When was the last time you saw a Buddhist monk with a mala bracelet? Perhaps you might have seen a meditation instructor or some folks on Instagram flaunting their bohemian attire. No matter what inspired you to visit us, you have landed in the right place.
In the following article, you’re going to explore the untold secrets behind mala beads. You’ll get to know the abilities of mala beads that go far beyond what you generally see through your eyes.
Now you may ask, “how can I wear them?” or “what are the benefits of wearing a mala?”. Maybe, you’re here to learn the right way to meditate with mala beads. Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Now, let’s unleash the journey of the mala bracelet together.
Table of Contents
What Are Mala Beads?
So what is a mala? In short, it is a traditional tool for spiritual practices deeply rooted in the history of Asian cultures. Mala is closely associated with Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. No matter if you have a different faith, mala is for everyone. You can have it for personal wellness or as a part of your lifestyle.
Mala is commonly used in meditation to chant mantras repetitively while counting the beads. You may know that early civilizations used beads to count for transactions or mathematical calculations. But with time, its influence transcended as a discipline in spiritual practices.
Mala beads are made of nature-based materials strung together to form a bracelet. You might have heard folks calling them japamala. This is a Sanskrit term for prayer garland. Besides, people often use the terms meditation beads, rosary beads, mantra bracelets, or many other cultural names.
There are subtle differences in aesthetics between Buddhist mala beads and Catholic rosary beads. No matter what, they’re the same when it comes to praying or setting intentions.
At Space & Vibes believe that mala beads are more of a spiritual significance rather than a religious accessory. Mala beads also symbolize the simplicity of life. Won’t you agree that many of us lack self-consciousness? We live in a world of distractions and it’s easy for the mind to adrift.
But the experience of mala practitioners confirms that counting beads is a means to revive the ancient teachings and bring back simplicity in life. Even in western society, the way people are embracing mala beads for wellness or fashion clearly indicates the value and respect for ancient wisdom.
10 Steps on How to Meditate With a Mala Bracelet
- Hold your mala and spend a moment to appreciate its elegant look.
- Meditation with a mala bracelet basically means to recite mantras as you roll each bead using your fingers.
- It’s okay if you’re unable to keep up with the mantras or counts initially. Don’t worry! It comes with practice.
- Use breathing techniques.
- Make sure you hold them right!
- Use your dominant hand to hold the mala bracelet in a way that the guru bead should face towards you.
- Avoid resting on or touching the index finger.
- Start with the bead placed on top next to the guru bead.
- Once you reach the 108th bead, stop, don’t count the guru bead.
- You may go beyond counting 108 beads if you want to go deeper into the Zen State.
That’s it! Congrats on your first japamala meditation.
Meditating with a mala bracelet is a sacred ritual. Having the right discipline is extremely important to get started with mala meditation. Therefore, if you want to reap the benefits of mala meditation, you should be aware of some proven practices. No, you don’t need to be an experienced practitioner! If you’re a starter, make sure to begin small. You don’t need to sit for hours like monks.
Believe me! All you have to do is spend just 10-15 minutes with mala meditation on a daily basis. In the following section, I will explain the above steps in detail.
Mala Beads Meditation Step by Step Guide
First, hold your mala and spend a moment to appreciate its elegant look. Mala bracelets generally feature 108 beads and this is what most practitioners and spiritual gurus recommend. Your mala also features an extra bead called “guru bead”.
Meditation with a mala bracelet basically means to recite mantras as you roll each bead using your fingers. This is a ritual where you need to chant affirmations or mantras verbally or mentally. But remember that you should repeat the same mantra as you count each bead (i.e 108 times) and avoid any variations in between. So carefully choose your mantra based on your intentions. It’s okay if you’re unable to keep up with the mantras or counts initially. Don’t worry! It comes with practice.
You can use breathing techniques as well. Inhale as you hold the first bead and exhale as you move on to the next. This way, you can sync your bead counts easily with each breathing cycle.
But what does this ritual have to do with meditation?
