Have you ever seen those beads that spiritually-inclined people tend to wear around their necks? Ever wondered what they’re all about?
Originating in Hindu and Buddhist culture, I first encountered Malas in Thailand and later again during my travels through India. I was aware they were prayer beads, similar to those used in Christianity, yet their deeper meaning escaped me on these trips. It was during Awakened Spirit’s Sacred Earth YTT that I gained a greater understanding of what they were and completely fell head over heels with the practice of using them.
The word Mala itself comes from Sanskrit, meaning garland. Used as an instrument in meditation, each one has a total of 108 beads - which holds high significance in the numerology world. 1 represents the individual, 0 connection to the whole and 8 an infinity loop. The digits add up to a total of 9, known as the number of perfection - the almost completion of the whole. The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth, there are 108 general energy point in the physical body and 108 defining points of the Sri Yantra . (The list goes on!)
Mantra is known as ‘liberation of the mind’, usually in the form of an Ancient chant that has been repeated throughout the years by seekers (although of course, many live by their own motto-mantras too). These are generally sung, voiced, or thought whilst in meditation mode… resulting in a super high frequency being reaffirmed over time. These sound vibrations/electrical impulses align to specific energies (such as Deities or ideals) and have very much instilled themselves in the fabric of the Universe. Tapping into these is one of the simplest and most profound ways I know to connect with that Divine essence we sometimes need to be reminded we are a part of. *Having a little search for some Mantra will bring you amongst some rather heavenly tunes*
Using Malas alongside Mantra allows direct focus of the mind, Dharana, during meditation – something the wandering mind appreciates. It enables us to pray for the Self and for the Whole; sending out calming, peaceful and loving energy. Another powerful part about it: you can infuse any form of mantra into these beads to hold whatever vibration feels most resonant with your heart.
Here’s a few I love, which I incorporate in my practice or otherwise have playing in the background during the day…
Om Mani Padme Hum
‘May the Heart open with Divine Compassion,
May I know myself to be an Awakened Being of Light’
In connection with Kuan Yin, Boddhisatva (enlightened being) who, legend has it, was on her way to Heaven and heard the cries of the suffering still on Earth - so stayed around to offer her help and guidance until all have reached her level.
Om Gum Ganapatayei Namah
‘I pray to Lord Ganesha for blessings and protection’
To Ganesha, elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati, remover of obstacles and helper with challenges along the journey.
Om Maha Kali
‘Honour to Kali, Preserver of Earth’
Saluting Goddess Kali, known as the Dark Mother/Destructive Force, to rid of negative energies, release of the old which no longer serves, encouraging transformation.
There’s no end to the different energies you can invoke – name what you’re aiming for, it exists! Even now, as I'm sat with Bob Marley on the radio, ‘Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing, is gonna be alright’ , has that familiar deep and loving resonance reminiscent of many mantras. Same same but different.
Nowadays I’m rarely without my much-beloved Mala, usually around my wrist. It serves as a tool for me in each moment to check in with myself, tuning into the aspect of Truth I aspire towards.
Om Mani Padme Hum