If you are into yoga at all, you may have heard of or seen an item used in meditation called a Mala. I am no expert but here is what I have learned. It’s a collection of beads (either 21, 27 or 108 and a Guru bead) used to help keep focus during meditation by keeping count during the recitation of mantras. In addition, depending on the type of beads used, Malas have the added benefit of energy work (semi precious/gemstones/shells/rocks) or color therapy (glass). Typically, you skip the guru bead when beginning your meditations, say a final prayer on the guru when make it all the way round and go the opposite direction when you resume your work. If you need to pause or know you aren’t going to do the full round, stopping at 27 or 54 is a good way to do it, then you’d just pick up at the next bead and continue forward when next you practice.
So how does one choose a Mala? Well there are really three ways you can go about doing this 1) look at a bunch of them and select one that calls out to you 2) identify specific issues you are having and wish to address and choose one that meets those or 3) create your own (either actually homemade or custom made by someone else). The basic premise is that if you truly give yourself over to the process of selecting one premade, the right one will call out to you. But how does one really give themselves over? And how do you know that you didn’t just pick something because it’s pretty? Well, in answer to the second, you don’t, not really. There isn’t anything wrong with that IMO because you might find that something you picked because you just thought it was pretty actually turned out to have deeper qualities in the stones. To give yourself over, I recommend ignoring the name and just looking at the picture. Scan them quickly and notice any that grab your attention, any that you may want to go back to more than once. THEN look at the name and the description of the stones to weed it down further.
I use this same basic premise when making my own. I went through my own stash of beads at home and selected the two guru beads that called out to me: a lava bead and a cowrie shell. Then I went to a hobby store and looked through their beads to see what I might want to use for the rest of it. I stood in front of the beads for A LONG TIME and touched any that called out to me. I pulled several varieties and held them in my hands lined up next to one another like this
and then I would research each bead on the internet to see why it called out to me. If you do a simple google search on the type of bead + meaning or mala meaning you’ll get many links directing you to what that specific stone is used for in meditation or crystal work. Some of the results will even boil a specific stone down based on your Astrological sign, like Turquoise being the stone for Capricorn (which I am).
Putting the Mala together is a combination of aesthetics and stone properties. I try to make sure that the piece feels balanced to me. I also find that I like using all stones versus the traditional seed + stone or wood + stone varieties. It makes them less wearable (they are much longer due to the larger stone size) but I prefer the heavier weight for focusing and the cool sensation in my hands.
Sprog helped me design this grid layout when I made my first one
and I found it so helpful I used it for the second one
Now, some people may have only one, but I like having specific needs addressed and knowing that I can reach for the energy I need to match what I have going on in my life.
When I use my beads
I pull from meditations I have done in my Chakra class, one of the easiest to get into the practice is So Hum which translates to “I Am That” or “I Am All That Is”. On your inhale you think the word So. On your exhale you think the word Hum. Or you can think the translations: inhale-I Am, exhale-That or All That Is. Doing this meditation while counting means that each bead would be an inhale or an exhale. Take your time and go slowly. You don’t want to rush your breath so you end up hyperventilating. Nice slow measured breathing and thoughts.
Your meditation could be simpler still, one word, the word of the Chakra you need to work like saying Om. Or your meditation could involve a personal mantra/affirmation. What mantra/affirmation gives you peace or applies to your life right now? Do you need to heal? “I am healing everyday” Do you need strength? “I am stronger everyday” Do you need calm? “I breathe calm into myself” Do you need clarity? “I see things more clearly every day” Do you need comfort? “I unburden my soul everyday” Do you need balance? “I am supported by the ground underneath me” Do you need compassion? “I accept the things I cannot change with grace”. Each bead would be the entire saying.
The point of meditation is to give your mind and body a connection point, a break from the craziness of schedules, menus, bills, arguments, tantrums and a focus. It doesn’t have to be any one thing. There is no right or wrong, really, only what is right or wrong for you. And if you find your mind wandering, the beads between your fingers are a grounding point that pulls you back.
There are different connections for specific fingers but again, I say do whatever feels most comfortable to you, unless you are on the path for becoming a practicing monk, then of course you would want to do your meditation correctly using only blessed beads.
Oh and before I forget, if you ever get a funky feeling from your stones, like handling them makes you feel off or bad in anyway? There is likely some residual bad energy there, you can clear your stones by soaking them in salt. You want to try to only handle your stones when you aren’t filled with rage or sorrow, so if you are feeling like that (and really that’s when a lot of us need time on the mat the most) try taking a few deep cleansing breaths before you even take them in your hands.
I hope this helped, if you have questions, please ask, I’ll do my best to get you answers. I’m going to be attending a full 7 week Chakra workshop complete with book work and I’m sure that will add a lot to my knowledge.