How To Use Prayer Beads For Meditation Properly [TUTORIAL]
How To Use Prayer Beads For Meditation Properly [TUTORIAL]

If you are new to meditation you might wonder how to use prayer beads in meditation the right way. 

One of the most beautiful and most popular items worn for meditation and yoga are mala necklaces and bracelets, otherwise called prayer beads.

These prayer beads are far more than just decorative. They are one of the most important tools used in meditation, and there is a right way how to use prayer beads for meditation, as well as a wrong way.

The basics of prayer beads 

So what is a prayer bead? 

They’re essentially an item of jewelry warn to help with meditation. 

Prayer beads contain 108 beads, which are strung together with a piece of thread, and a singular bead called a “guru bead” which is significantly larger than the others. This guru bead is very important because it is the marker that you use to mark the end of the necklace.

As well as the guru bead you may notice that your prayer beads necklace also contains other larger beads, usually spaced on every 27th bead, which is every one quarter of the complete mala. Some malas have these beads actually placed halfway through the mala at the 54th bead.  

So, what is the point in these prayer beads and how do you use malas for meditating?

How To Use Prayer Beads For Meditation

How To Wear Prayer Beads

There is a wrong way and a right way to wear prayer beads.

The easiest way is to simply wear a mala necklace. By wearing a mala around your neck you take advantage of the health benefits of the different stones and crystals on your mala.  

Personally I often like to wear multiple malas at the same time, and this is completely fine. You can layer different prayer bead necklaces to get multiple benefits simultaneously (and to create a fashion style you rock in!).

Try different styles so you find the best way to use mala beads for healing effects.

There are some rules for wearing prayers beads.

  1. Firstly, never let your prayer beads touch the ground. This is said to deplete the healing energy from the mala. If you do accidentally drop your mala on the ground, you should cleanse the mala beads before wearing them again.
  2. Do not let other people touch your mala beads because this can pass negative energy into the beads. If people do touch them, cleanse your prayer beads right away.
  3. The best way to wear wrist malas is to wear them on your right wrist.

So that is how to wear mala beads. Now let’s look at how to use prayer beads in meditation.



How To Use Prayer Beads For Meditation

One of the most popular ways of using malas for meditation is when doing mantra recitation.

When we are doing mantra meditation we are meditating on sacred sounds such as the famous “Om”.

Some mantras, such as Om, are shot and easy to count. Other mantras are very long, such as the Gayatri mantra. Keeping count of these is hard unless you have the proper equipment, i.e. your mala.  

Not only do prayer beads help you to keep count, they also help you to relax and focus on meditation.

When using prayer beads for mantra meditation we count in groups of 108, with one full mantra being 108 recitations (many types of mantra meditation also require us to chant specifically 108 times, so one full mala).

Here is an example of how to use a prayer bead in yoga for meditation

  1. Place the mala at the top of the yoga mat.
  2. Set your intentions. For instance, tell yourself that you are meditating to create inner peace or to send out love (the specific mala you use should match your intent)
  3. Sit comfortably
  4. Take hold of the mala in one hand and let it drop gently.
  5. Touch the guru bead with the other hand
  6. Each time you breathe in and out, move to a new bead of the mala
  7. Keep going until you reach the guru bead (the end bead).
  8. To take this further, choose a mantra to recite, such as OM. Recite the mantra once for each bead on the mala.
  9. Keep going until you reach the guru bead.
  10. Express thanks for the meditation and take a moment to contemplate.


How To Hold And Move Prayer Beads In Meditation

There is a specific way to hold the prayer beads and to move them between your fingers. Like so:

  1. Hold the prayer beads in your dominant hand with the tassel of the mala facing towards you
  2. The first bead (the one you begin on) is the one to the right of the guru bead
  3. Gracefully turn the beads in your fingers (without using your index finger, which is the finger of the ego) as you make your way to the next bead. Preferably turn the beads with your thumb.
  4.  You should hold the mala and the beads in a controlled but gentle way.
  5. Feel the union between your breath and the movement of the prayer beads.  
  6. You will eventually come full circle and will find yourself on the guru bead. This is a time to pause and to reflect. Sit still and express gratitude for your meditation session.

Combining Dorje And Bells With Prayer Beads

There are some types of mantra recitations that require you to recite the mantra very many times, sometimes into the tens of thousands.

Mantras like these can be difficult to keep track of. That’s why it can be beneficial to use a dorje and bell, which are important objects use in Tibetan Buddhist meditation.

These are two short strings that contain ten small beads. These are then attached to your main mala. One of the ends of these pieces of string has the bell attached to it, and the other end has the dorje.

You use the dorje to count complete cycles of the mala. This way you know precisely how many recitations you have done, because you have the full-mantra count (shown by the dorje) plus the bead of the mala that you are currently on.

Once you have moved the dorje up ten beads you then have the bell counter. This counts 1000 recitations.

Between the mala, the dorje and the bell you can count up to 10,000 mantra recitations.

  And That Is How You Use Prayer Beads In Meditation

Prayers beads are one of my favorite meditation tools. They are beautiful. They are healing. And they are helpful. 

You now know the correct way to hold and use prayer beads in meditation. And between the mala, the dorje and the bell, you can count up to 10,000 mantra recitations.

I hope you have fond this article helpful. If you, please share and comment, and if you enjoy my tutorials, remember to subscribe to our newsletter.

Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher and writer. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

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