Repetitive counting has been an age-old practice of bringing in a deep state of attention. It’s so easy, but its benefits are often misunderstood by the modern generation. With each bead, you roll, and each mantra you chant, the mala brings a gentle reminder and keeps you engaged in a loop – as if you’re woven with the mala like a bead.
Avoid resting on or touching the index finger. This is considered an egoistic approach and a barrier against spiritual enlightenment. So keep your index finger away as if pointing to someone and rest your mala on the middle finger.
Start with the bead placed on top next to the guru bead. Use your thumb to pull each bead towards yourself (meaning clockwise if someone sees it sideways) making your way to the adjacent bead. Also, using your long thumbnail to count is also fine. And yes, don’t forget your mantra as you continue with each bead.
Once you reach 108th beads, stop right there! Don’t count the guru beads. It is used to honor the guru or deity you follow. It also marks the end of one cycle of japamala. On completion, hold your guru bead and feel the stillness for a while as you get absorbed in the subtleness of the moment.
You may go beyond counting 108 beads if you want to go deeper into the Zen State. But note that you shouldn’t skip over the guru bead. So you must flip the mala bracelet to the position you started with to repeat another cycle.
That’s it! Congrats on your first japamala meditation.
How Do You Wear Mala Beads? Which Wrist to Wear?
Unlike any jewelry, there are some rules associated with mala beads.
You begin with an intention-setting ritual where you find sacred space and light some candles or incense. Before you start the mala meditation, you’re going to commit to your inner self about why you’re wanting to wear this mala.
Now, while holding mala the right way, you’ll repeat mantras or affirmations for each mala bead. When you’re getting hold of the meditation, feel a connection with your mala as if it’s a part of you.
Pause for a moment and imagine all your wishes and intentions being realized as you’re putting on your mala for the first time. Wearing an intention-infused mala shows the importance of manifesting divine energy. It drives you towards spiritual reality rather than the virtual reality (or materialistic pleasures) that most people are hooked on. The more you meditate wearing a mala, the better you feel the sense of completeness.
If you have recently ordered from Space & Vibes or are planning to order soon, you would probably need to know how to wear mala beads. It’s a traditional custom to wear mala beads as a necklace or on the wrist. But unlike a gold necklace, you don’t have to hide it under your top.
Also, the fact that you don’t necessarily have to wrap a large-sized mala (with 108 beads) around your wrist. If it feels uncomfortable to loop-wrap a mala, you may go for 18, 27, or 54 numbers of beads, whichever suits your wrist.
Wearing mala beads is deeply rooted in the culture of Buddhism and Hinduism. However, there is no such preference for a specific religious background to wear the mala. Anyone with any faith can fulfill their spiritual or creative appeal with mala. It complements you really well when added to your summer fashion. You may even keep it up as a bohemian during your travels – mala on your neck and bracelet on your wrist.
Which Wrist To Wear a Mala Bracelet On?
Traditionally, mala bracelets are believed to be worn on your right wrist. Otherwise, there is no issue wearing it if your left hand is dominant. In Asian and Middle-eastern countries, you’ll find that people consider the left hand inauspicious. They use their right hand for sacred rituals.
Biologically speaking, your dominant hand is stronger and faster in dexterity and syncs well with your body systems. You are then much more productive. And therefore, modern tradition has it that you can wear your bracelet on your dominant hand. Either way, you should be comfortable wearing your bracelet for long hours.
When you use a wrist mala, which is shorter in length (18 or 27 beads), you can feel free to layer with another one depending on how you want to personalize your fashion. If you have a full-length mala (108 beads) or half mala (54 beads), make sure not to loop it too tight or twist the beads too much. On whichever wrist you wear mala bracelets, don’t forget to keep touching them throughout the day that consistently reminds you of your intentions and positivity.
What Are Mala Beads Made Out of?
Generally, mala beads are made out of all-natural materials such as seeds, wood, precious stones, semi-precious stones, and even pearls. It’s a common practice among Tibetan Buddhists to use Bodhi seeds for mala. Bodhi seeds are found under a fig tree, the place where Buddha attained enlightenment.
