HOW TO MEDITATE WITH A MALA
Meditating with a mala gives you a specific starting point and an end point for your meditation. Traditionally you would handle each counter bed with your thumb and your middle finger, but if using your index finger makes it easier for you, by all means find the most comfortable way, what feels natural for you personally.
Choose a mantra or an affirmation to repeat mindfully at each counter bead (below are some suggestions). Begin from the counter bead nearest to the 'guru' bead which is the large decorative stone or crystal tassel. The larger divider beads at 27 bead intervals are meant for a pause, a silent meditation. When you come to the end of the 108 counter beads, you may choose to end there or carry on for longer. Traditionally the 'guru' bead is never crossed over, so when you come to the end, you would return the way you've just come from, back to the bead you started from.
If you're working on any specific issue in your life, create an affirmation to support it in your meditation, such as 'All is well', 'I am at peace', 'I honour my truth', 'I am grateful' or similar, to repeat at each mala bead. Or you can choose mantras such as 'Om Mani Padme Hum' for compassion, 'Om Benza Sato Hung' for purification, 'Om Shanti' for peace... You might like to find a mantra from any world tradition that resonates with your particular moment, perhaps the Hindu mantra 'Om Namah Shivaya' which could be translated as "I honor that which I am capable of becoming."
There are many, many explanations as to the significance of number 108, the amount of counter beads in a mala. In one of my own favourites 108 is said to represent the universe as one thing (1), nothing (0) and everything (8 as infinity).
I wish you peaceful, restorative, insightful meditative moments!