How To Use Japa Mala Beads for Meditating
Using Japa Mala beads is a great way to get started meditating.
Japa = Recitation (mantra or chant)
Mala = Set of Beads
Using mantras help to calm the mind, experience deeper awareness and discover your true nature.
Here are some guidelines to get started with.
1- Get a set of Japa Mala beads; a bracelet, a necklace, or a set that can be either one.
Make sure the bead count is: 27, 54 or 108. You will chant your mantra 108 times, no matter what size your mala. If you have a 27 bead bracelet mala, you will go around 4 times. If you have a 54 bead mala, you will go around twice.
Note: There are many reasons given for using 108, but Regardless of the meaning of 108, it is important that if a mala is used to count mantras, the mantra be given sincerity, devotion, feeling, and full attention.
You will use the beads to count your mantras so you don’t have to count. Instead, you will have a centering thought around your mantra.
2- Choose a mantra.
When selecting a mantra, be clear on what your intention is, and use your intuition over your intellect. You may want to try out each mantra for a few repetitions to see how it feels to you and choose the one that feels like it fits best for you.
The way I choose a mantra depends on what I wish to empower into my set of beads. If I would like to empower a set of beads for helping my in my healing meditations, I may choose the mantra: Om Shri Dhanvantre Namaha.
I like the sound of the Sanskrit words, but you can use any language you wish.
“The potency of the mantra is accentuated according to the degree of concentration held while chanting.”
3- Get comfortable.
Sit in a comfortable position, with the eyes closed, and repeat the mantra silently or aloud. Keep your mind focused on the mantra, let go of all thoughts and breath slowly and deeply.
Hold your mala in your right hand and use your thumb to “count” each mantra by touching the bead during the recitation and then lightly pulling the bead towards you on completion and moving to the next bead. The index finger is extended and should not touch the mala. The large meru (mountain) bead should not be counted as it is used as a starting and ending point of the recitation. If you have a wrist mala of 27 beads you will need to repeat this 3 more times for a total of 4 times around, equaling 108. Continue by pulling the beads until you end at the meru and continue until you have done 108 repetitions.
4- Deep Meditation.
After finishing 108 repititions, you may set the mala down, and let your mantra go.
Clear your mind, and let everything and every thought go.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is to imagine looking at a blank or black screen. Bring the blank screen in so that is all there is, and just look. Just observe. When thoughts come up, thank them, explain you’ll get back to them later, and let them go.
Spend as long as 20 minutes or as little as 5 minutes here.
5- Continue for 40 consecutive days.
To empower your set of mala beads, the same mantra should be practiced each day for 40 continuous days. If you miss a day, you must start over. This is great motivation to continue with your meditation practice!
Then wear it, or give it away. Use a new mala (set of beads) with each mantra if possible.
When not in use, store your mala in a special, clean and preferably sacred space.