There's something magical about holding and caressing the same object while meditating and working with mantra. You become intimate with it, it carries you through your practice, you become familiar with its weight and texture. Using a mala while meditating feels like I'm blessing it every time I practice, infusing it with my mantra, my spiritual essence, my energy. When I wear my mantra, I can feel all of that, hanging around my neck, nestled against my heart space. It's a comfort, an instant exhale.
I chose my mala with great care. I wanted one that was made in a spiritual manner rather than a commercial way. I wanted one that resonated with me -- Moonstone is one of my birthstones and a stone of peace and intuition, and Labradorite is one of my favorite stones for both its grounding and third-eye opening properties. Kwan Yin connects me to my Reiki roots, as she is a goddess of compassion, healing, and I can feel her presence when I work with energy healing. When I wear this mala, I'm reminded of all of that. I can feel its energy pulsating between my fingers.
How does a mala work? As I meditate, I hold the mala in my hands. I then work with a mantra, singing it aloud or in my mind's voice. Each time I repeat my mantra, I move my fingers to hold another bead. The large stone is called the guru stone, and it lets me know when I've completed 108 recitations of my mantra.
Why 108? 108 is a number that is seen as spiritual in yogic, Hindi, and Buddhist traditions. There are many reasons for this number being sacred -- some of my favorites are that there are said to be 108 energy lines converging in the heart chakra, 108 marmas in the body (marmas are like chakras -- they are places where energy paths cross, sort of like acupuncture points but in an ayurvedic tradition), and that the numbers 1, 0, and 8 are spiritually significant -- 1 stands for union of all with God, 0 stands for emptiness or spiritual evolution, and 8 stands for infinity.
Sometimes I'll commit to using 1 mantra daily for 40 days, and work with my mala to chant it 108 times each day that I practice. There's something wonderfully transformational about this.
Do you have a mala? How does it enhance your spiritual practice? I'd love to hear about it in the comments! <3