Mala Beads

Mala Beads, also known as prayer beads, are part of ancient Buddhist and Hindu tradition, dating back as far as the 10th energy. They can be used for the simple recitation of prayers during meditation, or to help reinforce positive mantras that promote personal growth and transcendence.

Mala beads are strung and formed into a loop and often have a tassel at the end. The strands that hold malas together symbolize the thread that connects all life. Malas are commonly made with 108 beads to correspond with Buddhist teachings. In traditional Buddhism, the 108 worldly sins (kleshas), are derived from the six senses multiplied by 3 reactions (positive, negative, indifferent). These compose 18 feelings that can be attached or detached from pleasure to form the 36 “passions”. The passions can be manifest in the past, present or future – leading to a total of 108.

Mantras are repeated hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of times. Moving the beads through the fingers allows the user focus their energy on the meaning of the mantra itself, rather than on counting the repetitions. The beads are held between the fingers and thumb and the thumb is moved over each bead as the mantra is repeated.

Choosing Mala Beads

Malas are made from a variety of materials, including semi-precious stones, spices, woods, metals and the bark from the sacred Bodhi tree. Every material has different properties that can also be imparted to the beads, enhancing the power of your mantras or prayers. For example, if you wanted to focus on being more compassionate with others and opening your heart; you might choose a set of beads made from Rose Quartz, since that stone amplifies those qualities.

You can choose large strands with the full 108 beads, or smaller strands with 27 or 36 beads for shorter meditations. Some are even available in bracelet form.

Whatever style of beads you choose, it is important to remember that most Mala beads require great skill to produce. Each bead is like an individual work of art. Great care and respect should be shown to them.

How to Use Mala Beads

Chanting or praying with Mala beads is believed to purify the mind and soul, clearing away karma and mental or emotional disturbances. Choose a quiet location free from outside distractions. Reflect for a moment on the prayer or mantra you want to use. When clear intent has been established, sit comfortably in a cross legged position, close your eyes and focus on the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe.

After a few cleansing breaths it’s time to begin reciting your mantras. Start with the large bead called the guru bead. Place the bead on top of your index or second finger with your thumb on top. As you recite your mantra, rub the thumb over each bead in a clockwise motion. When you finish, push the bead up with your thumb and move on to the next one.

When you are finished with your meditation; sit quietly for another moment before opening your eyes and allow the experience to sink in.