Meditation malas (Buddhist prayer beads or garland) are one of the absolute most important products for meditators. (The fact that they look stylish is just a little bonus).
Called Japa in Sanskrit, meditation malas are gemstones necklaces or bracelets that come in various sizes, from wrist malas (18 or 27 beads) to full length malas, which are 108 beads long.
The beads go by many names. Tibetan Buddhists call them “moon and stars”. And some retailers call them “lotus root”, “lotus seed” and “linden nut”.
These beads are used for meditation to count the breath, or when reciting mantras.
The beads are made of various gemstones, each of which has different spiritual properties (see below).
The last bead is called a guru bead. This is a sacred bead that is used to represent the connection between student and teacher, and to express gratitude and appreciation.
And there is also the tassel. The way in which 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.
Why there are 108 beads on a mala.
The actual number 108 is important because:
1: stands for God
0: stands for nothingness
8: stands for eternity
108 is an auspicious number. It’s the same reason why we often do 108 sun salutations in yoga.
- There are 108 Mukya Shivaganas
- There are 108 energy lines that 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
The meaning of different mala 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, charkras 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 proteciton and spirituality
Rudraksha seeds: for healing and guidance
Sandalwood: for calm and desire
Smokey Quatz: for grounding and stabilizing
Turqoise: for truth, grounding and proetction
White jade: for potential, goals and success
DIY Mala Beads: How To Make Your Own Mala
Have you ever tried to make your own mala beads and bracelets? It’s such a wonderfully relaxing activity, and you end up with a beautiful mala.
Making your own mala takes several hours. And it definitely requires patience. But it’s a wonderful, joyous hobby that I highly recommend.
Simply go to your favourite bead store and pick out the beads you would like to use for your mala. Personally I chose to use coral because I love the feel of it and it reminds me of the water.
Once you’ve got your beads, go home, put on some beautiful meditation music and get out all the items you will need to make your mala.
Then set to it. Gradually. This is a time when you should feel a deep state of Zen within you. Crafting your own mala is a patient and relaxing activity. And it’s really not about the mala that you make, it’s about the way you feel while you’re making it.
Make your mala slowly, and really enjoy the experience. You’re going to find this a wonderfully relaxing activity that will boost your happiness and make you feel a deep sense of self love.
This is a beautiful process and it makes for an excellent gift.
Veronica Krestow has a brilliant video tutorial on how to make your own mala beads and bracelets. I’ve shared it on the next page.
Still got your heart set on buying a mala instead? Here’s my pick of the best of them.
The Best Meditation Malas
Tibetan Sandalwood Mala
If you’re looking for a mala on the cheaper side you can’t go wrong with this Tibetan Sandalwood mala. It’s supposed to be a green sandalwood that smells like incense. However, given the price this mala is actually not sandalwood and is a substitute instead (sandalwood is expensive, any mala made of genuine sandalwood will be a minimum of $40). That said, this is still a great mala (62 5 star reviews on Amazon cant be wrong, right?). So, for a mala on the cheaper side that looks good, this is your best bet.
Mala Lapis Lazuli
This is a genuine Lapis Lazuli mala. The stone itself is often called the “Philosopher’s Stone” because it represents the wisdom of the higher mind. This mala creates a spiritual representation of one’s life. It is a beautiful blue color and is very finely made. One of the best malas you’ll find.
Genuine Tiger Eye Mala
Tiger Eye is a protective stone. Tiger Eye malas are usually warn to ward off negative energy and evil spirits. It can also be warn in a more practical sense to help eliminate negative thinking, depression and even addictions (which are essentially harmful mental habits). This genuine Tiger Eye Mala is built very well and looks beautiful. Highly recommended.
Jade Stone Prayer Necklace
If you’re looking for a colourful mala that looks upbeat and is packed full of positive energy, then this Jade Stone Prayer Necklace is perfect for you. Jade Stone is a sacred stone and is worn for serenity, balance and spiritual development. It also opens the heart chakra and welcomes love into one’s life. Not for everyone given its very bright and colourful design, but if you’re into a bit of jazziness then this is a great mala.
In my opinion, these are the very best meditation malas to buy.
How To Use Your Mala
So now you have a meditation mala, how do you use it?
- Hold your mala in your right hand
- Count by moving your thumb onto a bead. Count either each in-breath or each repetition of a mantra of Japa.
- Gently pull the bead towards you
- Move on to the next bead
- The mountain bead or guru bead (the large bead) is used to mark the beginning and ending of the meditation period
- If you are using a wrist mala (which has 27 beads) repeat 4 full cycles to do a full mala (27 x 4 = 108)
- After you have meditated with your mala for around a month (meditating once a day) your mala will be empowered with energy. You can then wear the mala to feel the energy.
How To Cleanse Mala Beads
It is important to cleanse mala beads so that they carry the right energy for your meditations.
Traditionally there is no prescribed time for when mala beads must be cleansed. It is all about getting in touch with your intuition. Do you feel that your mala beads need to be cleansed? There will be an observable energy in your being that tells you when it is time.
The longer you wear your mala beads the more the energy of the beads will be affected by the frequencies of other people.
Feel your mala beads. Ask yourself: are they creating the right energy? If not, it’s time to cleanse your mala beads.
Here’s how to cleanse mala beads.
- Sit outside and place your mala beads in the light of the sun or moon. The energy of the light will help to remove negative energy from the mala. It is a purifying process.
- Place your mala on the ground and burn dried white sage near it so that the smoke rolls over the mala.
- While the mala is being cleansed chant OM for 108 recitations.
- Wash the mala with seat-salt-water. For best result, wash it in the ocean.