A mala can be used in many ways. However, most often when someone is asking the question of how to use a mala they will be looking for the traditional mantra or counting approach to using a mala.
That is definitely one of the more popular ways to use a mala since that has been the traditional practice that goes back many years, however that is not the only way. Listed below are the different ways you can use your mala.
This is probably the simplest way to use your mala. Simply wearing it around your neck or on your wrist. While this method is simple, much more is happening behind the scenes. See below how energy and conditioning can influence your experience while wearing your mala.
Just like with wearing your mala beads, holding them is another simple method of using them. Just simply hold them in your hands in a way that you find comfortable with your hands resting on your lap. You may want to experiment holding them in your right hand versus your left hand and notice how that feels. See below how energy and conditioning can influence your experience while holding your mala.
Your mala has its own energy and presence which can lend to your meditative practice just by picking it up or wearing it. The energies of the wood or gemstones in the mala have their own energetic properties and can have a supportive nature of their own.
If you've had your mala blessed or reiki activated that can add another layer of support to the energies of the mala.
Also keep in mind that the more you use your mala the more that it begins to absorb your energies and over time will accumulate an essence that you will be able to instantly resonate with which can bring you to a deeper state more quickly.
A mala also has the ability to act as a trigger to put us into a deeper state just by the physiological relationship between our use of it and the response of our body to it.
If we are in a relaxed state while using or wearing our mala, over time that begins to re-enforce that physiological trigger more and more to the point where just touching, picking up or wearing the mala will generate a relaxed response because of the conditioned reaction while using it.
This method is more about the physical aspect of advancing the beads one by one through the hand while holding them. If you bring your focus to the movement of each bead and the sensations that this movement creates, it can bring your focus to one place, which will relax the mind and help you sink into a deeper state.
Start by picking up your mala in your right hand with the beads draped over your index finger and your thumb resting on top of one of the beads. You can rest your hand on your lap or have it elevated away from your body, which ever you find more comfortable.
As your thumb pushes the bead downward, you'll notice that the mala advances by one bead downward and you can bring your thumb to rest on the next bead. Simply repeat this motion, bringing all your awareness to this process. You may feel a little clumsy with it at first, but it doesn't take long to get the hang of it.
This is the traditional way to use a mala. With this method, you will be starting just like with the simple counting method above, but there are a couple distinctions that set this method apart.
If you are not familiar with mantras, you will want to learn more about mantras before moving forward with this approach.
First, you want to have a mantra or mantras to recite internally or out loud while rotating through the beads. Start by holding the mala in your right hand with the mala draped over your index finger and your thumb resting on top of the guru bead.
Tip: The guru bead is the bead directly connected to the tassel and at the very bottom of the mala if you were wearing it around your neck.
You can rest your wrist on your lap if that is more comfortable as long as it doesn't hinder your ability to advance each bead. As your thumb pushes the bead downward, you'll notice that the mala advances by one bead downward which allows your thumb to move up to and rest on the next bead.
As you repeat this process of advancing through the beads, you will recite your mantra or mantras one at a time. You will continue rotating through each of the beads until you reach the guru bead, at that point, rather than crossing over the guru bead, you will flip the mala around and begin again with the thumb resting on the guru bead and advancing it downward again.
For the duration of your meditation practice just repeat this process, advancing each bead by using your thumb to pull it downward, recite your mantra and flip the mala when you reach the guru bead, making sure not to cross over the guru bead.