Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means “union” or “linking.” Meditation is a process of yoga by which the spiritual practitioner achieves union with the Divine. The recommended process of mediation for the age we are currently living in is mantra meditation. This process involves chanting of mantras. Upanishads, or the classical spiritual texts of ancient India, say that the best mantra is the Hare Krishna mantra: hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare/ hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare.
A “mala” is a set of 108 beads strung on a thread, sort of like a rosary. The spiritual practitioner prayerfully and with great concentration recites/chants the whole mantra once for each bead of the mala. The mala, or string of beads, is held in the fist and is meant to help us count how many times we chant the mantra. It also helps engage the sense of touch in the process of meditation. Once we have chanted the mantra 108 times, or once for each bead, we have completed “one round.” Serious practitioners of this spiritual discipline take a vow to chant at least sixteen times around the mala, thus the name “16 Rounds.”