Our business just re-located to Maui! Stay tuned for some ocean and tropics inspired Meditation Malas coming soon!
One of the Spiritual Teachers local to Maui is Ram Dass - the former Harvard Psychologist, bestselling author and popular teacher ('Be here now', 'Fierce Grace'). We had the opportunity to see him at a satsang last weekend here on Maui -he is radiant as ever! The following is an excerpt of his description on how to use a Meditation Mala.
'How to Use a Mala'
by Ram Dass
"A mala is a string of beads, used to chant the names of God. It’s the same thing as prayer beads, or a rosary. A mala typically has either 108 beads (108 being considered a sacred number) or 27 beads (which is one-fourth of 108). In addition to the 108 or 27 “counting beads,” a mala generally has an additional bead, called the “guru bead,” which hangs perpendicular to the circle of counting beads.
A mala is usually worked with by using the right hand. The mala is held resting over the third finger of the right hand, and the beads are brought toward you, one by one, using the thumb. Each bead counts one repetition of the mantra. When you get around to the guru bead, you don’t count it, and you don’t pass it; you stop there, mentally bow to the guru, flip the mala around, and start going back the other way. Each time you come to the guru bead you awaken once more, then you turn around and go back the way you came.
Now for those of you who are left-handed (as I am): In India, you would be inclined to use the right hand anyway, because of certain cultural traditions. The Tibetans, on the other hand, have no such rules; they use their malas in either hand, and with any finger. The reason most people use the third finger is that there is a nerve on the inside of that finger which is connected to your spine in such a way that you’re getting a little added benefit from the practice. It’s similar to an acupressure point, and it adds a little extra energy rush to the process.
Doing a mantra doesn’t require using a mala; the mala is just there to add another dimension to the practice. Besides speaking the mantra, and hearing the mantra as you speak it, the process becomes tactile as well. If you want a psychological analysis of the use of a mala, you could say that it is a “kinesthetic cue device.” Without it, you could be doing the mantra and get lost in doing it mechanically. But if you suddenly feel the bead between your fingers, it wakes you up again. Bead by bead – it’s like the steps of a ladder, walking you straight into the Brahman."
A fabulous tool for enhancing your meditation practice is a mala, which is a string of beads used for prayer. Each mala has 108 beads (in some cases they’re made up of 54 or 27 beads, or another number divisible by nine). The beads are evenly spaced on silk thread, with a big bead (the guru bead) tying the mala, with a tassel attached to it. The tassel represents one thousand lotus petals. If you feel ready to deepen your meditation practice, begin incorporating a mala today.
To begin, let’s use a mantra: SA, TA, NA, MA. You can hold the mala in either hand at the bead that falls right after the guru bead. Then recite the mantra, SA, TA, NA, MA, while holding each bead between the thumb and one of the fingers, moving from one bead to the next with each sound. Pull each bead over the fingers with your thumb as you recite the mantra. Once you reach the guru bead say a special prayer and begin again.
By placing different fingers underneath the beads you can stimulate meridian points that affect different parts of the brain. When you press the beads against the meridian point in your finger you can experience certain results. Each meridian is located on the side of each finger between the center point and the upper knuckle. Here’s a breakdown of what each meridian point stimulates:
Index finger (Jupiter finger): Wisdom, knowledge, prosperity
Middle finger (Saturn Finger): Patience
Ring finger (Sun finger): Health, vitality, a strong nervous system
Pinky (Mercury finger): Communication, intelligence
Choose the meridian point that you want to work on and begin your mala meditation today. Know that this meditation will help you deepen your spiritual awareness and heighten your capacity for stillness. Relax, focus, and enjoy!
Letting the mind to become peaceful and staying in meditation state of stillness free from many thoughts is called shamata or sustained calm. Recognizing the empty nature of the mind within that state of calm is called vipashyana or profound insight. Uniting shamata and vipashyana is the essence of meditation practice. It is said:
What is a wish fulfilling jewel?
A maṇi-jewel, or magical jewel, manifests whatever one wishes for. (Skt. maṇi, cintā-maṇi,cintāmaṇi-ratna).
It is a metaphor for your MIND aligned with your highest wisdom to manifest inner and outer treasures beyond what you thought possible!