01 April 2012

Prayer Beads

Prayer beads are used by members of religious tradition to count the repetitions of prayers, chants or mantras. They may have physical, metaphysical and psychological effects on the users. Traditionally, prayer beads are tools used to count the number of times a chant is recited during meditation. They may be made of different materials but those made of crystals are most revered since ancient times. This is because it is believed that the vibration from the crystals is able to enhance the clarity of mind during prayers or meditation and thus brings about wellness for the body, mind and soul.

The number of beads varies depending on different religions. Islamic prayer beads called “Tasbih” have either 33 or 99 beads while Buddhists and Hindus use the “Japa Mala” which is usually 108 beads, or 27 which are counted four times. The Roman Catholics use “Rosary” which originates from the Latin word meaning Rose Garden or Garland of Roses.

The Rosary is a traditional Catholic devotion tool for prayers. The term denotes to the prayer beads used to count the series of prayers that make up a rosary prayer. The praying of each decade is accompanied by meditation on one of the ‘Mysteries of the Rosary’, which recalls the life of Jesus Christ. The rosary prayers consist of repeated sequences of the Lord's Prayer followed by ten praying of the ‘Hail Mary’ and a single praying of "Glory Be to the Father" and sometimes accompanied by a Fatima Prayer; each of these sequences is known as a decade.

How to Pray the Rosary : - 

  1. Make the Sign of the Cross and say the "Apostles' Creed."
  2. Say the "Our Father."
  3. Say three "Hail Marys."
  4. Say the "Glory be to the Father."
  5. Announce the First Mystery; then say the "Our Father."
  6. Say ten "Hail Marys," while meditating on the Mystery.
  7. Say the "Glory be to the Father."
  8. Repeat this sequence 2 to 7 and continue till the Fifth Mysteries in the same manner.

    After the Rosary:
    HAIL, HOLY QUEEN, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!
    V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God.
    R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
    Let us pray. O GOD, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

    After each decade say the following prayer requested by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima: "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy."
As suggested by the Pope John Paul II the Joyful mysteries are said on Monday and Saturday, the Luminous on Thursday, the Sorrowful on Tuesday and Friday, and the Glorious on Wednesday and Sunday (with this exception: Sundays of Christmas season - The Joyful; Sundays of Lent - Sorrowful)

In Buddhism, prayers beads are called Mala. They are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting or mentally repeating a mantra or a name of a Deity. Mantras are normally repeated hundreds of times and the mala is used so that one can focus on the meaning or sound of the mantra. The Mala beads are moved in rhythm with the breath and the mantra, so that both sleep and excessive mental distraction can be prevented by this action. In this way, it automatically conditions the mind to a meditative state.

How to Pray with your Mala Beads

The mala is traditionally held in the right hand :
  • Hold the mala on the middle finger, between the tip and the first knuckle and use the thumb to rotate the mala, one bead at a time towards you. Your index finger should not touch the mala
  • The mala may coil on the floor with the hand resting on the right knee or used with the both hands holding it
The practice begins at the sumeru, the larger bead and continues around the loop until the sumeru is reached again. The sumeru bead is never passed over. So if you plan to do more than 1 round, turn the mala around and proceed in the reverse direction.

Happy Chanting!!

Contributed by New Age FSG Team

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