Rattan seeds are also considered sacred among Tibetans. Rattan beads (called moons and stars) are basically ivory colored and change to golden brown overuse. In Hindu culture, Rudraksha beads are commonly used by the saints or Saivas (devotees of Lord Shiva) for meditation.
As per the scriptures, the seeds are derived from the Elaeocarpus Ganitrus tree which was formed by the teardrops of Lord Shiva’s third eye in compassion for humanity. Rudraksha mala beads are known to hold cosmic properties for healing and protection from misfortune. Coming over to wooden beads, you can find a number of timbers used to make spiritual malas:
- Sandalwood (semi-light brown texture)
- Ebony (black and dark brown)
- Redwood (vibrant red appearance)
- Rosewood (cranberry-like reddish-brown color)
Wooden mala beads come in a richly hued pattern that gives a beautiful natural appearance. Wearing wooden mala strengthens your grounding energy and keeps you spiritually connected to the Earth. Beads made from seeds and wooden timbers are lightweight and cheaper. Anyone can use any of them regardless of their horoscopes or intentions. But when it comes to crystals like precious and semi-precious stones, you have to be quite selective with the type and price that suits you.
You can find malas made of commonly used stones such as quartz, amethyst, agate, obsidian stone, etc. Moreover, you should note that there are tons of such stones and each of them holds chakra-specific properties. For example, rose quartz beads that can heal the issues with the Heart chakra.
People living in the valleys of Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan even use bones extracted from the yaks or oxen to carve out mala beads. Though in many cultures, this may sound unnerving. But it is ethical since the bones are used from dead animals only. It symbolizes our impermanence and how limited our lives are so that we can offer service and compassion to humanity.
What Are The Benefits of Wearing Mala Bracelets?
For dedicated practitioners, wearing mala bracelets offers a host of advantages that help them block worldly suffering and unlock life-changing opportunities. So when your intentions are as pure as the sacredness of mala beads, you can reap many great benefits such as:
Benefits Of Wearing Mala Beads
- Purposeful life: Mala beads can help you reset your life anytime you feel lost and regain the confidence to find your true purpose in life.
- Eagle-eye focus: You’ll tremendously improve your focus and improve your concentration span to reach your goal. If you’re someone who gets easily distracted, a mala bracelet could be the solution.
- Accountability: Counting mala beads can help you build productive habits and make sure you stay managed and keep an account of all important things.
- Tension-free life: Mala bracelets in conjunction with yogic practices can ease your depression and anxiety.
- Medicine-free life: To be honest, mala beads can shut stress pill makers down if everyone realizes the power of japamala. You’ll age in a healthier way and reduce your dependency on medications.
- Physical health: You’ll stay stronger both physically and mentally. You’ll literally feel like your younger self with a healthier heart and blood pressure.
- No grudge: You’ll get rid of anger or feelings of revenge if you have any personal grudge with any person. Feelings of a grudge can destroy you internally and mala can help you suppress such emotions.
- Controls desire: You can get rid of ego and unnecessary worldly desires such as lust and greed. These desires offer temporary pleasures, but bring you only harm.
- Cognitive ability: Mala counting is quite simple yet powerful to maintain brain health and reduce the risks of cognitive impairment or memory ailments. Studies in psychotherapy
- Psychotherapy: The use of mala beads in psychotherapy has proved to be an alternative way to cure acute psychological issues such as disturbing past memories, emotional imbalance, etc.
- Chakra healing: Inherent healing powers within crystal beads can unblock your chakra centers and channel vital life forces throughout your body.
- Mindfulness: Regular meditation with mala beads can help you with spiritual growth, self-awareness, and reach higher states of consciousness.
- Manifest abundance: You’ll attract wealth, career, and relationships that will lead you towards a fulfilling life.
- Feng shui charm: Mala bracelets as room décor helps you set the positive ambiance and good luck charm in your living space.
