What is a Mala?

The word “mala” means “heavenly garland”. Strings of mala beads have been used for centuries as an aid in meditation and/or prayer by people of different faiths. Today, mala beads have become very popular with people from all different backgrounds who practice all different faiths and religions.  How you use your mala is completely up to you. You can use it in meditation or prayer, or simply wear it as a beautiful necklace or wrap bracelet to remind you to live according to your intentions.

The mala beads that we make traditionally have 108 beads with 1 additional, usually larger “guru” bead. The guru bead is the “teacher” bead and it provides a guiding energy to the other 108 beads used in the mala. If used for meditation, a mantra is repeated each time your fingers move along the 108 beads. When you reach the guru bead, if you’re not ready to complete your meditation session, you switch directions and continue your meditation going in the opposite direction, never crossing over the guru bead. Tassels are traditionally attached to the guru bead of the mala and the tassel represents the flow of energy. The energy of the beads in the mala, and the intentions made with each knot tied, flowing to and through the wearer of the mala out into the world.

We are often asked why malas traditionally have 108 beads, and from what we can tell there are many different theories about this. Some say that it is because the Sanskrit alphabet contains 54 letters with a masculine and feminine form of each one. Others say that it represents the 108 chakra energy lines connecting to the heart.  When Madi teaches our workshops, she explains that it takes 100 times of repeating a mantra before it takes root within you – and the extra 8 times are for the “mess-ups”.

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