Eat, pray, love

When you’re traveling in India — especially through holy sites and Ashrams — you see a lot
of people wearing beads around their necks. You also see a lot of old photographs of naked,
skinny and intimidating Yogis (or sometimes even plump, kindly and radiant Yogis) wearing
beads, too. These strings of beads are called japa malas. They have been used in India for
centuries to assist devout Hindus and Buddhists in staying focused during prayerful meditation.
The necklace is held in one hand and fingered in a circle — one bead touched for every
repetition of mantra. When the medieval Crusaders drove East for the holy wars, they witnessed
worshippers praying with these japa malas, admired the technique, and brought the
idea home to Europe as rosary.