About Prayer Malas

Why Prayer Malas?

I began using and making Prayer Malas when I was taking a class called Spiritual Practices for Daily Living. It was also a time when I needed to become more focused in my meditation and prayer. I studied various forms of meditation and when I was introduced to mala beads, I felt like a spiritual door had opened and I moved deeper into my own prayer practice. With a prayer mala, one can stay focused in reciting various mantras. The hands are just slightly engaged providing, a place to release energy and allowing the mind to relax.

According to the Ram Dass in his book called Journey of Awakening: A Meditator’s Guidebook, “You pass the beads across your fingers, bead by bead, with each repetition of the mantra. If your mind wanders, the activity of the hand or the touch of the bead will remind you of the mantra. The rhythm becomes more compelling, the experience more total as your body works in harmony with the mind.”

This was so enlightening, so healing for me that I knew that I wanted to make Prayer Malas for others to use. There are many mantras one can recite. One can just repeat the name of a deity or use ancient chants from any number of faith traditions. Affirmations are also good to use as mantras.

Dr. Edward Viljoen, senior minister at the Center for Spiritual Living Santa Rosa, took the words of Ernest Holmes and chanted them as a mantra while using mala beads. The words are: “There is one life, that life is God’s life, that life is perfect, that life is my life now.” For each bead the phrase is repeated and after 108 times (using the full mala), my mind has shifted and the tension of the moment before has disappeared.

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More about Prayer Malas

There are smaller malas (stretchy mala or hand mala) that can be used for shorter mantra sessions or taken with you during your day to use during a break or while walking to your next meeting or appointment.

A Japa mala or mala (Sanskrit: mala, meaning "garland" is a set of beads commonly used by Hindus and Buddhists, usually made from 108 beads, though other numbers, usually divisible by 9, are also used. Malas are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or the name or names of a deity. This practice is known in Sanskrit as japa. The 109th bead on a mala is called the sumeru, bindu, stupa, or guru bead. Counting should always begin with a bead next to the sumeru. In the Hindu, Vedic tradition, if more than one mala of repetitions is to be done, one changes directions when reaching the sumeru rather than crossing it. There are numerous explanations why there are 108 beads, with the number 108 bearing special religious significance in a number of Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

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