What/Why/Where of Rudraksha (rude-rock-sha)
How to choose your mala
When selecting a mala it is helpful to ponder on what is happening currently in your life, your intention, your wishes, your struggles. Maybe pause, close your eyes, take a deep breath and see what you are drawn to then?
How do you pick a mala for yourself? You don’t. The mala PICKS YOU. So many times through the years I have seen people walk up to a table filled with hundreds of malas and their hand goes directly to one and touches it or even picks it up. This can happen while they are still in conversation with someone or absent mindedly passing by. We can spend an hour or more trying them on, mulling them over, reading up on different gemstone aspects, but more often than not, that original one, the one you are drawn to without even realizing it, is YOUR mala. Same holds true for buying a mala as a gift for someone else. I tell people to close their eyes briefly and pull up an image or a feeling of the person they are buying it for and then to slowly open their eyes and allow their hands, led by their soul, to retrieve a mala off the table or off the website. This, most often is the ONE. Be open, let the mala choose you, let the universe surprise you with what she is offering you.
Is it ok to buy a mala for yourself what about as a gift?
Bali Malas is asked often about buying malas for our selves and for others and about giving them away. Is it okay to buy a mala for yourself? Is it okay to buy for a friend? How do you pick a mala for yourself? How do you pick a mala for a friend? There is a Buddhist tradition of “gifting” your mala, particularly if your mala was complimented on. This is a practice of letting go of our attachments, of not being “attached” to things and to their meaning. NOT an easy practice, especially when it is your favorite mala! We have done this, this spontaneous gifting of our malas, about a half dozen times, and it does bring up that initial “ack” but quickly melts into peaceful graciousness. I encourage you to give it a try. My husband has actually given away his favorite mala several times. If he would meet up with a friend who may be in a rough patch in their lives, he would take his mala off from around his neck, still warm with his body heat, and place it around the neck of the friend in need, with a quick “you need this more than I right now” and a twinkle in his eye. Some of these friends still wear his “gifted on the spot malas” to this day, years later.
Mala beads actually can hold the essence of the wearer. My husband and I trade our malas, especially when we are traveling separately, in this way we carry a bit of our beloved with us on own individual journey. This is a little tradition other couple friends of ours have adopted as well.
Malas, or sacred necklaces, are made of 108 beads and used to hold our prayers and our mantras, our blessings, and our wishes. These little necklaces of string and beads provide us with so many opportunities to learn and grow, using them as a tool in meditation practice, or as a daily reminder by wearing as an adornment, However I’ve used them, they repeatedly teach me to trust myself.
How do you use a mala?
Using a mala (necklace or garland of strung together beads) as a meditation tool is known as japa, or japa mala, or mantra japa or mantra meditation, particularly in Buddhist and Hindu culture. The traditional use of a mala is for the circulation of a mantra, a prayer, an intention. Nearly every religion in the world has some form of a prayer bead it works with, a common form is a Christian rosary. It is not a coincidence that prayer beads are present in almost every culture, using beads as a tool of meditation is as old as human history.
One “round” of japa meditation is the touching of each one of the beads on your mala. Starting from the guru bead (the 109th bead on the strand, which is not part of the mantra counting, usually a large bead near the tassel) moving the mala with your thumb across your middle finger, moving each bead with each chant or statement of your mantra/prayer. Continuing all the way around the strand, bead by bead, returning back to the guru bead again. It is exceptionally helpful to have a knot between each bead, like Bali Malas all do: ).
For you visual learns we like this short video from the Himalayan Institute on how to use a mala -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuPmTCbZwSQ
What is a Mantra?
This repetitive cycle of practice (above) can be enhanced with a mantra. A mantra is an offering, an affirmation, a prayer, a call, an opening, a request. The mantra may be spoken softly, enough for the practitioner to hear it, or it may be spoken purely within the reciter’s mind. I used to scoff at the idea of uttering a sound in my meditation, concerned with what I’d sound like, what exactly am I chanting, and what was the purpose? Until I actually tried it. Uttering out loud, offering to the universe your mantra can be transformative. The repetition of 108 at first can seem a bit mundane, boring, then it can slowly transfer you into a trance-like state of utter peace.
