“Mala Beads” is the term people use for a length of 18, 27, 54 or 108 strung beads, used to keep count when reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra. Traditionally, malas are made with 108 beads.
How to use Mala Beads
Mala beads are simple and easy to use. Before your meditation you decide on a mantra or chant to repeat. You can also make a decision just to take a deep breath for each bead. Get comfortable in your meditation pose with your fingers placed on the Guru bead (the larger bead at the center of the string). You start by chanting once and then gently moving on to the next bead. For every chant you move down one bead until you get all the way around. Once you reach the Guru bead, you may be done, or you may decide to continue on. If you decide to continue, do not skip past the Guru bead, instead, you turn the string around and return the way you came.
Why 108 beads?
Well, I have no simple answer. I thought in the beginning that it allowed you some room for mistakes if you were doing 100 mantras. That way, if you accidentally skipped a few beads, then 8 extra would make up for it. Turns out there are tons of possible answers. This page has a list of them, from there being 108 earthly desires in mortals, 108 human delusions, 108 lies that humans tell, to the explanation that the human soul or center goes through 108 stages on the journey.
What are they made from?
Mala Beads traditionally were made from Rudraksha beads, lotus seed beads, yak bone, Bodhi seeds, or wood. Healing malas are made from gemstones, which have different energies, properties, and colors. Many malas are made from black onyx, turquoise, rose quartz, or jade. I tend to look at Mala Beads as a tool. When choosing Mala Beads, you can go the traditional route, you could buy a string of beads based on what your goal of meditation is (healing or relaxation) or you could simply look around and choose something that speaks to you. I have personally used a Sandalwood Mala that appealed to me because of the fragrance of the wood and I currently use a Rudraksha mala that I love for it’s bumpy surface.
I have made Mala Beads from traditional materials, but I believe that they are a tool and should help you get centered, track your mantras and keep you focused on the present. So I have also used non-traditional beads to make a mala, including skull beads, crystals and zebra striped beads. I have found that that the whimsy of these malas make me smile and to not take life so seriously.
Do you use Mala Beads? What are yours made from? Do you chant, or repeat
My handmade Skull Mala Beads– these are particularly amazing, and, what’s that? They’re for sale! Get ’em now, there’s only one in stock right now!