For most of you who attend yoga classes you’ll have noticed people wearing necklaces/malas made of beads and have perhaps wondered what these are. So I’m clearing this up for you today! Malas have been used for centuries in Buddhist and Hindu cultures, and are not just pieces of jewellery, but are spiritual objects used for meditation, mantra practice, healing, peace, enlightenment and protection. Anyone can wear mala beads, whether you meditate or not.
You can wear them around your wrist, your neck, hang them at your altar, or meditate on them. Malas vary in size, material, and some have stones, gems, and tassels. Every Mala is unique and as such may require specific care. The following tips for can be used for most Malas, but specifically Rudraksha Malas which are one of the most common seeds used (due to their unique vibration, peace, and healing properties) – Rudraksha seeds usually come from Nepal, Thailand, Burma, and Indonesia (with the best quality from the Himalayas).
- How to use
Rudraksha is said to help increase concentration and mental clarity making meditation easier, to reduce negative thoughts, block negative energies, increase energy, to protect, for peace, and to prevent against an untimely accidental death. As Malas absorb our energy it is beneficial to wear your Mala through meditation, yoga (or place on your mat), when needing protection, when chanting mantra, and whenever possible to absorb all your beautiful energy.
Most Malas contain 108 beads and often a 109th larger ‘guru’ bead; symbolic of Supreme Consciousness. To use your Mala for chanting mantra, you hold it in your right hand (the left hand is seen as an impure/negative energy channel) starting at one end (or counting away from the end how many mantra repetitions you want) and use the thumb, ring and middle finger to move from one bead to another bringing the beads towards you and finishing on the last bead before the guru bead; making sure never to cross/count this bead.
- When Not to Wear
Rudraksha Malas are a ‘wear as much as possible’ kind of Mala, however there are a few exceptions; during menstruation, at places with negative energy, such as funerals or cemeteries, brothels, the bathroom, and avoid showering/bathing/ swimming/exercising with it on as getting it regularly wet can reduce the seeds lifetime.
- Cleaning and Cleansing
Malas are worn directly on the skin and as such can get dirty. To remove dirt you can soak it in warm water with an eco-friendly soap or Himalayan salt for 30 minutes (or overnight for a deeper clean) then rinse or use a toothbrush to clean in the grooves. Then allow your Mala to air-dry fully before wearing.
As Malas absorb energy very easily (it’s important to never lend your Mala to anyone; if you do make sure to cleanse it after) they can also absorb negative energy, which is where cleansing is needed. The frequency is up to you, and at times you may notice your Mala won’t need cleansing for a while. But if you feel the energy needs resetting, perhaps having been around negative energy or if you’ve been going through stress and tough times the best methods are:
- Smudging sage whilst noting your intention for your Mala, such as love or protection. It is also beneficial to chant “Aum Namah Shivaya” 9 times while smudging (this mantra is used as Rudraksha seeds are said to be the ‘eyes of lord Shiva’).
- Lay the Mala in sunlight or the light of the full moon (for example on a cloth on a windowsill) to absorb the light and naturally recharge.
- Encircling it with other powerful objects like crystals, candles, incense, or a statue.
- Placing it in a meditation bowl and ringing the bowl 3 times.
- Placing it on an altar or Himalayan rock salt lamp for 2-3 hours.
Malas should be treated with love and respect and should not be left lying around or come in direct contact with the ground (leaving on your yoga mat or rug is fine) as this is said to ‘de-charge’ the stored up energy in the Mala; but if you do drop it just see it as a way of giving back to mother earth.
Store your Mala either in a silk pouch or wrapped in a soft clean cloth when not being worn.
- Prolonging its lifespan
Occasionally oiling the seeds every few months with natural oils like coconut, sesame, or almond, helps prevent them from drying out and cracking and prolongs its lifespan. You will notice your Mala will darken over time; this is due to natural oils in your skin being absorbed and has similar benefits to oiling your Mala.
If your Mala has tassels you can comb them, soak them and let them dry naturally, or lightly trim the ends to freshen them up.
Malas can last up to 8 generations if cared for appropriately, however, if your Mala breaks (whilst being treated well) it isn’t a bad thing, but rather “karmic progression” and a symbol that you have outgrown the intention and use for that Mala. Use this as an opportunity to find yourself a new piece and set a positive intention and manifestation for your new Mala.
If you would like a mala specifically chosen for you and delivered, please get in contact with me – I would be honoured to do this.
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With so much Fricking Love,