Mala Beads are used during meditation to help focus your awareness and to keep count of your mantras or breath. They are commonly made with wood, seed, or gemstone beads and also include a guru bead and a tassel. Mala Beads are made with 108, 54, or 27 beads.
Rooted in Hinduism and Buddhism, Mala Beads date back thousands of years. MALA, from the Sanskrit language of ancient India and Nepal means “garland”. BEAD, from the Anglo-Saxon term BEDE means “to pray”. It has been said that the Buddha told the King (King Haruri), to make a string of beads with seeds and recite a mantra while counting each bead. To focus and pray.
In Hinduism, 108 is the basis of creation, the Universe, and wholeness. There are 108 sacred sites in India, 108 ancient Vedic texts, and 108 sacred life force points in the body. Chanting 108 times represents the spiritual journey. When making a Mala, it has to be made with 108 beads. If not 108, then 54 or 27. 54x2=108, 27x4=108.
A Mala is made up of three key parts:
1. 108 Beads; made of wood, seed, or gemstone beads to pray and chant.
2. Guru Bead; this bead represents our gratitude towards our teachers in life.
3. Tassel; this represents the lotus flower and higher consciousness.
Mala Beads, like Rosaries, are sacred objects and should not be worn for fashion. Most keep their Malas in their pocket or bag, somewhere close. If you want to wear yours around your neck for personal reasons then that’s your choice. Malas represent your spiritual journey.
To use Mala beads first start in a comfortable seat and quiet your mind. Choose your mantra for this meditation (ex: I Am Strong); this is what you will be speaking with each bead. Your mantra can be spoken or repeated in your mind.
Starting at the Guru bead (above the tassel), use your thumb and finger to count each bead pulling towards you. Say your mantra as you reach each bead. Once you go all the way around back to the Guru bead, do not cross it. Instead, reverse your direction and continue with your meditation. It is considered disrespectful to cross over the Guru bead. Continue this process for as long as you need.