To understand the history of the Mala, we must first understand the significance of the number 108.
-There are 12 constellations, and 9 arc segments called namshas or chandrakalas. 9 times 12 equals 108. Chandra is moon, and kalas are the divisions within a whole.
-The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance from the Sun to the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun.
-The average distance of the Moon from the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon.
-In astrology, the metal silver is said to represent the moon. The atomic weight of silver is 108.
Sanskrit alphabet: There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti. 54 times 2 is 108.
Geometry: The angle formed by two adjacent lines in a pentagon equals 108 degrees.
1, 0, and 8: Some say that 1 stands for God or higher Truth, 0 stands for emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and 8 stands for infinity or eternity.
Some even believe that 100 repetitions is sufficient and the remaining are said to cover errors or omissions. The 8 are also said to be an offering to God and Guru. While some of these you may write off as coincidence, but its significance in a myriad of different cultures in religions is amazing! A fantastic quote from our friends at Tiny Devotion, “the meaning behind the number is more than one of simply a number but rather one of humility and surrendering to the higher powers of the universe.”
Mala, or Prayer beads, almost always come with one larger bead (the Guru stone) and 108 smaller beads, that are said to rotate like plants around the sun. Malas are a great tool if you are new to meditation because it easily focuses your mind through physical touch and a repetitive, rhythmic intention. First, choose a mantra or affirmation for your meditation. Next, hang the first mala bead gently on the middle or ring finger of your right hand. Place your thumb on the guru bead and begin reciting your mantra. At the end of the mantra push the mala bead away with your thumb and move onto the next bead for another round.
Examples of mantras and affirmations courtesy of our co-founder Silvia Mordini:
I am open to receive love
I am grounded in acceptance
I create my reality
I receive and welcome the intuition of my inner spirit
I recognize the limitless potential of my body, mind, and spirit
The joy of my inner spirit lives in me and is expressed through me
I allow the light to flow through my being, enlightening my spirit
All the answers are within me
More writings from Silvia about Mantras, Affirmations, and Malas:
Photos courtesy of Tiny Devotions