker beads at number 7 and 21 (also sacred numbers). This is so you know where you are in your meditation and also because I think it makes for a really nice design. When you reach the guru bead you can either stop or just reverse direction and begin anew. The Guru Bead is very important because it will hold all your prayers, and when you wear the mala you’ll have your prayers, intentions, hopes and dreams close to your heart.

When you’re not using or wearing your mala you should keep it in a safe place and treat it with respect. Don’t sleep with it and never try to force your mala over your wrist. I use a strong nylon cord, but if you pull hard or don’t treat it with care it can break. Eventually all malas will need to be re-strung. And just know that if and when your mala breaks it just symbolizes a broken karmic cycle. It’s a sign to bring new intentions into your life as your current ones no longer serve you. If your mala breaks within the first month after shipment, I will restring it for free. After that I will restring your mala for a $35 fee, and pay the shipping to return it to you. Just contact me to get my shipping address.