Malas & Meditation
WHAT IS A MALA?
A Mala is more than just ornamental jewellery: it is a faithful friend to the one who meditates and sings my sweet Lord's name. A Mala facilitates concentration and focus in meditation. It enables you to stay true to the sound and meaning of Mantra, and to awaken an exalted state of consciousness in your meditation.In long ago days, a Mala was made of one continuous string, the beads formed by tying 108 knots in the string. The ends of the string were knotted together into a Sumeru or Guru, signifying the unity or oneness of all the individual knots.
I am the Awareness that makes itself all forms, just as one long cotton thread can have thousands of knots but remains one thread, without any second or third knot as something other than itself. Bhagavad Gita VII:7
More recently, Malas were made from seeds and wood of plants and trees such as Chandan-sandal wood, Kamal-lotus, Rudraksh, and Tulsi-holy basil.
The Mala of today has evolved into an aesthetic item: ideally, it is fashioned from one gemstone which integrates the attributes, energies, and vibrations belonging to the gemstone into your meditation.
WHAT IS MEDITATION?
Every one of us is a unique presence on Earth, having come over here from a source space that is oneness, awareness, light and love.
By birth, we are made forgetful of our true nature, and may become immersed in an imaginary sense of separation, and seeking a return to our original abode.
Endowed with an instrument ~ a mind ~ that gets built to convince us we are born, we will ultimately perish, and that blessedness in between these events depends upon the condition of our bodies, it may seem that happiness, or the undivided state, lies just beyond reach.
Meditation attunes mind to its source, its essence, its originality, the space of no-mind, only awareness pure.
Close your eyes, and see you.
- Sit at ease in any posture.
- Close your eyes.
- Immediately after closing your eyes, watch whatever space you see inside.
- In the middle of this space, make an imaginary centre of any size.
- Begin to repeat "Amaram Hum Madhuram Hum," as if the words are coming from that centre to your eyes.
- Focus your attention on the last humming sound of each word spoken. This will allow you to focus your attention on the first sound of the next word. Continue this repetition with one-pointedness.
- Be aware that you are the Knower who knows how to initiate and repeat "Amaram Hum Madhuram Hum," how to listen to these words in silence, and how to know the meaning contained within them: "I am immortal, I am blissful."
- If any thought or many thoughts arise, persist or subside during this period, remain neutral, just watching. Gently focus your attention on the Knower, realising this Knower as infinite, eternal and unchanging: Pure Existence, Pure Consciousness, and Pure Bliss. This Knower is all-permeating and indivisible; it is one without a second name or substance.
- You are the Knower. Continue meditating and holding this realisation for some time. Recognise this Knower as your own Self, the source of every thought, every thing, and everyone.
- In this way, devote at least 11 minutes a day to meditation.
MEDITATING WITH A MALA
Seated in comfort, ideally in padmasana (lotus pose) or sukhasana (half lotus pose), hold your Mala lightly in your right hand with the fingers extended toward your heart. (The hand can be at heart level or laid in the lap.) Lay the Mala over the inner tip of your ring finger, with the thumb resting on the ring finger to stabilise it. Your middle finger, which represents sky, space or akash* gently turns the Mala bead-by-bead. Essentially, your hands are forming Akash Vardhak Mudra, which invites space into your being. Your index finger should not be engaged at all, as it represents the individual aspect of existence, and will keep you grounded in mind-body consciousness. With each turn, one repetition of Mantra is chanted.
A full round of recitation represents the symbolic journey from the earth to the sun, opens the passage from the heart to the sky, churns the ocean of immortality, and by quieting the breath leads to the eternal and enlightenment.
Upon reaching the Guru, 108 repetitions (or 27 if a hand-held Mala is used in the meditation) have taken place, and Guru is honoured as the underlying essence of the whole of existence. If your Mantra is still singing, turn your Mala around and carry on.
When Guru enters into man's heart and mind, he hears a symphony of the celestial kind. Guru Bhayd
*The akash mudra is metaphysically connected to the sahasrar (crown chakra or door-of-bliss), which when open releases the kundalini energy, stored at the base of the spine, into sky space. Oneness is directly perceived.