Hi Kim! Nikki uses mala beads a lot in her 21-Day Meditation Challenge. Also , Julia in the Bhakti Show , uses the mala in her japa practices this meditation. Perhaps Annie will mention how she is using them in her personal practice. Generally, they are used to keep count of a mantra chant. Love, Kira
Hi Kim, thanks so much for asking about the mala! You may know that the word mala in Sanskrit means "garland," like a ring of flowers a child might create, and I like to think of it as symbolic of the cyclical nature of life. As Kira mentioned, it's traditionally used as a tool to aid in mantra, and each string traditionally has 108 beads (in yoga circles, 108 is considered to be an auspicious number). My go-to practice each morning begins with sitting quietly with my mala, and chanting silently a personal mantra that has 9 lines, which I repeat 12 times, as I feed the mala one bead at a time through my thumb and forefinger. You may notice the larger bead at the tip of the mala -- this is often referred to as the guru bead. When I get to the end of the 108 lines of chant, I will hold the guru bead for a while in meditation. (see more in the next post...)
(continued from above) ....Often, I will experience a sense that the entire string has been "charged" with heightened, clear energy, and it helps to settle me in to meditation, as well as set a nice tone for my day, and I wear the mala all day either on my wrist or around my neck as a reminder. You'll sometimes hear people suggest that a mantra must be given to them by a teacher, and that can certainly be helpful. My own mantra is a string of phrases (in English) that came to me while I was on retreat many years ago, in a moment that felt like insight had arrived, and I've used it ever since. I hope that helps and inspires you! Sending love!