How to hold your mala
Have you ever wondered if there’s a right way, or indeed wrong way, to hold your mala. In my recent post about how to sit when you meditate I touched on the fact that your mala should never dangle on the floor, but there’s a bit more to how you should hold your mala…
Should you hold your mala in your right or left hand?
Traditionally, in many cultures, the right hand is associated with cleanliness, being used for tasks such as eating. While the left hand is associated with unclean tasks including washing, and even wiping after going to the toilet. In line with that it is traditionally accepted that you should hold your mala in your right hand.
Some predominantly left handed folk ( including myself) really struggle to use their right hand to work with the mala beads smoothly and keep focus on the meditation at the same time and there are 2 important things to bear in mind when thinking about this.
When working with anything from the ancient traditions we should of course strive to be as authentic in what we do as possible, but there is balance in that, as it’s also important to remember that these are not traditions of punishment or retribution, although using your left hand is not the traditional way to hold a mala, if it’s what works for you and aids your meditation process, then go for it.
That said, any spiritual discipline takes discipline, which can regularly involves alot of practice too. Why not try doing short spells with your right hand to begin with, or practice working the beads with your right hand when you’re doing other things that distract you? So that you begin to build up a rhythm, without too much concentration or worry about getting it right.
Which fingers should you hold your mala with?
This where it gets interesting!
When I started meditating with a mala I used to hold the mala between my thumb and forefinger, almost pinching each bead as I went, but this is not the right way to work with mala beads at all.
Traditionally the forefinger is associated with the ego and should never touch your beads. The mala should also not be held firmly while you’re working with it, but instead allowed to flow freely over the fingers.
To work with a mala traditionally you shouldn’t hold the beads at all. Instead the should be laid across the fingers, between the middle finger and ring finger, with the weight of the mala lying on the ring finger. The thumb should then be used to slide the mala, one bead at a time, over the finger. The left hand is then just used to support the weight of the mala at the opposite end to where you are working at the time, slowly allowing the beads to move around as the thumb manoeuvre them at the opposite side.
Which part of the mala should you start with?
Most commonly you should start with the bead at one side of the Guru bead, using the thumb to pull each bead towards you over the finger until you arrive back at the Guru bead. You can either stop there, or work your way back, using the thumb to push each bead back over the finger, until you’re back to the beginning.
Getting it right
When you first start holding your mala beads in this way it can seem odd and clunky, especially if you’ve been holing them differently before, but it’s worth persevering. As you start to bring your practice in line with the yogis and gurus of past generations, powerful shifts can happen, and a deeper flow and awakening can take place within your meditation practice, drawing you deeper in to the mystical power of the mantras and energy of those that have gone before.