Your mantra can be a self initiated mantra like “I am calm in this time of turmoil”, a more universal mantra “om mani padme hum”, or a mantra that your teacher has ushered to you. Mantras are considered capable of creating transformation of energy / vibration into divine qualities. Mantras are used within various spiritual paths to enhance meditation or to lead to meditation. After your practice, sit in the stillness you’ve created and allow the peace to wash over you. Start, maybe silently at first, but eventually open your mouth, express yourself through your mantra and let your mala be your guide.
“let your body be the lower firestick; let the mantra be the uppper.. Rub them against each other in meditation and realize the source” – Upanishads
How to care for your mala:
Malas are considered to be sacred and should be cared for as such. We encourage you to keep them in a place of honor, keep off the floor, but most importantly wear/use them! When not in use, store your mala in a special, clean and preferably sacred space.
On occasion you may want to clean and oil your beads. You can delicately brush the beads and apply coconut or sandalwood oil. Oiling makes the beads stronger and resistant to drying out or cracking. Mala beads love to be bathed in the smoke of incense, this is activating them, so good for maybe when not used often.
Care specific to Rudraksha:
- Keep the beads as close to your skin as possible.
- Keep them off the ground and they should not be worn below the waist or for children under 12 years of age
- Rudrakshas are very holy and should be treated with respect.
- The greater care you give your rudraksha the longer it will shower benefits on you. Some rudraksha malas have been known to pass through the family for eight generations.
The tassels of a mala represent the “blood line” or the lineage of the creator of the mala or the intention and lineage of the owner. Our tassels can be washed, just put a touch of soap and water in your palm, swish the tassel, rinse, dry and then gently comb through
How to Activate your mala:
Once you have your mala you may want to "activate"it. There are many traditions here, when you first get it we suggest you steep in pure water with flower petals, or light a candle, or bathe in incense smoke, or create your own tradition. Finger your beads, repeat your intention, your desires, your wishes, your mantra. We love bathing our malas in sunlight and particularly full moon light. All our malas are blessed in Bali before they even leave the workshop, so it is not necessary to “activate” your mala, unless you desire to.
Help! My mala broke!
So you had a "breakthrough." Tradition has it that a broken mala represents a break in a karmic cycle, so congratualtions! Bali Malas is happy to offer you a one time free repair. Just send your broken mala (and the bits of it you can find) back to us and we will send it back to Bali to be repaired and re-blessed by the same hands that created it! Expect 4-6 weeks turnaround time.
Do you make custom Malas?
Yes! We request a minimum 25 pieces order. Perferct for your teacher trainings and students!
What is a Rudraksha and the other sacred beads Bali Malas uses in its malas?
Rudrakshas may be the earliest known form of prayer beads, having been worn since at least 1000B.C. Malas have been used for centuries traditionally to count mantras (prayers) during meditation practices.The divine quality of this bead were first noted in ancient Hindu scriptures and have proclaimed through the ages to; bless one with peace of mind; protect against evil doers and spirits; bless one with peace and prosperity. Buddha wore rudraksha beads, along with the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, and many enlightened yogis.
Learn More: Are you an old school Yogi?
Rudrakshas are a symbol of compassion, humanity and a simple reminder of the present. As the story goes, Lord Shiva was meditating in the forest on the state of the world. He began to cry tears of compassion and as his tears hit the ground they formed the rudraksha seed. Rudraksha literally translated means “eyes of Shiva”.
Only Bali Malas has the source for highest quality small rudraksha beads in the world. Making Bali Malas the most sacred, healing of malas.
What's in a Rudraksha bead?
Scientifically rudraksha contain carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen. When we wear rudraksha against our bodies we are literally carrying sacks of oxygen, carbon and hydrogen. Soaking up the vibration of pure living organisms, in doing so helping many to feel “in nature”. Many people believe that this helps to produce freedom from stress, depression and lethargy. Transcending science, there is an unexplainable positive powerful force manifested in rudraksha.
Where can I buy Bali Malas?
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