From the yoga studio to a night on the town, people are wearing mala necklaces around the globe. This trend is not just for beauty and cosmetic reasons, it’s steeped in meaningful tradition and symbolism.
Each mala necklace has 108 beads, and each bead evokes an energetic frequency based on its material, whether stone or seed.
Image: from Why Does Your Mala Necklace Have 108 Beads?
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 108?
The number 108 is a scared number in nearly every religion and across many different cultures and disciplines.
Hindu prayer mala’s are made of 108 beads (and usually a larger guru bead). There are 108 names of God and 108 chakras. Earth, sun and moon are also linked to the Holy 108. This number informs the architecture of sacred texts that are central to yoga and eastern philosophy. As a devoted scholar of yoga and tantra, Shiva Rea explains in Tending the Heart Fire, ‘there are 108 chapters of the Rig Veda, 108 Upanishads and 108 primary Tantras.’ And these texts are written in Sanskrit, a language comprising 54 letters, each with a masculine (Shiva) and feminine (Shakti) form, 54 x 2 = 108. Listed below are just a few of the many relationships that carry this number.
Theology and Culture
108 beads on prayer mala
108 repetitions of a mantra
108 types of meditation
108 paths to God
108 names for Hindu Deities
108 dance forms in Indian traditions
108 time frame in Rosicrucian cycles
108 times the bell is chimed in Buddhist temples in Japan to finish the old year and welcome in the new one.
108 gopis of Vrindavan in the Gaudiya Vaishnavism
108 defilements in some schools of Buddhism
108 earthly temptations
108 beads on a juzu (prayer beads) worn by Zen priests
108 questions for Buddha in the Lankavatra
108 previous incarnations remembered in modern Gnosticism
108 chances or lifetimes to rid the ego and transcend the materialistic world
108 earthly desires/lies/delusions in Buddhism
108 is maximum number of repetitions in Kriya Yoga
108 Sun Salutations in yoga
108 breaths in a day reaches enlightenment in meditation
108 energy lines or nadis converging to form the heart chakra
108 sacred books in the holy writings of Tibet
108 epistemological doctrines in Hinduism tradition
108 virtues in Jain tradition
108 steps in temples mentioned in the Lankavatara Sutra
108 sins or 108 delusions of the mind in Tibetan Buddhism
108 pressure points in body according to Marma Adi and Ayurveda
Mathematically and Geometrically
- 108 is a Harshad number (1+0+8=9) / 108 is divisible by 9
- 108 pattern in reduced fibonacci numbers
- 366 days in sidereal year; 3x6x6 = 108
- 1 squared plus 2 squared plus 3 squared equals 108
- 108° degrees on inner angles of a pentagon
Interestingly more than two-thirds of the worlds population use worry or prayer beads as part of their spiritual or meditative practises SOURCE
How to Use Mala Beads for Meditation SOURCE
Using a mala is simple, easy, and enjoyable. Follow these 8 steps to get started:
- Clarify the intention of your practice and choose your mantra or affirmation.
- Find a comfortable space and sit quietly in a cross-legged position.
- Close your eyes and observe the speed and your natural deep breaths.
- Begin to breathe deeply and bring your focus and attention to your mantra or affirmation.
- Hang the first mala bead gently on the middle finger 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. Continue until you reach a count on 7, 21, 27, or 108.
- If you wish to do another round of mantras or affirmations, do not skip over the guru bead. Instead, turn the mala around and reverse direction.