Meditation can be quite a tricky practice because the mind is like a naughty child. By its very nature, the mind tends to wander off during the meditation practice. If ones energy is low at the time of meditation, falling asleep can result. If the energy is too high, fantasy and distraction become the barriers. At such times, the mala provides the much needed anchor.
The mala beads are moved in rhythm with the breath and the mantra, so that both-sleep as well as excessive mental distraction-are prevented by this action upon the beads.
For wearing: A personal mala is a wonderful accessory to meditation, which when used regularly with a personal mantra, absorbs the vibrations of the practice. It becomes like a close friend or a comfortable piece of clothing!
How to use
The mala is traditionally held in the right hand and used in two ways -
In one method, the mala is hanging between the thumb and the ring (third) finger. The middle (second) finger is used to rotate the mala by one bead towards oneself with each repetition of the mantra (or chant).
In the other method, the mala is hanging on the middle finger, with the thumb used to rotate the mala just as explained - one bead at a time.
Either way, the index finger is never used to touch the mala. This is because it is believed to be the curse finger (the reason pointing your finger at someone is not nice!).
The mala may coil on the floor with the hand resting on the right knee or used with the hand concealed in a mala bag.
The practice begins at the summit bead (sumeru) and continues around the loop until the summit is reached again. The summit bead is never passed over. So if you plan to do more than 1 round, the mala is turned around to proceed again in the reverse direction.
Whenever the mala is taken up, it automatically conditions the mind to the meditative state.