How to Use a Mala During Meditation

Malas... they look great adorning the necks of yogis who 'wanderlust', but they have a purpose apart from decorative. So what are malas and what are they used for? 
A mala is a string of beads used for prayer.  Malas are made on the principle of the sacred number 108, so they will have either 108 beads or a divisible of that number: 54 or 27 beads.  They are usually strung on silk thread with knots between each bead to maintain consistent space between each bead.  They also have a Guru bead with a tassel hanging from it.  The tassel is considered the symbol of a thousand lotus petals.
Meditating with a mala combines Naad yoga (the recitation of sacred sounds), acupressure, gemstone therapy and a deep meditative practice.
To use a mala, you hold it in either hand.  Starting just after the Guru bead, you recite a mantra while holding each bead between the thumb and one of the fingers, moving from one bead to the next with each recitation.  You basically drape the mala over the finger, and use the thumb to pull the beads over the finger toward you after each recitation of the mantra.  This makes the bead pass over the intended meridian point.  After you have completed a full circle of your mala, you will feel the Guru bead.  You can make a special prayer with the Guru bead and then begin again, by either switching the hands, turning the mala or just continuing along.
There are acupressure points on each of the fingers that work on different parts of the brain.  When the beads press the meridian points, you can work on a specific result.  The point you are trying to activate is located on the side of each finger, in the centre point between the tip of the finger. and the upper knuckle.
Article by Martine Ford