21-Day Meditation Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 25

Day 13: Mala Meditation

20 min - Practice


We add the use of a mala, or prayer beads, as a new technique for our meditation practice. Please make sure you have a mala on hand for today's practice. How did this new technique work for you? Let us know in the comments.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video


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Okay, so here we are for meditation number 13. I'm adding in something new today, and that's the use of a mala. So I have to say that when I began using a mala, at first it was really awkward. I was so trained in initially breath observation and breathing techniques, some of what I've taught you. And then I began to use mantra, and that was challenging, but it was really challenging to move to a mala.

So some of you might experience that, some of you may not, but it is a very important way of practicing mantra meditation, and it's called japa, repeating a mantra with mala beads. And so I want you to give it a try. So I will guide us through the initial entry. We are going to go back to so hum, but then we're going to literally use the mala. So you're going to hold the mala, and with your first and second finger, you're holding the bead, and then your thumb is helping to guide it.

So you begin the mantra, so we're using so hum, so in your mind, so hum, and then you move and so hum, and then you move and so hum. So it literally just helps you keep track as you go all the way around, 108 beads. Depending on the length of the mantra, that will determine how long it takes you to get all the way around. Our mantra right now is very simple and short, so we'll move around it quickly. So within this meditation, you may move all the way around the mala several times.

If you don't have one or you don't wish to use it, no problem, you'll simply be repeating the mantra in your mind as we've done before. Okay, so let's begin. Just go ahead and have the mala in your hand if you've got one, and then close your eyes. Take any required adjustments in your lower half, set yourself up so you feel balanced in the sitting bones, and as usual, thighs, knees, feet comfortable. Aligning the pelvis so that you're not tipping too far forward, nor rolling backwards, but instead centered.

And then from there, spine rises tall, putting everything in its place, shoulders, chin parallel with the floor so the neck is balanced, and relaxing. So not sinking, but definitely relaxing. And then observing what's happening internally. So depending on when you're doing this practice, especially if it's a practice later in the day or after activity, it's really, really helpful to check in, and how am I right now? What's happening inside right now?

And then that sense of ease and space around whatever it is you discover, whatever your current state is. And then let's have a moment, as we've done so many times, to observe and pay attention to breathing. So another way of checking in, it's also creating that mental focus. And then as we've done before, we're going to turn to the mantra, so hum, I am that, except now we're going to have the physical process of moving along the mala. So coming to that first bead, holding that bead with your first two fingers and your thumb, you're going to begin, mind's eye, so hum, and moving to the next, so hum, so hum.

So you're going to keep going, you're going to drop into silence, but you're moving along, so hum. And the sense of moving slowly, and pausing, and remember feeling tone. Feeling tone is important in really connecting with the energy of the mantra. So hum. Are we ready?

So in a way, moving around the mala, it's almost like anchoring to your breath. Instead of linking the mantra with your breathing, you're linking it with each mala bead. You're linking it with each mala bead. You're linking it with each mala bead. Just keep gently moving, so hum, so hum.

You're linking it with each mala bead. Thank you. And even if it feels a little bit cumbersome or a little bit awkward, just keep going. You may have to readjust the mala. So hum.

So hum. Get too caught up in how it's going, but just moving with each bead, that inner sound. So hum. So hum. And you're going to probably come to the end of the first round.

And because we have a very short mantra, just keep going. It can eventually become a practice in and of itself to do a set number of repetitions around the mala. Rather than 20 minutes sit, it's 10 times around the mala. Or two times around the mala. So hum.

If you catch yourself speeding up a bit, slow down. Have a sense of pause each time you touch the next bead. And keep going around. Also remember your posture. Continue to sit nice and tall.

Tension is building up anywhere in your body. Remind yourself, relax. So hum. Fingers moving along the beads. So hum.

So hum. So hum. So hum. And if you're coming to the end of the second cycle around, simply keep going one bead at a time, so hum, so hum, so hum. Just keep making your way very, very slowly, last few minutes around the mala.

If you're not using a mala in your mind, so hum, so hum. So hum. So hum. Reminding you again to pay attention to the physical, especially now that you're literally doing something with one hand. Be sure you're still sitting tall, you haven't collapsed.

Any accumulation of tension or holding, remind yourself to let it go. And just continue last minute or so. Move around your mala, so hum. So hum. Okay, let's release the technique.

Gently release your mala, pausing as we do, paying attention. This was different. This was in some ways maybe a little bit more active. So pay attention to the effects of this particular meditation. Now let's close it, palms together, namaste.

So I'm really curious now how this new technique is, was for you. I know for myself it was a big leap to go from just seated meditation, a technique in my mind, to actually using something. And it honestly probably took me a month to get really, really comfortable. And now it actually feels second nature and it feels like something's missing when I don't have my mala. So let me know.

Take some time, thumbs up, thumbs down, was easy, was hard. Take some time to post a comment or question. Thank you.


Curtis Hamilton
I loved this meditation experience. I liked the mala and the mantra together. It felt like this is the way I want to meditate from now on. The last time I meditated in the previous challenge, I was aware of my heart beat during part of the challenge. But this time I was very aware the whole time from beginning to end. It was not a distraction but I could feel the pulse on the left side of my body. In yoga classes I have been asked to feel my heartbeat and never could. But during this challenge I am starting to feel it for some reason. Now that I am finished meditating, I no longer feel it.
Kira Sloane
Curtis, I love following your experience with the meditation. Thank you!
Nikki Estrada
Curtis yes keep the comments coming- i love following along with you too!
Jenny S
1 person likes this.
📿 = 👍! Love using a mala...the 20 minutes seemed to fly by and now I'm feeling very relaxed...
Sarah F
3 people like this.
Thanks for this session! I have a quick question- is the mantra matched with each breath? It seems to take me the entire 20 minutes to go once through my mala beads. Just curious about this.
Nikki Estrada
Sarah no- you dont have to match the mantra with the breath, just breathe normal breath and focus on the mantra bead to bead!
Sarah F
Cool- thanks!
Sarah F
1 person likes this.
Cool- thanks!
Debra D
2 people like this.
Dear Nikki - this session was a great lesson for me about prejudice. Some years ago when I was beginning to learn meditation techniques, I decided that I *disliked* using a mala and so did not persist with it enough to become comfortable with it. I did keep the mala though and used it again this morning. It felt a little awkward physically and yet I experienced a deep meditation and, at the end, a feeling of prana moving around in my chest. I think the combination of breath, mantra PLUS the addition of concentrating on moving along the beads really worked to focus my mind. And I thought with a wry smile, well what do you know? I had rejected something that actually works for me... 📿✨
Nikki Estrada
Debra I had a similar experience- the mala always seemed so cumbersome to me, but when I finally committed to it and gave it some time- I loved it!
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