Mantra meditation (Japa) is a simple, ancient tool to ground you in the present moment. When your mind is racing, repeating a mantra – silently or aloud – can bring you a sense of focus. I recently wrote a blog post on how to create a mantra to deepen your photography practice. You can find it here. Mala beads are beautiful tasseled necklaces that often used in mantra meditation. In this post, I’ll share the benefits of using a mala and how to use them to strengthen your mindful photography practice.
Traditional malas can be worn on the wrist or around the neck and are made of 108 counting beads plus one guru (also referred to as meru or mountain) bead strung together. A tassel is connected to the end of the guru bead to complete the mala. The guru bead is typically larger than the counting beads and serves as a starting and ending point for counting repetitions of the mantra. If you aren’t fond of mantras, you can also count breaths, prayers or intentions during your meditation.
How to Use a Mala:
- Mala beads hang loosely in your hands and are held between the thumb and ring or middle finger.
- Pull one bead at a time towards you as you repeat your mantra. Move from bead to bead, reciting your mantra, until you reach the guru bead.
- Remember, don’t count the guru bead. You can either end your meditation or skip the guru bead and continue counting beads.
Mala beads can be worn around the neck or wrist, so they can effortlessly be carried along with you whenever you go out to shoot. You can remove the mala, place it in your hand, and engage in a walking mala meditation with your camera. This practice helps you replace any lingering negative thoughts with positive ones through your mantra. You can also sync your footsteps or your breath with the movement of each counting bead to slow down, control your respiration and ground yourself in the present moment. Simple repetition of your mantra and the movement of beads helps you focus your thoughts and be present.
I’m excited to share my personal mala practice with you because it’s a simple way to add something new to the way you bring mindfulness into your photography and your life. I purchased the Lotus Seed Full Mala necklace from Japa Mala Beads and I love it! They have an extensive collection of beautiful malas and each one is hand strung by a yogi. The folks at Japa Mala Beads were even kind enough to share a discount code so you can get a savings when you purchase your own mala! Enter zenbehindthelens at checkout to save 10%!
Mindful photography is a practice that takes meditation off the cushion and into our everyday lives. Consider using a mala to bring your awareness to the present moment and experience it fully – one bead at a time.