Whether you’re just starting a meditation practice, or you're an advanced practitioner, Mala beads are a great tool to help focus your attention.
They provide something tactile to come back to when your mind starts to wander. (Which happens to everyone!)
Rolling the beads through your fingers is a physical way to direct your energy and attention. It’s a gentle reminder every few seconds to reground and refocus.
Here are some simple ‘how to’ steps for incorporating Mala Beads into your meditation practice:
- If this is your first time using a Mala, start by holding it out in front of you so we can look at the anatomy. (Read: Anatomy of a Mala) The tassel represents an end point — signifying you’ve gone all the way around the Mala for a full cycle of meditation. Between the tassel and necklace loop, there is one single bead, called the guru bead. There are 108 beads in the necklace loop. (Read: Why 108?)
- Now, start with the necklace in your dominant hand, tassel facing towards you
- Start with the bead to the right of the guru bead
- Begin turning each bead individually in your fingers, making your way slowly to the next bead
- When turning the beads, try not to use the index finger as that is believed to represent the ego.
- Try using your thumb to turn the beads. You can use your thumb nail to pull the bead towards you. Or you can use your thumb to rotate the bead by turning it and moving to the next.
- You will notice there is hand knotting between each bead, this is meant to help ease the practice of moving from bead to bead.
Do you feel have the hang of it? If so, let’s try layering in breathe.
- On each bead, take a deep inhale and exhale. Then move to the next bead. Deep inhale and exhale.
Once you have the breathing down, you can layer in mantra. (Read: What’s your mantra?)
- On each bead, along with your breath, try silently repeating your mantra to yourself
- For the sake of this, we will use an affirmation based mantra, which is an “I Am statement”
- On each bead, inhale “I Am” and exhale a word that embodies how you want to feel in that moment. It can be abundant, strong, patient, intuitive, etc. (For more on choosing your word, read: I Am Enough — Why Affirmations are so powerful)
- Inhale “I Am” and exhale your word on each bead
- You can also simply use one word such as grounded, or love
- Once you have made it around 108 beads, you will reach the guru bead
- The guru bead signifies a moment to pause and sit in reflection. Here, you can thank and honor your guru, your mantra, and yourself for taking the time to sit in stillness.
Congrats! This signifies a full practice!
- If you want to keep meditating, rather than continuing over the guru bead, it is advised to turn back in the direction you just came.
What did you notice in this practice? What came up for you?
One thing is guaranteed — your mind will wander. When it does, simply return to the beads.
When your mind wanders, you have the choice to judge yourself and think things like “I’m the worst meditator, I’m never going to get the hang of this.” These things only keep you in a place of self judgement.
Or, you can acknowledge you’ve had some thoughts, let them go, and return your focus to your Mala beads, your breath and your mantra.
You’ll be challenged consistently in your practice with a wandering mind. It doesn’t mean your a bad meditator — it just means you're human.
Meditation isn’t about eliminating the thoughts. Rather, it's about creating space between them, allowing yourself the room to connect to your higher self.
Your mala is a tactile guide on that journey. But remember, it’s a practice. There will be hard days and easy days. Make a choice at the beginning of each practice to not judge yourself when your mind wanders. Instead, treat yourself with patience, grace, and love — as you would anyone else.