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How to Use Malas to Enhance Your Meditation Experience

How to Use Malas

Do you meditate? If not, don’t run away just yet! In my post on mental wellness and meditation I share about the benefits of meditation plus a super easy way to get started (literally sit with your eyes closed and breathe).

Sometimes it can feel incredibly challenging to just sit and meditate. Trust me, I get it. I live in the city and have a go-go-go lifestyle, rushing from one thing and one place to the next. It can be helpful to have tools to help you get in the mindset to be still in body and mind. This is why I love guided meditations! They walk you through it and give your mind something to focus on. It’s easier to follow directions than remember to bring your focus back to your breath on your own (at first). I also love using malas while I meditate. Malas can help you focus on your intention, breath and mantras. Think of them as a physical tool to help deepen your meditation experience.

Malas and Meditation

It’s super helpful to make meditation a part of your routine. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, on the train or before you go to sleep, when you make meditation a part of your day, you’re less likely to skip it. I used to have a regular meditation practice in the morning but slipped out of it and found myself sleeping in and then waking up with no time to do anything except rush around and get ready for work. Meditation became sporadic for me. Time to get meditation back in my daily routine!

Here are my 3 tips for getting started with meditation:

  • Begin with just a few minutes at a time and slowly work your way up to more time
  • Use guided meditations to help focus your mind
  • Meditate with malas to reinforce your intention
  • Make meditation a part of your routine

Wearing Mala Necklace in Meditation Space

What are Malas?

So where do malas come into meditation? Malas are special tools for meditation and symbols of mindfulness and gratitude. They are 108-bead strings that are used for counting breaths, mantras or prayers. They originated in India 3,000 years ago and were first used by Hindu and Buddhist people and yogis.

I acknowledge that I am a white person talking about something with Eastern roots. I understand that malas are sacred and meaningful. I respect my malas, what they mean and their history. Malas are used by people all over the world for a variety of purposes and it’s important to understand their origin.

Malas on Meditation Cushion

How to Use Malas during Meditation

Malas serve as a physical tool for counting. Are you reciting a mantra? Use the beads to keep track. Are you focusing on your breath? Take one deep breath in and one deep breath out for every bead. Malas have 108 beads plus a guru bead and a tassel (which attaches to the guru bead). When using malas for counting, start with the first bead next to the guru bead, holding it between your fingers. Make your way around the mala, one bed at a time, until you get back to the guru bead.

I asked my Instagram followers if they use malas and was happy to connect with people and learn about how they use malas. One follower, Krishna, shared that she used malas during Hindu prayer and worship when she was little and has transitioned to using them during meditation as an adult. “Malas help me relax and quiet my mind during meditation and help me maintain focus. I generally meditate when I’m feeling anxious or stressed, so malas help me keep track of my deep breath counts while meditating. With every breath I take, I roll one bead of the mala over my finger. Without malas it’s so easy to lose focus during meditation,” Krishna said. She shared her favorite mantra to recite with her malas, “Every day in every way, I am getting better and better.”

Krishna said that her parents use malas to complete mantra chants. Her mom does it as a midday break and her dad does them on his daily train commute. She adds, “Malas are also used to keep track of mantras recited during a communal worship or pooja, when people are gathered around the sacred fire and make offerings to the fire at the end of every mantra.”

A fellow RDN, Samina, shared that she uses malas or tasbeehs during prayers and when she spends extra time in worship. “They are used in Islam and Muslim culture to help keep count while reciting prayers. I grew up sitting on the prayer rug (aka janemaz) reciting prayers with my family and thanking God for all the blessings we have,” she said.

“Growing up my mother kept tasbeehs around the house and our prayer area so I always had access to them. I remember all the beautiful varieties of gemstones, colors and textures the tasbeehs had. In our culture, it is common to receive tasbeehs as presents and I’ve collected so many beautiful prayer beads that help me remember the goodness of God and bring perspective into my life,” Samina shared. She said that every time she sees necklaces or jewelry that look like tasbeehs, she smiles to herself and feels grateful for everything she has.

Malas have rich religious roots but you don’t have to be religious to use or appreciate malas. I use malas for mindfulness, counting breaths and mantras, and setting intentions. I love the guided meditations that Mala Collective sends whenever you purchase one of their mala necklaces or bracelets. It’s a great way to connect with the intention of your mala and use it to its fullest extent.

Setting Intentions with Malas

I like wearing mala necklaces and bracelets all day long to help me come back to mindfulness and my intentions. Traditional malas are make with rudraksha, which are sacred seeds. You also can find malas whose beads are made of gemstones. Depending on the stone, the mala carries a specific meaning. I love wearing my “I Am Supported” mala and remembering everyone who loves and cares about me. My “I Am Audacious” mala brings me confidence while my “I Am Intuitive” mala reinforces my inner wisdom and body trust. You can also set any intention you want for your mala.

For my sister’s birthday, I got her the “I Am Love” mala. Before I gave it to her, I meditated with it and channeled lots of positive, supportive, loving, confident energy into it. I like to think of it as a way she can carry me with her even when I’m not physically there.

I also like journaling with my malas and getting mindful about their meanings. For instance, consider the “I Am Patient” mala. Could you use a little more patience in your life? Meditate with the mala and journal about your intention. Use the “I Am Grounded” mala when you’re feeling anxious and the “I Am Strong” mala when you’re feeling weak.

Journaling on Mala Intentions

Now that you have lots of ideas on how to use malas, are you considering getting one? I love that Mala Collective’s seeds and stones are sustainably sourced and the necklaces and bracelets are ethically made. If you’re interested in purchasing from Mala Collective, click this link and use code TAYLORXMALA for 20% off!

I am an affiliate with Mala Collective which means whenever you use my link to make a purchase, I get a small kick-back. I love sharing products I use in real life and providing discounts for my community. No pressure to purchase, ever.

I Am Intuitive Mala on Meditation Altar

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