Meditation with a Mala

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I have read many methods of using a Mala for meditation, but I’d like to share you mine. A Mala is a beaded necklace, or bracelet, that is used for prayers in various faiths. A rosary is a similar device used in Catholicism. The one I use has 108 beads, which is a significant number to many. Other forms are divisions of half or a quarter of that number. For instance, a mala bracelet may have 27 beads, or one-quarter of 108. There is often a head bead that has a tassel or other design that lets you know when you reach the end.

The method I use for meditation usually ends after yoga practice of opening stretches allowing you to find a better seat, or asana. I may use blocks or a Zafu/Zabutan cushion to sit on. I may light a candle or find a place that is serene. It may be a boat dock or someplace that is private and quiet. I wear enough clothes to keep a comfortable temperature.

I will sit cross-legged in Siddhasana, but you may choose Sukhasana, Lotus, or half Lotus. My spine is erect and my hands are open in front of my knees. I keep my head balanced on my shoulders with eyes closed. I take the Mala in the peace fingers of my right hand. I find the notch next to the head bead. Then I begin my breathing, or pranayama. If I rate the sound of my Ujjiya breath from 1 to 10 with 10 being the loudest, I’ll take maybe 1-3 level for meditation.

Now, I focus on an intention. It may be a specific word or short phrase, or mantra. It could be the word “peace” or “love”. Or it may be a self-affirmation, like “do well today” or “be in the present”. My breath is continuous except at the bottom where there is a natural respiratory pause. In that pause, I silently state my intention to myself. Only, I must have complete focus on that intention in order to advance to the next bead. If my mind wanders, I don’t move forward. If I have time, I’ll go through the entire 108 beads. Other days, it may be half or a quarter of the beads. Whatever I do, I make sure I end on the head bead. I don’t want to have to open my eyes to see how far I’ve gone.

It is such an incredibly satisfying and grounding practice to meditate. My other favorite method if I am in a class, at the end of a weightlifting workout, or if I’m out on a run is to sit in vajrasana (thunderbolt pose). I place my hands in my lap in dhyana mudra. In this method, I’ll focus on my breath with my eyes closed, but focused on the tip of my nose. Then I’ll imagine colors, cool blue air as I inhale, and red hot air as I exhale. It is so refreshing. Try meditation and find the peace you’ve been looking for.

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