What Is A Mala?

A mala, (Sanskrit word meaning garland) is a set of beads, traditionally used to focus awareness during meditation. Typically a practitioner thumbs through each bead while repeating a mantra of choice. The mantra could be anything from a traditional Sanskrit phrase to one the practitioner makes up that they want to bring light to in their own life. Malas are made from 108 beads, or any iteration of that number. The auspicious number of 108 has an unlimited number of explanations as to why this specific number. Just a few are:

  • There are 108 energy lines, or nadis, converging to form the heart chakra

  • The Buddhist tradition talks about the 108 earthly desires in mortals, 108 lies humans tell and 108 human delusions

  • In yoga, practicing 108 Sun Salutations brings about change

  • Stonehenge is 108 feet in diameter

  • There are said to be 108 types of meditation

  • Some say there are 108 paths to God

  • Indian traditions have 108 dance forms.

  • Hindu deities have 108 names

  • In Japan, at the end of the year, a bell is chimed 108 times in Buddhist temples to finish the old year and welcome the new one

  • The distance between the earth and the sun is 108 times the diameter of the sun

  • The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth

  • The distance between the earth and the moon is 108 times the diameter of the moon

Like most things in this life, it starts with intention. A mala is more about the intention around it for you personally than anything else. The beauty is in the choice of what your heart and soul need from the piece. You make it what it is.

“A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.” - Lucius Annaeus Seneca


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