Have you ever used a Mala and practiced Japa meditation? Malas — also known as yoga beads or japamalas — are necklaces that usually have 108 beads. Mala, in Sanskrit means “garland”. Malas are meant to help you focus your mind during meditation. While Japa meditation is my favorite way to meditate, the beads themselves hold a powerful visual reminder throughout the day of the statement I meditated on and the tactile sensation brings me right back. When my mind wanders throughout the day, I can simply touch my mala and I am reminded of what statement I chose.
In meditation practice, Japa meditation holds a special place. It is the process of mentally repeating a mantra or speaking a phrase while meditating using a mala. The word Japa means muttering in Sanskrit. The meditative practice of Japa keeps the human mind steady and resistant to disturbance.
Meditation could mean different things to different people. I have written and taught how to transform meditation into mindfulness and how learning to live each moment in the state of mindfulness can change your life. While sometimes I have a “formal” meditation practice, it is often that my meditation/mindfulness practice takes shape in other ways.n
Many consider meditation as a quiet observation, wherein others often consider it a practice of self-awareness or reflection upon themselves. Either way, stillness and introspection is an amazing insight to your daily life.
I love to practice Japa meditation because for me it helps me to focus on a powerful statement, 108 times. It embeds in my spirit something positive and powerful. Plus the tactile use of the mala adds an element to the meditation that my mind enjoys. I have several Malas—some are made of stones like jasper and agate but my favorite is a sandalwood mala that has become richer over times as I use it.
The practice of Japa creates beneficial mental pathways and is a strong technique for focusing the mind and harnessing the subtle powers of the body/mind. I have seen this practice in my students many times as we learn Japa together. Some have even purchased mala beads to continue on their own.
How to practice Japa meditation:
Japa meditation is practiced by moving your fingers along a mala or the strings of beads known as Japa mala. There are many types of Japa that include speaking the mantra aloud, whispering the mantra or silently repeating the mantra. I prefer to be silent. There is also a technique you can use if you don’t have a string of mala beads. You can see that technique in this video.
Now that you know how to practice Japa, choose a powerful statement and try it.
Here are some positive affirmations to try:
- I am calm
- I am centered
- I am in control
- I am loved
- I am grateful
- am worthy of what I do and speak
- I am valued and loved
- I am allowed to put myself first
- I am safe
- I am secure
- I release all my shame that I am holding
- I love my body and what it does for me.
Most often, I simply say “I am____” and follow it with a variety of words like patient, strong, healthy, resilient, powerful, etc.
Are you going to give it a try?
* this is my sandalwood mala and a Sanskrit word Shanti tattoo which translates to peace
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