I’ve always been intrigued by Mala Beads, wherever I’ve come across them – be it at an ashram where they were used for ceremonies, carried around by swamis, or sold at the ashram shop (yes, ashrams have shops…) – or quite simply on Instagram where they seem to have found another popular use: as a fashion accessory.
And let’s be honest, which other item can both assist you in furthering your spiritual practice and can serve to enhance your outfit? Exactly.
What I found confusing though is the number of different types of beads, and then there are the brown, shrivelled ones – I always thought they’re some kind of stone (just like the others) but they’re not, they’re actually seeds from a tree!
The more I started reading about Mala Beads, the more I found them fascinating – so I decided to put together a “Mala Beads 101”:
So, what’s a Mala exactly?
Mala Beads are used in meditation and prayer. The beads help keeping count on the repetition of your mantra (a sacred word, sound or sentence repeated during meditation) – you simply pass one through your fingers each time you recite your mantra. The whole process is called ‘Japa Meditation’.
How do I hold my Mala?
Hold your Mala in your hand and turn each bead with your thumb. When you reach the “Guru Bead”, the bigger one that dangles from the Mala, you pause (reflect…) and then return. You are not supposed to pass the “Guru Bead” but rather change direction and start again.
How do I choose my Mala?
That’s a tricky one because you first need to take a moment to reflect on your life and what you want to manifest. Health? Love? Balance? Then go on and choose the gemstones that are said to have these properties and healing aspects. It’s tough because there are so many beautiful Malas and so many gorgeous gemstones that once you start looking the choice can be quite overwhelming!
What are the brown, shrivelled stones in between the gemstones?
They’re actually not stones but are called “Rudraksha seeds” and they’re indeed quite rare! They grow in a blueberry-like fruit on trees in South East Asia and India. The seeds are believed to carry energies of grounding, increased awareness, lower blood pressure and help free from negative thoughts (and who wouldn’t want that to happen!?)
What should they be combined with?
Rudraksha seeds are mostly combined with gemstones such as turquoise (protecting on a journey – be it a physical or emotional one) or amazonite which promotes the release of fear and encourage you to follow your dreams.
How about the other brown seeds, the ones that are a lot smaller?
They are called “Rudrani seeds” – wearing Rudrani and Rudraksha seeds together means combining the auspicious energies of the Shiva/Shakti – these energies help harmonise the feminine and masculine within the individual. However, they’re not suited for Japa due to their size.
Where do I get my Mala Beads?
There are countless options if you feel like shopping for your Mala, personally I love the MALA COLLECTIVE. They have a huge number of Malas to choose from, provide fair trade jobs in Bali and their employees benefit from profit shares; they also donate parts of the profits to ‘Bumi Sehat’, a local birthing centre. The jewellery is sustainably harvested, cleansed, blessed and hand-knotted between each seed and stone before leaving Bali. If your Mala breaks you can send it back to them once for repair (however, if it breaks it’s also considered a sign that you no longer “need” that intention and it’s time to move on…)
What’s your experience with Mala Beads? Do you own some? How do they enhance your mediation?