What is a Mala??
A mala is traditionally a tool for mantra meditation. Typically 108 beads, malas can also be found as 54 or 27 beads, one half and one quarter of 108, respectively. The number 108 is very auspicious and there are numerous interesting facts about this number. The sandscrit language has 108 (54 female, 54 male) symbols in it’s alphabet. Even our solar system is connected to the number 108, as the distance from Earth to the Sun is 108x the diameter of the Sun, and distance from Earth to Moon is 108x the diameter of the Moon. There are many other associations with the number 108 from scientific to religious and beyond.
Malas are usually strung on cotton or silk thread, as natural fiber is preferred, although now it is possible to find malas strung on synthetic thread to make them stronger. Many traditions tie knots between each bead, so that even when the thread stretches over time a consistent spacing is kept between each bead. Other traditions do not utilize a knot between beads and simply string the beads on a strand. Often malas made by someone in the Buddhist tradition will not have knots. Most malas will have one additional bead – the guru bead, the 109th bead and many times a tassel is hanging from the guru bead. The tassel symbolizes the petals of a thousand lotus blossom. While all malas are associated with the number 108, some have spacer or marker beads within the mala that are different than the main beads, either in color or shape, and therefore will contain 2-4 additional beads, each with a symbolic meaning.
Using a Mala in Kundalini Yoga Meditation:
(From spiritvoyage.com ) ]
The amazing thing about meditating with a mala is that it combines Naad yoga (the recitation of sacred sounds), acupressure, gemstone therapy and a deep meditative practice.
To use a mala, you hold it in either hand. Starting just after the Guru bead, you recite a mantra while holding each bead between the thumb and one of the fingers, moving from one bead to the next with each recitation. You basically drape the mala over the finger, and use the thumb to pull the beads over the finger toward you after each recitation of the mantra. This makes the bead pass over the intended meridian point. After you have completed a full circle of your mala, you will feel the Guru bead. You can make a special prayer with the Guru bead and then begin again, either switching the hands, turning the mala or just continuing along.
different fingers used in mala meditation:
There are accupressure points on each of the fingers that work on different
parts of the psyche and the brain. When the beads press the meridian
points in the finger, you can work on a specific result. The meridian
point you are trying to activate is located on the side of each finger, in the
center point between the tip of the finger and the upper knuckle. The
properties of the meridian points for each finger are as follows:
– Index Finger (Jupiter Finger): Wisdom. Knowledge.
– Middle Finger (Saturn Finger): Patience.
– Ring Finger (Sun Finger): Health. Vitality.
Strengthen the Nervous System.
– Little Finger (Mercury Finger): Communication.
In the lineage of Kundalini Yoga, there is a strong history of the use of the mala both from the Kundalini teachings and the Sikh faith. Guru Nanak, whose writings are the foundational text of all Kundalini Mantras is almost always depicted with a mala in his hand or around his neck. Guru Ram Das, the teacher whose healing energy is so often called on in Kundalini meditations was also known to be constantly chanting with his mala, and many of the images of him show him with a mala in hand. Yogi Bhajan carried a mala with him all of the time and seemed to always be reciting his meditations as he taught, met with people, and did all the daily tasks in his life.
Here are some links to help you with more info- and places to buy the Mala beads.