Mala Beads For Meditation – How To Choose & Use

mala beads

In this guide, we will look at how to choose meditation mala bead for meditation, and how to use them properly.

Here’s what we’ll look at:

  • How To Use mala beads
  • How To Choose Mala Beads
  • Benefits
  • Why there are 108 beads on a mala
  • The meaning and benefits of different gemstones
  • How to make them
  • How to use them for meditation 

How To Choose Mala Beads For Meditation

Meditation malas / yoga beads (also called “Japamala”) are necklaces and bracelets used for meditation.  These traditional Buddhist meditation bead necklaces are so much more than just jewellery. They are one of the essential tools used in meditation.

As well as having a practical use in meditation, malas are also the single most identifiable sign of Buddhist affiliation according to Clark Strand [American author and lecturer on spirituality and religion; former Zen Buddhist monk,].

 Different types of meditation malas have special healing properties based on the particular material of the beads, tassel and the thread. That’s why, if you want to know how to choose mala beads, the first thing to consider is the material the beads are made from. Below, you can find a list of the different types of malas.  

You should also consider the number of beads. 

In the 8th Century BCE, monks started to use “monk beads” to help them count breaths during meditation. Because monks count breaths in cycles of 108, they created the Buddhist “108 bead malas”–one cycle around the necklace representing one cycle of breaths. 

However, today you can also get small wrist malas that typically have 27 beads. So, you will also need to consider whether you prefer a mala necklace or bracelet when you choose mala beads.

Mala beads go by many names

Tibetan malas are traditionally called “moon and stars”. Many retailers prefer to call them “lotus root”, “lotus seed” and “linden nut”. Or you can just call them “yoga beads”.   

The last mala bead, the 109th bead, is called a guru bead. This is a sacred bead that represents the connection between student and teacher and expresses gratitude and appreciation. 

And there is also the tassel.

A big part of the meditation beads’ meaning is based on the tassel. How the different pieces of the string come together to form the tassel is said to represent oneness, like each person on Earth coming together to create one collective unconscious. 


Choosing meditation mala beads based on gemstones

We can’t discuss how to choose mala beads without discuss the material. Here are the meanings and benefits of different gemstones: 

Amazonite: for calm, alleviating fear and anxiety

Amethyst: for peace, stability and calm

Black Onyx: for alignment and connection

Carnelian: for abundance, prosperity and ambition

Calcedony: for stability, harmony and dreams

Citrine: for happiness, strength and though

Clear Quartz: for energy, creativity and clarity

Calmatian Jasper: for determination, strength and friendship

Garnet: for energy, chakras and balance

Green Aventurine: for new beginnings and prosperity

Howlite: for calm and third eye (Ajna chakra)

Lapis Luzuli: for wisdom, intuition and third eye chakra

Moonstone: for intuition, dreams and energy

Obsidian: for protection and grounding

Ocean jasper: for relaxation, self-love and calmness

Pearl: for purity, innocence and imagination

Prehnite: for energy and spirit

Pyrite: for fire energy and vitality

Red jasper: for grounding, balance and healing

Rhodonite: for Yin, Yaang and love

Rose Quartz: for love harmony and heart chakra

Rosewood: for protection and spirituality

Rudraksha seeds: for healing and guidance

Sandalwood: for calm and desire

Smokey Quatz: for grounding and stabilizing

Turqoise: for truth, grounding and protection

White jade: for potential, goals and success

PIN IT!

mala gemstones meaning and uses

Why There Are 108 Meditation Prayer Beads

There is a specific reason why there are 108 meditation prayer beads on a mala.   

1: stands for God

0: stands for nothingness

8: stands for eternity

108 is an auspicious number. It’s the same reason we often do 108 sun salutations in yoga.

  • 108 energy lines converge to form the heart chakra.
  • There are 108 earthly desires
  • There are 108 Upanishads (sacred texts)
  • In astrology, if you multiply the 12 houses by the 9 planets, you get 108
  • The sun is 108 x the diameter of the Earth. And 108x that diameter = the distance between the sun and Earth
  • There are 108 Mukya Shivaganas
  • There are 108 Kleshas in Buddhism (mental states that cloud the mind), according to Buswell, Robert Jr; Lopez and Donald S. Jr. [Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press].

Best meditation mala beads to buy in 2021 

1. MeruBeads  

premium mala necklace GET IT ON AMAZON… >>

  • Good: sustainable produce, excellent customer service, beautiful mala
  • Bad: tassel feels a little loose
  • Choose this mala necklace if: You want a good quality mala that stimulates intelligence and inner peace.

I’d take the word “Premium” with a pinch of salt here given that some meditation mala necklaces cost hundreds of dollars. However, this one is really nice for a relatively cheap mala bead necklace. 

It’s made of Lapis Lazuli and Rudraksha beads. The former stimulates the intellect while the latter enhances relaxation and inner peace. One of the nice touches is that it is produced sustainably, and no trees are lost in production. The mala comes packaged in a cute little cotton carry bag.

 

2. Mala Lapis Lazuli  

mala lapisGET IT ON AMAZON…>>

  • Good: Very high quality
  • Bad: A little expensive
  • Choose this mala necklace if: You like pretty malas that stimulate wisdom.

This is one of the best malas on Amazon. It is a bit pricey, but high quality and reasonably priced compared to some other manufacturers (I have one that cost $350). 

It is a genuine Lapis Lazuli mala.

The meaning of Lapis Lazuli is all about intellect. It goes by the name “Philosopher’s Stone”. No. Nothing to do with Harry Potter. It’s called that because it represents the wisdom of the higher mind.

This meditation prayer beads mala creates a spiritual representation of one’s life.  

 

3. Bali Bali  

balibali mala beads necklace
GET IT ON AMAZON…>>

  • Pros: Great price, charmingly packaged, high quality
  • Cons: Heavy
  • Choose this mala necklace if: You want to boost your compassion and achieve emotional balance.

Rhodonite is the stone of compassion and is known for creating emotional balance, which is precisely what this Buddhist bead necklace does. It is full of positive energy for the heart, which will help with relationship problems.

It can be worn on the neck or wrist and is attractive enough to be worn as decorative jewellery.  The tassel is soft but sturdy, and it is sure to last if you treat it right. The only slight setback about this meditation mala necklace is that it is quite heavy.

 

Buddha Beads Bracelet By COAI

buddha beads bracelet

Good: Beautiful earthy design

Bad: String is a little delicate

Choose this mala bracelet if: You want Buddha beads with a perfect balance of masculine and feminine energy.

This Buddha beads bracelet comes in various choices of stone. The meaning of the Buddha head bracelet is that it reminds us of the supreme power of the universe and to follow Dharma, the wisdom of the Buddha. 

It’s an elegantly designed meditation mala bracelet and looks beautiful. I especially like the beautiful balance between masculine and feminine, which makes it ideal for both men and women. It has small beads, which will look better on a smaller wrist. The colours are deep, and the beads look glorious. For a relatively cheap wrist mala, this is a bargain.

 

Helpful Resources 

Wikipedia Japamala page

Benefits & Uses on Chopra , by Lena Schmidt, Certified Yoga Instructor 

 

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.