What is a japa mala?

A mala is a string of 108 beads with one bead as the guru bead. Mala is a Sanskrit word which means garland and japa recitation. So japa mala can be translated as prayer beads for meditation. Beads are actually a tool to keep the mind focused during the meditation practice.

If you are having a regular and solid meditation practice you probably know already how to use a mala during your meditation. But here are some tips for those of you who want to give a meditation with a mala a try.

The mala is traditionally held in the right hand and used in two ways:

In one method, the mala is hanging on the middle finger, with the thumb rotating the mala – one bead at a time.

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In the other method, the mala is hanging between the thumb and the ring (third) finger. The middle (second) finger is used to rotate the mala by one bead towards oneself with each repetition of the mantra. Either way, the index finger is never used to touch the mala.

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The practice begins at the guru bead and continues around the mala until the guru bead is reached again. If you plan to do more than one round, the mala is turned around to continue again in the reverse direction.

In the beginning the mind can be unrestful and unwilling to focus on the practice but over the time it will get a little bit easier. My experience has been that the mind is much more clear and relaxed even after a short meditation practice, especially when there’s a lot of going on in my life! And being a mom to a one and half year old girl my spiritual endeavor consists mostly of doing the physical asana practice.

I’d love to hear if you are having any spiritual practice and what is your experience of that path!

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