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Mala Beads 

Mala beads consist of a string of 108 beads, with one bead considered the summit bead, which is called a sumeru

The Mala beads are a tool that can be used for keeping your mind on the practice of meditation.  Mala beads are typically made out of different materials, including tulsi (basil) wood, stone, sandalwood, rudraksh seeds, bone, or crystal. Each type of bead material has its own properties, which make subtle difference in its affect on the subconscious mind of the meditating person. 

Meditation, after all, is an exacting and tricky practice, since the mind can be somewhat like a naughty little kid.  The mind is naturally inclined to wandering off during the meditation practice, causing the practicing person to lose concentration.  Additionally, if your energy is low while you try to meditate, you can even fall asleep!  Conversely, if your energy is too high, you are prone to fantasizing, daydreaming and other distractions, which become barriers to the meditation practice.  It is at precisely these times that mala beads provide the assistance you require; a sort of anchor to your meditations. 

The mala beads are used by moving them in rhythm with the breath and the mantra of the meditating practitioner.   This ensures that both sleep and distraction are prevented, due to the action upon the beads. 

Mala beads can be used in a number of ways.  One of the most common ways to use the mala beads is to hang the string between the thumb and the ring finger.  Using the middle finger, the mala beads are rotated by one bead towards oneself, with each breath and repetition of the mantra. 

Another method for mala beads means that they hang on the middle finger, with the use of the thumb for rotating the mala, in the same way as the first method, one bead at a time. In all methods for mala beads, the index finger is not used, and never touches the mala beads. The dangling mala may coil on the floor, as the practicing hand rests on the right knee, or in front of the heart at the center of the chest.  

The practice of mala begins at the sumeru and continues its way around the loop until the summit has been reached once more.  The sumeru must never be passed over.  Therefore, if it is intended that more than one round of mala beads be performed, the string must be turned around, so that the meditator can proceed once more, but in the reverse direction.

 

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