Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the stress of daily life? Have you tried meditation but struggled to stay focused? Mala beads might help.
Mala beads have been used for centuries for meditation and prayer. But did you know that they can also positively impact your mental health?
If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress and improve your mental wellbeing, consider using mala beads. Mala beads are becoming popular as a tool to help improve mental health. They can be a great addition to your self-care routine.
This article discusses the benefits of mala beads and how to use them for focus and relaxation.
What Are Mala Beads, and Why Are They Used in Meditation and Prayer Practices?
Mala beads are a tool meant to assist you in meditation. They originated in India for prayer and meditation practices.
The word “mala” is Sanskrit for “garland.” These beads were designed to be strung together as garlands worn around the neck or wrist. Mala beads are traditionally created with rudraksha seeds and sandalwood beads, but using gemstones have become popular present day. There are typically 109 beads, 108 identical beads with a larger guru bead in the center.
An important aspect of a mala is the number of beads used. Malas contain 108 beads, and that is a symbolic number for many reasons. To name a few:
- 108 signifies spiritual completion in yoga practices.
- 108 energy lines lead to the heart chakra.
- 108 is a sacred number in math, geometry, astrology, and numerology.
- Hinduism has 108 names for deities.
- Tibetan Buddhism has 108 volumes of sacred text.
Using mala beads dates back to the 8th century CE, when Buddhist monks brought them back from India. Each bead represents one recitation of a mantra or prayer.
Over time, mala beads have become popular among people of all faiths. In recent years, Westerners have begun to use mala beads. Many are adopting them into their rituals and practices.
How Can Using Mala Beads Help Improve Your Mental Health and Well-Being?
It's important to understand that mala beads do not improve your mental health on their own. They are only a tool. Here's how they work:
When we meditate, it isn't always easy to focus. Our minds naturally tend to drift or analyze. So we use mala beads to help focus our wandering minds.
We give our consciousness something to focus on, like counting beads. With our conscious mind occupied, our inner monologue quiets. Then our consciousness shifts into a peaceful, meditative state of flow.
Fight or Flight: The Sympathetic Nervous System
What's so great about shifting ourselves into a meditative state? The answer isn't some magical reason or ritual. Using mala beads to help with meditation facilitates a powerful biological response!
Our nervous system is either in "fight or flight" or "rest and digest" mode. If we stay in "fight or flight" for long periods, it takes a toll on our bodies.
The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for fight-or-flight situations. When our sympathetic nervous system stays on for too long, the results can wreak havoc on our bodies.
In a fight-or-flight situation, the body needs to pump more blood to the muscles to be ready for action. This increases the heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, it can injure the cardiovascular system.
The sympathetic nervous system causes our airways to constrict. That's why it can sometimes be difficult to breathe during extreme stress or anxiety. It's why we have feelings of suffocation when we panic.
Increased adrenaline levels also affect your digestive system. Our body slows down our digestive processes and sends energy to other areas.
But once there is no threat, we need our digestive system to work well again! So if your adrenaline is always going, you may have diarrhea or constipation.
Rest and Digest: The Parasympathetic Nervous System
The "rest and digest" mode is the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system. It's responsible for calming the body and restoring it to equilibrium. This mode is activated when we're in a relaxed state, such as when we're sleeping, eating, or meditating.
When we use mala beads to focus on our meditation practice, it helps shift the body into "rest and digest" mode. This allows the body to calm down and repair any damage that may have been done during periods of stress.
Regular breath work, mantras, or visualization helps quiet the mind reduce stress. Many people with chronic health issues have found relief in regular meditation practice.
Mala beads can even promote self-awareness and compassion. Growing our emotional intelligence is essential for a healthy mind and body. When used correctly, mala beads can be a powerful tool to improve mental health and well-being.
How to Use Mala Beads
When you begin using your mala bead necklace, set an intention for your practice. When you have a specific intention in mind, it can help focus your practice and bring more purpose.
The most common use of mala beads is to recite an affirmation while holding the beads in one hand. Then gently roll them between the thumb and fingers of the other hand.
As you pass each bead, repeat the mantra until you finish counting all 108 beads. You can then repeat the process, if you want to.
How to Use Mantras
In yogic practices, intentions and affirmations are called "mantras." A mantra is a short, powerful statement used to focus your mind, break barriers, and achieve goals.
Some people use mantras during their meditation or yoga practice. Others say them throughout the day to keep themselves grounded and focused. There is no right or wrong way to use a mantra – it’s all about finding what works for you.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some powerful mantras to get you started:
- I am letting go.
- I am accepting.
- I am enough.
- I am loved.
As your consciousness focuses on a mantra, bring your awareness to the feeling. What does it feel like to embody that mantra?
As your focus deepens, elevate that feeling. Stay with it for longer than is comfortable, and then push further. Deep dive into an exploration of being that mantra.
Mala Beads and Visualization
When you have a goal that you’d like to achieve, it can be helpful to visualize yourself achieving it. “Visualization” or “guided imagery,” is a great way to train your mind to achieve your goals.
As you hold your beads, close your eyes and visualize yourself achieving your goal. See yourself succeeding and feel the emotions that come with it. The more you can imagine yourself achieving your goals, the more likely you will achieve them.
Mala Beads and Mindful Breathing
One of the simplest ways to use mala beads for mental health is by focusing on your breath. When you’re feeling stressed, take a few minutes to focus on your breath and count the beads as you inhale and exhale.
Why Mala Beads Work
So how can counting, breathing, and repeating words help your mental health?
You've already learned how important it is to turn off our fight or flight nervous system when it is not needed. But did you know that regular meditation can help rewire neural connections?
Meditating with mala beads facilitates the biological response that your body needs. The more you practice, the easier it will be to access these deep-seated changes and create new habits. You may even find that mala beads help you cope with stress
Let's break down the science behind why this works.
Mental Health Benefits of Visualization
Practicing visualization can help calm the mind and promote feelings of peace. It can also help focus the mind and provide a sense of control during difficult times. Therapists use visualization as part of cognitive therapy. It can work well with conditions like anxiety or depression.
Mental Health Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a technique that can help you focus on the present moment. It is great for helping you to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness helps you step back from your thoughts for a more objective perspective. Mindfulness can also help decrease rumination. Rumination is a symptom of anxiety in which is when you dwell on negative thoughts.
Mindfulness-based interventions are associated with significant reductions in symptoms of anxiety and depression. Other studies found that mindfulness can help reduce stress, rumination, and negative emotions.
Mala beads can also be a reminder to stay present and focused on positive thoughts. Holding onto a mala necklace can serve as a physical anchor to bring us back to the present moment.
Mental Health Benefits of Mindful Breathing
Regular deep breathing practice exercises train your brain to better handle anxiety-inducing situations. We become more aware of our bodies and are more likely to notice biological reactions to stress.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed or stressed, pause and practice deep breathing exercises. Doing this trains your body to handle future stressors better.
Focus Your Thoughts With Mala Beads
If you want a way to improve your mental health, give mala beads and meditation a try. If you don’t have time to sit down and meditate for long periods, that's okay. Five or ten minutes of meditation using mala beads can make a big difference.
Focusing on the breath and repeating a mantra is great for anxiety, depression, or stress. And the best part is that both practices can be done from the comfort of your own home!
So next time you feel overwhelmed by the stress of daily life, take a deep breath and pause. And you might choose to consider using mala beads to help you in your journey forward!