"Can't" meditate? Try using a Mala; Here's how!
Malas are for meditating??
I know, right... It seemed certain these beady necklaces were an accessory worn in conjunction with high priced yoga pants to elevate the social perception of your spirituality.
In actuality, they are a tool, used for centuries, in spiritual practices, predominantly in the Buddhist and Hindu culture. The word mala translates to "garland." Often times, called Japa malas; Japa is a repetitive recitation of a mantra. And to round out our definitions for the day... Mantra is an utterance of a word or group of words having beneficial and healing qualities. Talking to yourself can have constructive qualities and if you don't believe me, take it from our boy, Stuart Smalley:
Malas are traditionally constructed of 108 beads and 1 guru bead. The number 108 has various significant spiritual meanings, of which we won't touch upon here (but keep an eye out for future posts).
Seen in this picture, the world bead is serving as the guru bead.
So how does it work? How can a mala help us achieve that esoterically elusive state of blissfulness and peace?
Let's first be honest about understanding that achieving such state, takes much practice, dedication, and a certain amount of surrender.
As in achieving anything, getting started is usually the biggest obstacle.
A mala is a wonderful tool, especially for beginners, to assist in breaking through that intimidating first step.
Here's how to integrate a mala into your meditation practice (OR how to use a mala to integrate yourself into meditating):
1. Find a comfortable, quiet place to sit. Set a mood, if you so desire, by lighting a candle or burning some incense.
2. Think of a mantra. Something positive you want to focus on, bring into your life, let go of, etc. Some examples are: "I am healthy," "I am courageous," "gosh darn-it, people like me!" Whatever inspires you.
3. Meditate. Begin with the bead closest to the guru bead, recite your mantra, out loud or in your mind, move on to the next bead, recite again. Continue to recite your chosen mantra as you pass each bead 108 times until you reach the guru bead on the other side. Stop there or go back reciting your mantra 108 times in the other direction.
YOU DID IT!!! You meditated!
The value added fundamentals of meditating with a mala:
Doing something over and over creates new neural pathways in the brain and reteaches the brain to fire (think) differently. Thanks to neuroplasticity of the brain, you can teach an old brain new tricks! By repeating positive mantras, you're encouraging the brain to default to the positive and rewire old negative thought patterns.
Connecting the action of repeating a mantra with each touch of a new bead, promotes awareness of the present moment and attention to the one task you are doing in that moment. It's easy to get sidetracked (believe me, it took half a day just to write this article) especially when you are repeating the same thing over and over, actually being able to feel the bead in between your fingers, focuses you in on the task at hand.
Crystal vibrations Yup, here we go with the weird stuff. If you've followed me this far and choose to check out now with only the learned knowledge above, I won't be offended. There is science out there backing the vibrational output of natural crystals, gems and minerals from the Earth. There is also what is being referred to as "pseudo-science" connecting these vibrational outputs to healing of the human body. Check out this article on where the power of crystals may be at work in your everyday life.
So there you have it, meditation 101, get to it!!! ;)