Mala Beads

What they are

Mala beads (also known as Japa Malas, Prayer Beads, Buddhist Prayer Beads, Hindu Prayer Beads) are a string of beads or seeds that you can use during meditation. Like rosaries count prayers, Japa meditation with mala beads counts mantras.

A mantra is word of phrase that you can repeat to yourself or out loud. The number 108 may come from the 108 Upanishaps, the 54 + 54 male/femail sanskrit characters or the belief by some that there are 108 energy lines in the body that lead to heart.

Why use them

  • It is a form of meditation that you might find helpful if you find sitting still is a challenge
  • A way to build spiritual practice
  • A path to fufull personal intentions or goals
  • A way to buld the skill of concentration
  • The practice of using mala beads is believed to be auspicious

What they are made of

  • Depending on where your mala beads come from they are either made most commonly fmade from deeds, wood or gemstones. Some mala’s are a combination.
  • Tassel is usually cotton or silk.
    On a physical and tactile level they feel great on your hands.

Which ones to use

  • One you like the look and feel of
  • A set giving to you by a teacher
  • Your birthstone
  • A specific chakra you may want to work on that connects to a colour

How to use them

Japa meditation does have some variations on which hand to hold the malas with, generally it’s suggested we hold them with the right hand with the guru bead and the tassel up.

  • Use them in a seated posture on the floor or in a chair
  • If possible face East or North
  • Close or partially close your eyes
  • Move slowly from bead to bead without a rush and say each mantra clearly silently or outloud
  • Never use your index finger and keep it up and away from the beads.
  • The middle finger is used to rest the mala and thumb is used to count
  • Use your thumb to move the malas towards you one at a time with each repetition
  • The meru or guru bead should not be counted
  • Do a full cycle until you end back at the start
  • Flip the beads ovf three or four phrases as you move each mala.
  • If the mantra part seems out of your comfort level, but you still want to explore using the beads for meditation, you can also use them in conjunction with a breathing practice. You may decide to move the mala beads after every slow inhale and exhale or whatever pattern works. The main thing is to stay focussed.

What to think/feel while using them

  • Repeat a mantra that you have chosen or has been given to you by teacher
  • Mantra means 'mind-protecting' - a rich word or phrase that is implanted within you through repetetion
  • Sink into the feelings you are experiences
  • Try and keep a steady rhythm
  • A simple mantra is OM if you are unsure how to start
  • A gratitude practice as known as the Metta meditation is a beautiful use the mala beads. Consider repeating one one or more of the phrases each time you move the mala bead.



  • Dont put your mala beads on the ground. Store them carefully either on an alter or in a bag. Please pick them up and put them down with care. er on your hand if you want to do another cycle
  • Take your time, try and be present and if your mind wanders you can always go back a few and start again. If you go over 108, there’s no problem. Its about building your concentration and spiritual practice. It doesn’t have to be mala beads. Can be just a stone.
  • If you want to wear your malas it is generally recommended that you first do 40 days of daily practice to infuse them with some healing power. There is no scientific basis for this, so just do this if you believe in them.
  • Experiment and make it yours. These are just some guidelines I found helpful.



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