Mala is Sanskrit for a “Heavenly Garland” and is essentially used by yogis for mantra japa meditation and reflection. Increasingly, its becoming popular as a wider part of yoga practice and bohemian lifestyle. You can see mala beads favored by celebrities, yoga teachers, musicians, artists and regular folks alike. Simply stated, they can be worn by anyone who wants a more mindful, peaceful life 🙇 Each component used in a mala has a special meaning and significance :
Components of a Mala:
- The 108 beads (gemstone, organic seeds, crystals or wooden beads)
- The Guru or Meru Bead
- The Counter or Spacer Beads
- The Tassel
- The Thread
Why 108 Beads?
The number 108 has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and Buddhism. Traditionally, malas, or garlands of beads for prayer, come as a string of 108 (or other number divisible by 9) beads, plus one for the “guru bead,” which is to be counted. Hinduism believes that there are 108 Earthly Desires which need to be surrendered and after that we can move towards the 108 Energy Lines which form our higher, enlightened state of existence. Number 108 also signifies astrological connections and is considered a sacred and sanctified number in Buddhism.
The Guru or Meru Bead
The Guru bead also known as Meru bead is the 109th bead. This bead symbolises our Teacher and the Divine. When practicing our meditation, as you reach the Guru Bead, you turn the mala around 180 degrees and go back in reverse. Guru bead is not supposed to be counted or crossed over during japa meditation. It is separate from rest of the mala and counting it would signify disrespect or stepping over your meditation teacher, or ultimate teacher God.
The Counter or Spacer Beads
Counter and spacer beads are used to bring the mind back to the practice during meditation. During meditation, the mind tends to wander off from focus, specially when you’re starting new. The counter bead helps bring your awareness back to the Mantra when your hand runs over the counter bead due to difference in its size and texture. The spacing of counter beads can vary, but usually all Tibetan malas place counter beads at every 27th interval.
The tassel represents our connection to the Divine as it is the link between meditation beads and Guru bead of the mala and holds all of the threads and beads together. It also represents the state of enlightenment or Turiya – the state between deep sleep, dream and wakefulness.
The thread represents the bond that we have to the Universe as it holds the beads and the tassel together. The thread symbolises that everything is interconnected as beads come from the universe and so do we.
Each bead type used, whether it be a gemstone, crystal, seed, or wooden bead, has a meaning and significance. Some have healing qualities, some are spiritual representations. You can read more about these meanings here. Each of our malas describes which stones are used and what they represent. You can look up our 108 mala beads here>>
As always, Thanks for your time and attention and we would love to hear from you about any concept here or if you have any questions. We LOVE talking about meaning and significance of gemstones and inner transformation so do hit us up!
With Gratitude 💚 Team Sivalya