The Malas are a prayer and meditation tool, used by yogis to help with mindfulness, that look similar to a Catholic Rosary. These strands of beads generally consist of 108 beads. As best I can tell, the number 108 has profound significance, and is meant to remind the practitioner of her true nature as the God self. The 1 is for the oneness of life. The 0 represents nothingness, and the 8 is for infinity. The Malas help us find our way to God.
There are many ways to pray/meditate the malas, but most often the use of a mantra is utilized. A mantra is a repetition of a prayer or phrase. Often one hears the term Japas Malas. Japas means the name of God (whatever that name is for you). So to pray japas malas is to repeat the name(s) of God over and over again with the “goal” being to remember and praise God, but also to remember that you, the practitioner, are God.
My new favorite mantra to use while meditating on my malas is, “I love you.” For each of the 108 beads, I say, “I love you” to something, someone, a color, a place, a memory, a future hope; I say I love you to everything and nothing and everything in between. First I start with myself, and I remind myself that I love the me who is strong. I love the me who works hard. I love the me who laughs freely and often. I love the me who sometimes gets sad for no reason. I love the me that brushes his teeth, and I love the me that drinks too much coffee. After I acknowledge the different ways I love myself, I go on to my family and friends, and then I just love everything that comes into my mind. I usually even remember to tell the color blue how much I love it. For each bead I take a long breath, breathing into my belly and chest and back out again, I say I love you _______, and I try to feel the love too.
The whole exercise takes about 20 minutes, but it has been a great way to remind myself of how wonderful my life is. It’s a way to pause, reflect on, and pay homage to the things that really make life important. This has also been a wonderful way to practice gratitude and alleviate anxiety. Even if doing 108 I love yous is too much, take time today to do ten or twenty. You will be amazed at how wonderful it makes you feel, and you will remember how much light is in your life.
I love you.