If you have not meditated with a mala before and you would like to try, here are a few brief instructions on how to use your mala.
Hold your mala in your most comfortable or dominant hand. The mala should be held resting on your third finger and the beads "counted" with your thumb. The index finger should not touch the mala as it represents the "ego". And who wants that interfering with our practice! :) (If you would like to see some wonderfully detailed pictures illustrating this click here to visit one of my favorite yoga blogs.)
As you begin your mantra, draw the beads inward with your thumb for each recitation. Keep bringing the beads inward, thus bringing your concentration inward. When you have gone completely around the mala you will come to the center bead or "guru" bead. If you wish to continue and do another full mala, do not cross over the guru, but respectfully flip the mala around and begin again. (If you have a smaller mala such as a 54 or 27 bead mala, also make sure not to cross over the guru.)
Malas are very personal items and may be used as you wish. The instructions above are the way I was introduced to meditating with a mala. I am very grateful to my teacher who has inspired me to work with these wonderful tools!
Some like to wear their malas as sacred jewelry to remind them of their intentions, others keep their mala tucked safely away in a pouch and only use it during their meditation practice. However you use your mala, I hope you enjoy it's benefits!