Spiritual Energy and Meaning Behind the Mala
Malas, also called Japa Mala, and known as Buddhist or Tibetan prayer beads, are a traditional meditation tool used to count the number of times a mantra is recited, breaths while meditating, etc. The traditional Mala has 108 beads plus one Guru bead, but malas also commonly come in lengths of 81, 54, 27, and 19 beads, with an additional Guru bead and/or pendant. Marker beads are also sometimes used to mark sections of the mala, often in groups of nine. A decorative tassel is sometimes attached to the beads, or it may be flanked by talismans or amulets. A mala may be worn as a necklace or wrapped bracelet.
The number 108 has held a multi-dimensional meaning throughout history and has been a sacred number in many world religions for thousands of years. Here is some interesting info about the energetic significance of that sacred number:
In Vedic astrology there are 12 solar houses and 9 lunar houses, 9x12=108.
The diameter of the sun (864,337.3 mi) is about 108 times the diameter of the Earth (7,917.5 mi).
The average distance between the Sun and the Earth (93 billion miles) is 108 times the sun's diameter (864,337.3 mi).
A Hindu theory states that 1 stands for God, the universe or your own highest truth; 0 stands for emptiness and humility in spiritual practice; 8 stands for infinity and timelessness of the soul.
In many Eastern religions, yoga, and dharmic practices, this sacred number 108 refers to spiritual completion and represents the whole of existence. This belief is why japa malas are composed of 108 beads, why pranayama is often completed in cycles of 108, and why sun salutations are often performed in nine rounds of the 12 postures (totaling 108). By practicing chanting, breath work, or asana in rounds of this sacred number, the ancient spiritualists believed we could align ourselves with the rhythm of creation, and ultimately bring an end to our cycle of reincarnation.
When we start to drill down into our human form we continue to find the number 108 over and over again. Much more than just beautiful adornment, Malas are powerful and symbolic tools for meditation and personal growth. Malas offer the wearer a reflection of something in their own journey.
How to Use Mala Beads for Meditation
Choose a quiet place and sit comfortable with your spine straight and your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths to center and align yourself with your intention.
If you have one, use a mantra for this practice, chanting aloud or silently.
Hold your mala in your right hand, draped between your middle and index fingers. Starting at the guru bead, use your thumb to count each smaller bead, pulling it toward you as you recite your mantra. Do this 108 times, traveling around the mala, until you once again reach the guru bead.
If you want to continue the meditation, instead of passing over the guru bead, simply reverse direction and begin again. If your mala has additional marker beads, they may be used to take a deep breath, a moment of awareness, or whatever resonates with you at that time.
8 Transformational Meditation Mantras
Mantras have been used to quiet the mind, experience inner stillness, and promote self-awareness and development for thousands of years. Mantras are immensely powerful in their ability to raise our consciousness as they are imbued with centuries of spiritual meaning and sacred energy, making them powerful energetic tools. We all have different desires and needs, which is why it’s important to choose a mantra that resonates with you on a deeper personal level. That said, there is no pressure in choosing a mantra, as there is no wrong choice. In fact, you may want to use a mantra of your own. Here are some beautiful options you may wish to explore.
“Om” is said to be the first sound and the birth of all other sounds. Essentially, it is the sound of infinity. It is said to vibrate at the universal healing frequency of 432 hz.
OM MANI PADME HUM
This mantra is used by Tibetan Buddhists and is said to contain all of Buddha’s principles in summarized form. The chant translates to “Hail the Jewel in the Lotus” and has also been interpreted to mean:
OM- This sound purifies pride
MA- Purifies jealousy and the need for stimulation
NI- Purifies passion and desire
PAD- Purifies ignorance and prejudice
ME- Purifies possessiveness
HUM- Purifies hatred
LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU
This Hindu prayer opens the heart, bringing awareness to our deep connection with all life and translates to ‘May all beings be happy. May all my thoughts, words, and actions contribute in some way to the happiness of all beings’.
ELOHIM / HAMSA / SATNAM / TAO / SHIVA / RAM
Chanting the Name of God/Consciousness/Source is a powerful meditation mantra. Choose a name that resonates with you most, repeat the name in your mind, or out loud, let the vibration it holds move through you, infusing your mind, heart, & soul with the meaning, power, & energy it carries.
HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA, KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE, HARE RAMA HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA HARE HARE
This matra was popularized by the Hare Krishna movement and is a form of transcendental vibration that is said to expand our consciousness by repeating the three names of Supreme Being: Hare, Krishna, and Rama. Repeatedly chanted, this mantra helps us achieve a state of Krishna Consciousness or ‘purity of being’.
This ancient Hawaiian word is pronounced Ho-oh-po-no-po-no. You may wish to repeat the word Ho’oponopono or its literal translation, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you” as a mantra. Repeatedly using this mantra, especially with focusing your energy and intention toward any person or relationship you are struggling with, can provide a tremendous amount of healing for you, as well as the other person.
The Sanskrit mantra Ham-Sa (pronounced ‘hahm – sah’), translates to ‘I Am That’. This mantra reaffirms our conscious presence and infinite state of Being. Do this mantra by inhaling on ‘Ham’, reaffirming your ‘I Am Presence’, and exhaling on ‘Sa’, which bridges the gap between self and other, creating oneness.
CREATE YOUR OWN SACRED MANTRA
When it comes to choosing a mantra, it’s truly about what resonates with you most. So if it’s not a three thousand year old Sanskrit mantra, that’s ok! You can use any word, from any language, as it’s your energy and intention that give that word or phrase deeper meaning to you. A good rule when creating your own mantra is to Keep It Simple. Either a single word or a short phrase. My own personal mantras, such as ‘I Am Love’, ‘I Am Light’, ‘I inhale Love and Light, I exhale fear and negative energy’, are simple and yet when repeated give me a deep feeling of tranquility and connection to my higher self. Allow yourself time to connect with your mantra and its energy through repeating it over and over. Typically, mantras must be repeated hundreds or even thousands of times for their deeper effects to manifest. Start by giving yourself time each day to dedicate to your mantra meditation practice. Even just 20-30 minutes a day can have a transformational effect on your life when done with consistency.