Lately, the word “Mala” has been appearing whenever I did an internet search of some info on Yoga. I have never paid attention to it but it is just appearing again and again. I started to observe quite a few of my Yoga teachers wearing a chain of Mala. My mum being a staunch Taoist and to me my childhood memories of Mala are those that were wore by monks – chanting in temple. Lately, Mala appeared again as I was reading a book “EAT, PRAY, LOVE” with a total of 108 chapters – same as the counts of the bead of the Mala chain.
I got a chain of Sandalwood Mala – which is a comfort gift from my mum. She pleaded to have the Mala from the temple and given that to me as safety amulet due to my frequent travel job. To me I accepted it to ensure she has her peace of mind. Now working on the assignment, the topic Mala just came out and this is how I get started typing.
Finally I found the Mala, which I chuck it aside for many years. I thought in my memory that I have a wrist Sandalwood mala and when I opened the box, it is actually a full mala Sandalwood Serpentine Mala. This is just a chain which has no meaning to me for so many years and all of sudden I felt a strong connection with it at the first sight when I opened the box. The time is right. I want to know it better and let it be a part of me.
Mala is a string of beads used to count mantras in sets of 27, 56 or 108 repetitions. I will have to hold the mala on my right hand and use my thumb to count each mantra by touching the bead during the recitation and then lightly pushing the bead away on completion and moving to the next bead. The index finger is extended and should not touch the mala. The large meru bead should not be counted or touched by the thumb and is used as a starting and ending point of recitation. If you have a wrist mala of 27 beads, you will need do 4 rounds of recitation until you have done 108 repetitions.
The Sanskrit word japa is derived from the root jap-, meaning “to utter in a low voice, repeat internally, mutter”.To empower the mala and mantra used, japa (mantra meditation) should b practiced each day for 40 continuous days. When the mala becomes empowered it can be worn or lightly place on oneself or others to transmit the energy of the mantra as well as the energetic qualities of the mala.
Malas can be made of several materials and have different meanings. The Sandalwood Mala that I have has a fragrant which is intended to overcome all obstacles on the path to Enlightenment and know the true nature of the mind. Overcome emotions, greed, anger, hate, desire and lust, evil. Sandalwood gives strengthens and purifies the mind.
With the basic understanding of using mala, I have to choose a mantra. Two recommended Mantras to go with my mala. Firstly the Om Mantra – representing the most important of all mantras it is the representation of the Supreme Being. The past, present and the future are all included in this one sound. The other choice is Aham Brahma Asmi Mantra – this is considered an “abstract” mantra (meaning it is not associated with a particular deity) whose words evoke a feeling of “oneness” with all of creation denying confinement to the body and mind. I have not chosen my mantra yet, I think I need to understand my intention and perhaps at some point use my intuition over my intellect to find the most comfortable combination.

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