The Meaning of Mala Beads
A Buddhist mala bead is a spiritual artifact and a means to achieve enlightenment. In Tibetan Buddhism, a mala bracelet is known as “Threngwa” which translates to prayer beads. Besides a shaved head, a Buddhist mala bracelet is the most noticeable insignia of a monk.
Because the mala bead has an ancient spiritual significance that holds blessings of Buddha. Typically, in a Buddhist bracelet, you’ll find 108 beads made from Bodhi seeds, each of which reflects the divinity of Buddha. And so, it deserves your physical attention as counting each of them brings you closer to your sensory awareness.
Monks strongly believe that practicing meditation, pranayama (breath regulation), mandala mudra practice (hand gestures using mala) and yoga with a mala bracelet facilitates the flow of chakra energy even better.
No matter if you’re busy running errands, family responsibilities, or in your professional life, having a mala bracelet means bringing a monastic discipline into your hectic schedule. And in return, it lets you harness your inner energy to lead a successful lifestyle.
Mala Beads Meaning By The Color
While selecting the mala beads, you may want to know how the color of the beads appeals to you. What are those colors that can heal your physical and emotional self? Different colors drive different kinds of forces within your aura. So by understanding the mala beads meaning by color, you can set specific intentions while using them.
- Black Mala Beads: Resembles grounding energy, protection and acts as a detoxifier.
- Blue Mala Beads: Associated with calmness and help in self-reflection.
- Brown Mala Beads: It’s the color of the Earth that represents reliability and honesty.
- Green Mala Beads: It’s the color of mother nature that represents personal growth and healing.
- Orange Mala Beads: Known for vitality, encouragement, and enthusiasm within oneself.
- Pink Mala Beads: Universal color for love, affection, and compassion for others.
- Purple Mala Beads: Symbolizes spirituality, the hidden potential of oneself, and the expansion of the mind.
- Red Mala Beads: Represents energy, passion, and courage towards life’s challenges.
- White Mala Beads: Associated with peace, wholeness, simplicity, and purity.
- Yellow Mala Beads: Reflects creativity, mental activity, and observing things with an open mind.
How Many Beads Should Be on a Mala Bracelet?
There are 108 beads on a typical Buddhist mala bracelet. Now, you might ask if it could have been a perfect 100 or any random number of beads. Why exactly 108 beads? See, there is a spiritual significance behind some numbers. And when you use such numbers along with sacred accessories like a mala bracelet, you attract divine forces.
Think of this number as a universal code to unlock what your life has offered you, but is still hidden from you. Commonly, malas have an extra bead called Guru or Meru bead attached with a decorative tassel. Note that the guru bead symbolizes a tribute to your mentor and shouldn’t be counted as the 109th bead. But this particular bead is a bit larger with a distinctive color or material.
You might have seen a mala practitioner while eyes closed and not observing the beads at all. This shows the number of beads can have such an influence that it develops razor-sharp focus. Isn’t this a wonderful thing to know the number of beads you have been through in your mind’s eye?
Although the use of mala started with 108 beads, spiritual gurus divided them to reckon simplicity in practicing japamala.
In Hinduism, the number 9 is revered as complete and divine. And any multiple of 9 strengthens the auspiciousness of the moment. So it’s completely fine for you to have a mala with 18, 27, 54 beads. They’re nothing different than the traditional 108 beads, but easier to wear if you find wrapping difficult.
Why Malas Have 108 Beads?
Having 108 beads on a mala bracelet indicates spiritual significance deeply rooted in the ancient wisdom of humanity. Don’t look at these digits based on mathematical aspects. Each number carries secret messages that have been withheld for so long. Not everybody knows this – you’re lucky today.
Monks and practitioners say something unexplainable happens when you repeat mala mantras or simply exhale-inhale continuously 108 times. It has to do with the vibrational energy that generates a healing ambiance around you. When used with discipline, you can achieve your long-desired wishes. You’re now going to learn not just one, but many reasons behind the malas having 108 beads.
