A Mala or Jap Mala is a garland (Mala) used for meditation or as a necklace worn to remind one to have a compassionate heart. or both. The 108 beads can represent 100 prayers for the world and 8 for yourself or 100 prayers for yourself and 8 for the world. Another interpretation is 100 mantras and 8 extra in case of error. You may just get tongue tied while chanting.
With the existing interpretations and history I tend to add in my own particular bent. The style that I create has an additional 3 spacer beads that correspond to the guru bead, separating the 108 into 4 sections. For me this relates to the 4 noble truths of Buddhism:
There is suffering,
There is a cause of suffering
There can be a cessation of suffering
There is a path that leads to the end of suffering.
Knowing that crusaders, back in the day, brought Malas back as Rosaries adds another layer to the puzzle.
Over the next few weeks I'll be adding more uncovered information on the history of Malas as I find it. While you wait for next weeks tidbit try out using your Mala in this simple gratitude meditation.
Sit quietly and comfortably. Close your eyes and hold your Mala in your receptive (non-dominant) hand. Use each counting bead to denote one thing you are grateful for, going slowly and taking your time, ending with the Guru bead. Once you arrive at the Guru bead (central focus) add in gratitude for all of your life's teachers.
Love long and prosper, Namaste.
Jocelynne Lowans is an animated Yogini-Artist on a mission to deepen the creative experience and growth of the world while remaining a crazy cat lady.