Updated: Aug 15, 2018
I was drawn to mala beads as a tool for meditation. It was VERY difficult for me to sit and meditate when I first started. I remember one day after attempting to meditate for 5 minutes and only making it to 2, I googled “tools for meditation” and mala beads popped up! I was instantly inspired because not only were they exactly what I needed, (I am a kinesthetic learner and always need hands on and visuals) they were beautiful! I ordered my first mala necklace off of Etsy and used it religiously. It made meditation soooo much easier for me because I had something tangible to focus on, breathe into, and was able to let go of what I thought meditation should look like. Since then, I have made mala beads, sold mala beads, and done workshops on mala beads. I am grateful to share this practice with anyone who is interested in learning! So let’s dive in...
What is a mala?
The word mala translates to “garland” and refers to the beads that make up the garland. The beads of a mala hold so much meaning but are essentially used to count mantra recitations and focus your concentration during meditation. Using beads is common in almost every belief system or religion in order to aid in spiritual practice. Some common examples are rosary beads, prayer beads, worry beads, etc. Malas can be worn as a necklace or as a bracelet to remind you of your intention and mantra throughout the day.
How is a mala constructed?
A full mala bead necklace contains 108 beads. 108 is a sacred number which shows up often in mathematics, astrology, time, etc. It is a spiritual number that must be included in the construction of malas. If you create any other type of mala (bracelet, ankle bracelet, keychain, etc.) the number 108 is modified but still referred to. For bracelets, it is common to use 27 beads because 27 times 4 is 108. Malas can have spacer beads, knots, or nothing at all between each bead. It is helpful to use different types of beads (wood vs. semi precious) or spacer beads so that as you meditate and move from bead to bead, you have some idea of where you are during your practice based on the changing textures.
Choosing a mantra:
The mala beads you choose during construction have certain pre programed energies that go along with them. You can use the healing properties associated with the stones or wood beads that you choose in order to find balance or you can create a mantra that will guide you through your mantra meditation. If you are making your own mala, it is helpful to choose a mantra before you begin beading so that you have it in mind as your string the beads. When I create malas for myself, I enjoy making it a meditative project by reciting my mantra as I string each bead. Mantras can be “I am ____” statements or one to two word phrases. You want to be intentional about the mantra you choose and really take some time to reflect on what you would like to manifest more of in your life.
How to use mala beads:
Hold your mala in your left hand. The left hand is known to receive energy while your right hand is known to give energy. Place your thumb and pointer finger around one of the beads and let the bracelet or necklace fall gently on your legs. Say your chosen mantra or take one full breath and then slide to the next bead. Continue doing this until you are back to where you started.
How to care for your mala beads:
Make sure that you take time to cleanse your mala beads often. The beads will hold a lot of positive and negative energy so it is important to clear any backed up energy. To cleanse your mala beads you can use sage smoke, palo santo smoke, moonlight, sunlight, or place your mala in a plant for 24 hours. It is most likely that your mala beads will one day break. This is a beautiful sign that you no longer need the mantra or energy that the mala held for you. It is a time for reflection and rebirth.