About Mala Beads
Mala beads - also known as yoga beads, japa malas or simply a mala - are necklaces that usually have 108 beads and have their origin as prayer beads. Mala, Sanskrit for “garland,” is often used to enhance spiritual practice.
Today, mala beads are used as a mindfulness aid without any religious affiliation. They are well loved by Yogis and people who practice meditation.
Here’s what to know about using mala beads and how they can be your helper and companion.
Mala Beads: What Are They?
Mala beads have been around for thousands of years, created in India over 3,000 years ago. They are rooted in Hinduism and Buddhism and are meant to help you focus your mind during meditation. Originally for the 108 beads seeds of the Bodhi tree were used. Today you'll often see crystals and gemstones.
Mala beads traditionally have 108 beads. The number 108 is considered a sacred number in Hinduism, Buddhism and yogic tradition. Malas come in a string of 108 and are used for devotional meditation, mantra and prayer. With each bead a mantra or prayer is repeated to meet a total of 108. You can also repeat the same mantra for 108 times - there is hardly a wrong or right when it comes to your very personal mala practice.
The number 108 is also described as the numerical equivalent of “Om,” one of the most important spiritual sounds in meditation. Also, the relationship between your inner and outer environment is described by the 108 beads.
Pros of Mala Beads for Your Mental Health
Mala beads can help you with different aspects of meditation, which is
But meditation isn’t always easy. Many people find it hard, especially in the beginning, to keep their mind from wandering off. That’s where mala beads come into play.
Using the 108 beads to count your mantra(s) helps you focus, control your breath, and improve your attention. Beginners can use mala beads as tools to start practicing meditation and to stay more focused.
Repeating a mantra
As mentioned earlier you can choose your own mantra to work with or just get inspired by the yoga world. A mantra is a phrase, word, or sound you can use to help focus your awareness during meditation. “Om” is a common one, but there are countless others.
I personally enjoy mala meditation the most with 108 different mantras such as “I am calm”, “I am on the right path” or “I am loved”. The mantra you repeat can always vary depending on your current situation.
To use mala beads with a mantra:
- Hold your mala with one hand.
- Let it drape across your fingers so you can move it easily. Place two fingers around one of the beads next to the beginning and end of your mala. Many people use their thumb and middle finger, as some religious traditions avoid using the index finger which symbolises the ego.
- Say, whisper or mentally repeat one mantra.
- Move your fingers to the next bead, repeating one mantra per bead.
- Finish with the last bead of your circle to complete 108 mantras.
- If you want to do another round, just move your fingers in the opposite direction until you reach the beginning and end again.
Malas come in a wide range of styles and colours. The beads themselves can be made from seeds, crystals or gemstones, wood, or other materials.
Since you’ll use the mala to promote your personal calm and relaxation, it’s important to choose a material and style that feels good for you. There’s no right or wrong choice here, but as a small hint I'd always suggest not to choose after colour but more so after the healing properties of the different crystals.
Often the mala will choose you, so be mindful which one is speaking to you.
How many malas do I need?
You can have different mala beads which accompany you in different areas and topics in your life. Most likely the one that symbolises abundance and financial freedom for you won't be the one you use to heal your inner child.
If you wish your very personal mala beads, unique and just made for you, I do offer a mala consultation where we deep dive together into your personal topic you'd like to work on with your mala beads and which crystals can help you with it.
Starting mindfulness early with mala beads and meditation can have lasting impacts later in life. Mala beads are a great supplement on your journey to a higher self.