How To Use Meditation Mala Beads

A mala is a string with beads, also known as prayer beads. In a sense, it is similar to a rosary.

A japa mala is made on the basis of the number 108, which is considered to be a sacred number. These malas will either have 108 beads or a number that is divisible by it, that is, 27 or 54 beads.


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The thread that is used to string the beads is usually silk, with knots between the beads so that a consistent space is maintained between the beads. A gurubead is also present with a tassel. The tassel symbolizes a thousand lotus petals.

Mala and mediation

A mala is an excellent tool to use during your meditation sessions. Using a mala can help you focus during meditation, and its unique properties help to make your meditation more powerful. Meditation can be quite challenging because the mind usually tends to wander off during practice. If the energy level is low during meditation, it is easy to even fall off to sleep. If the energy level is too high, then distractions and fantasies can become a barrier. Therefore, during meditation, a mala can help bring about an attentive mind that neither wanders nor goes to sleep by following the mantra and breathing patterns.

Japa mala beads

A japa mala is used by the Hindus and Buddhists, which usually also has a merubead or gurubead. The merubead is the main bead in the mala. The merubead is not included while counting like the other beads. However, in certain sects, the number of beads will differ. For example, there are only 32 beads in the Shaiva sect. However, as mentioned earlier, the number of japa mala beads is usually 108. Japa mala beads are made of vegetable seeds, marble, silver, gold, or sandalwood.  Mala prayer beads are regarded to have psychological and metaphysical effects on the ones who use them. While the meditation beads are counted, mantras are sometimes simultaneously chanted. Mantras are essentially Sanskrit chants that have the power to fulfill desires, promote healing, and transform consciousness.

How do you use a mala?

The steps given below will direct you on how to use a mala.

  1. Before beginning any meditation practice, ensure that you are wearing comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and are in a quiet and relaxed environment. Find a spot to sit down and stay relaxed. In order to clear your mind of all thoughts, try to focus on your breathing. You can also chant a mantra if your style of meditation requires one.
  2. Next, hold your ring, little and middle fingers against your palm and extend your index finger. Let your thumb rest on your middle finger.
  3. Let your mala hang around your fingers, but make sure that your index finger does not touch the beads.

    Your ring finger or the middle finger can be used as the main anchor on which you hang the mala.
  4. The mala beads can rest on the floor or in your lap, but there should be no obstruction to the movement of the beads.
  5. Start with the merubead at the top. This bead will usually have a larger size or different color. Your thumb should guide each bead to a spot between the ring finger and middle finger.
  6. Keep counting the beads till you come to the merubead again. If you want to continue counting the beads, you should start again in the opposite direction.
  7. Go through the beads one at a time with each repetition of a mantra or the drawing of a breath.

Why use a mala?

Although using a mala while meditating is usually associated with maintaining focus of the mind and keeping away distractions there are other reasons as to why one should use a mala. Meditating with a mala combines gemstone therapy, acupressure, and Naad yoga, which is the chanting of sacred sounds.

Types of japa malas

Materials of different kinds are used to make the beads of a japa mala. Each material has a particular property that affects the subconscious mind of the user. Some of the types of japa malas used include the following:

  • Tulsi wood mala
  • Crystal mala
  • Lotus mala
  • Rudraksha mala
  • Navgraha mala
  • Sandalwood mala
  • Rosewood mala
  • Bodhiseed mala
  • Parad mala

How do you use meditation beads?

There are some tips you could follow on how to use the meditation beads and maintain them.

  • You should avoid keeping the malas on the ground. If you drop the mala accidently, you should clean it and chant a mantra or say a prayer.
  • Store the malas in a safe place and avoid keeping it in your pocket as the cord could break.
  • Avoid wearing the malas while bathing as the cord could get damaged and break.

For details on how to actively use it during mediation, refer to the section above.

How do you make mala beads?

You can follow the steps given below on how to make mala beads:

  1. On one end of a string you should make a knot, which will act as a base for the mala. The mala beads will go till the end so leave sufficient extra string at the mala’s end.
  2. The merubead or gurubead, which is the largest bead, should be put on the mala first.
  3. Add 27 regular beads on the mala and then a counter bead.
  4. Add 27 beads more and another counter bead. Do this two more times so that the number of regular beads comes to a total of 108.
  5. The two strings of the mala should be tied together, and you can then put a tassel at the end.
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