To consolidate it, if you didn't catch it... the mala is a devotional tool. It is similar to the Rosary, as there are 108 beads, arranged in a strand, and are an opportunity to create devotional space for the meditator, the chanter, the prayer.
The Rosary is named after the latin word, Rosarium, which means 'rose garden' or 'garland of roses'. Thus, in the way that a garden is carefully, artfully and symettrically laid out and pleasing to the senses, with many little stops along the way for reflection, so is the rosary, so is the mala.
When doing the chants, or the mantras, or the prayers, each bead is one individual moment. They are connected on the strand, and the whole makes more than the individual - yet each individual bead, each moment, each reflection, is still greater than the whole.
That's the beauty of what we call 'jaap' - or 'repetition of devotion', moving through the same actions, over and over, to create devotional space.
If we think of it as a garden, and the mala or rosary the path, then maybe the message is that each bead is a rose, and our most devotional action is to give that rose our full attention. To, as we coin the phrase - to stop and smell the roses.
Sounds glorious, doesn't it? But, the garden is full of hazards and hidden nuisances... You don't get a strong plant without fertile dirt... and dirt full of crawling and creeping creatures. You can't enjoy the dappled sunlight without the shade, and most every blossom on the rose bush has a thorn.
Are you prepared for the prick? As you deeply inhale, dive down into the bloom, sip in the fragrance as you stop and smell that rose - what's to come of it when your lip finds the thorn? Will you still be able to see the beauty and the necessity of both the bloom and the barb?
Don't stop smelling roses, keep on the devotional stroll and take the time to notice. Walk barefoot and let your toes wiggle in the cool and damp earth. Go boldly in the sun and the shade; notice the blooms and the boons.
Smell the roses, even if that means getting dirty and a prick here and there - and, give thanks and praise!