[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Diana Charabin, founder of Tiny Devotions, a hip, fresh and inspired jewelry company that creates designer mala beads.]
Consistently, every time I use the words “japa” or “mala beads” around non-yogis or those yogis who have not dove into a meditation practice, I get confused and embarrassed faces asking:
“What is a mala bead and what on earth is japa meditation?”
Japa and malas go hand in hand (Literally).
Japa meditation is the active meditation of using mala beads to recite or chant mantras as a spiritual practice. Mantras can either be positive affirmations or Sanskrit chants of the names of God.
Mala beads are meditation necklaces that have been worn for thousands of years in traditions of yoga, meditation, Buddhism and Hinduism for their spiritual and healing qualities. Mala beads are traditionally strung with either 108, 54 or 27 beads (all being auspicious or good luck numbers).
So why use japa as a meditation technique?
This may be obvious for those practitioners who have tried to simply “sit and quiet the mind.” For the majority of people this does not work and “monkey mind” takes over and they start thinking about everything from doing the dishes, taxes and what they are going to eat for lunch.
What makes japa meditation more accessible is that it gives the mind a word to focus on as well as the body an object to touch. This makes the practice of meditation a lot more accessible.
Japa gives us the option to align with whatever we choose – for those seeking calm they can choose a simple mantra like “I am calm,” while devoted yogis can chant to Shiva, the deity of yoga using the Sanskrit: Om namah shivaya , meaning I bow down to Shiva.
[Don’t forget to check out the latest news from Tiny Devotions on facebook and twitter. And if you hurry quick there’s still a few days left to win a free mala from Tiny Devotions over at YogaDork (deadline 17 March 2011).]