How to Use A Japa Mala For Meditation?
Meditation helps us connect with the inner world. There are many ways in which one can meditate and find peace. One such way of meditating is using the japa mala. You would have seen elders in your family meditating with a mala in their hands. I have seen my aunt do it every night before going to bed. She chants a mantra silently along with that. Let’s find out more about this form of meditation.
Japa mala- what is it?
In Sanskrit ‘mala’ means garland and ‘japa’ means recitation. So the term ‘japa mala’ mainly means prayer beads. Japa mala is used for meditation in Hinduism.
In India, the use of mala beads seems to have originated around the 8th century BC. It is used to count mantras or prayers in sets of 27,54 or 108 repetitions. There is a large bead that helps as the starting and ending point on the mala when one is counting the repetitions. This practice of meditating with a mala beads is ancient and it was developed in keeping the mind focused while meditating.
In other cultures and religions also mala beads are used, they are called prayer beads, worry beads and rosary beads. Two-thirds of the population of the world uses some kind of prayer beads as a spiritual practice.
Coming to the material of the mala, mala beads are made up of several different materials. The properties of the beads are known to have certain specific energetic effects. Different religious traditions have used specific materials to make the beads.
Importance of the mantra
Apart of the mala beads, the recitation of the mantra is equally important. It is either a word or a series of words chanted silently or aloud in order to connect with your spiritual self. Chanting is used in every religion and culture as a spiritual tool. In our Yogic tradition, a mantra is a Sanskrit word or phrase that has the power to transform consciousness, help in the healing process and fulfill desires.
How to choose the mantra?
You can either choose the mantra by yourself or it can be given to you by your Guru. While you select a mantra know your intentions and use your gut feeling over your intellect while choosing it. You can try out different mantras a few times to see how it feels. Whatever fits you the best should be your mantra.
How to meditate using the japa mala?
Chanting of a mantra is a form of meditation. Here is how to go about it:
1) Sit in a comfortably with your eyes closed.
2) Hold the mala in your right hand as in Indian tradition the left hand is not considered to be pure.
3) Repeat the mantra aloud or silently with your mind focused, breathing slowly and deeply. Also let go of thoughts.
4) Using your thumb, count each mantra by touching one bead of the mala while chanting and then slowly pull the bead in your direction on completing the mantra and move on to the next bead.
The index finger shouldn’t touch the beads and you should extend that finger. The mountain bead shouldn’t be counted or touched by the thumb as it used as a starting and ending point of chanting. You can continue till you have completed 108 repetitions or multiples of the same.
It is believed that when you are not using the mala, you should keep it in a special place, preferably sacred. You can place it on the idol of a deity.
Are you ready for meditating with the japa mala?
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