If you live in a city or urban environment chances are that every day you are exposed to stress and various environmental stressors. Light pollution, long work days, long commutes, and the constant stream of people and energy can sometimes throw off our internal balance and overall wellness. Yoga and meditation are excellent tools for helping rejuvenate the body, reduce stress, and improve overall health, fitness, and mental balance.
If you practice yoga and meditation regularly, you may want to consider adding mala beads to your practice to help reduce stress, improve grounding and balance, and to help with chronic problems such as insomnia, pain, and fatigue.
A mala is a strand of 108 beads, 54 beads, 27 beads, 21 beads, or 7 beads used to keep count during meditation. Mala beads have been used for meditation since at least the 10th century. Traditional mala beads are often made from natural materials such as rudraksha seeds, bodhi seed, wood, and yak bone. Mala beads are used to help keep count of breaths or mantras during a meditation practice. They can be made from traditional natural materials or they can be made from gemstones that can help focus the mind on a single pointed intention. By adding mala beads to your practice, you can help focus your mind on one intention. Mala beads can be worn on the mat to help focus your practice and they can be worn off the mat to keep your intention with you either as a necklace or bracelet.
Using Mala Beads
Using a mala is simple:
Begin by setting an intention for your practice. Choose a breath meditation or mantra to guide you in manifesting this intention.
- Sit quietly in a cross legged position. Close your eyes and observe the speed and depth of your natural breath. Begin to breathe deeply and focus on your mantra.
- Hold your mala in your right hand. Place your thumb on the guru bead (the distinctive bead at the base of a mala) and begin visualizing or reciting your mantra or taking a deep in breath and out breath. At the end of the breath or mantra push the mala bead away with your thumb and move onto the next bead for another round.
- Repeat step 3 for a round of 7, 21, 27, 54, or 108 mala beads.
Urban Stress and Mala Beads: Tiger Eye, Hematite, and Jade
In an urban context, choosing a mala for grounding and connecting to nature can be helpful for reducing stress and restoring balance. If you are interested in improved grounding, balance, and vitality, tiger eye mala beads are ideal. This gemstone is believed to aid the body in achieving physical, mental and emotional balance. It also aids in improving overall strength and health. Another excellent gemstone for grounding is magnetic hematite. Magnetic hematite is believe to aid the body in grounding to the earth and its essential energies, it is believed to help in the reduction of chronic pain, especially pain related to the joints and wearers of magnetic hematite suggest that it aids in deeper sleep and can improve energy levels. If you suffer from insomnia, meditating with magnetic hematite mala beads may help. Finally, you may want to ground and connect to nature if you live in an urban environment to help reduce your overall stress level. Jade mala beads can help you focus your mind on the nature that exists in your environment. Jade mala beads are believed to aid the wearer with reconnecting to nature, feeling a sense of harmony, and creating an overall sense of joy.
You may wish to try adding a mala to your practice and witness how it helps focus your mind on the intentions behind the gemstones and how this in turn shifts your perspective, practice, and overall sense of wellness.