Let’s go a bit deeper into the mystery behind this number:
- The number 1: It’s a symbol of unity and new beginnings. Based on numerology, people born on the dates of any month such as the 1st, 10th, 19th, and 28th are innately creative and determined beings.
Number 0: It symbolizes eternity or completeness. It’s a divine representation of the almighty who has never been created nor can be destroyed. Our soul is a part of it too.
- The number 8: It visually means infinity – a consistent and never-ending flow of wealth, health, and success. It’s also a loop that indicates the “law of karma”. All good work and intentions will come back to you better.
- The number 9: In numerology, any combination of numbers (1+0+8) that results in 9 signals a connection with the divine source. It indicates that you deserve abundance and the attainment of wisdom.
In Buddhism school, there are 108 types of defilements that are earthly temptations a human must overcome to achieve enlightenment.
In Hinduism, there are 108 known sacred scriptures or “Upanishads”. Also, Hindus believe that there are 108 stages of spiritual development a soul experiences.
In Christianity, there are 54 days and nights right from Soul Day (November 2) to Christmas. This indicates the total 108 transformations of light into darkness and then to the light.
As per ancient Indian knowledge, the distance of the Earth from the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Sun (during September 18-19). Also, the distance of the Earth from the Moon is 108 times the diameter of the Moon (occurs once a month).
You might have heard of seven basic chakras in your body. Though there are 114 energy points in total where you can get worked upon, 108 points are within your physical reach. The remaining 6 energy points can be activated once you reach a higher state of consciousness.
How To Use Buddhist Prayer Beads?
Buddhist prayer beads make great use of Japa mala, ceremonial events, feng shui charm, fashion apparel as well as unique gifting options. Working with prayer beads is a sacred ritual and should be used with respect and humility. The practice demands discipline. Practitioners across the world may have varying sets of rules for mala beads. But at the core, the purpose remains the same – spiritual awakening.
Having received your Buddhist prayer beads gives a sense of excitement as you’re going to wear this wonderful artifact for the first time. Keep in mind, you just can’t unbox and wear them straight away.
Cleanse your mala before using them. Using sage smoke is a traditional way to ward off any contaminated energy upheld within. This works well for wooden, seed-based mala, or crystal-based mala. Also, for crystal mala, there are several cleansing techniques that you must be aware of, check out our complete guide on how to cleanse a chakra bracelet.
Now the most important part – setting intentions. Make sure you surround yourself with an environment that doesn’t invite any disturbance. Activating your mala is as simple as touching each bead. As you go through them, focus on your spiritual intentions.
Imagine the way you want the best out of your life and your loved ones. You may address them for support, guidance, and your true quest for spiritual awakening. You may either recite mantras or affirmations, whichever comes easy to you. But avoid using your pointer finger as you set your intentions. This indicates an egoistic gesture that may subconsciously interrupt your meditation.
Rest on your middle finger instead and use your thumb to roll them. Feel the connection with each of the beads. Let it soak up all the positive vibes that emerge within your aura. By now, you’re all set to use your prayer beads for every occasion. Wear them, carry them and use them in every way to embrace a monastic lifestyle. You may gift this to your loved ones for their well-being. Otherwise, you can keep it as a reminder to someone dearer.
Using Mala Bracelets For Focus
Overwhelmed with all those thoughts wandering inside your head?
Gaining a Zen-like focus is an art and not easy to achieve. But you can develop a discipline using mala bracelets. If this is your first time with a mala bracelet, you can simply perform Samatha meditation. It means using your mala bracelet to sync with a gentle inhale and exhale. Move one bead at every breathing cycle and keep this consistent with the rest of the beads on your mala.
While you remain consistent with your practice, you can certainly develop focus. You won’t believe it, but this simple activity can drag your mind from hundreds of things to just one thing. Over time, you’ll have full control over your consciousness and hence improve your attention span.
Using Mala Bracelets to Benefit From Gemstones and Set Intentions
Using mala bracelets made from gemstones helps you manifest the specific intentions you set within. Gemstones are nature’s gift to us that took millions of years to form. Each of them carries unique energy signatures in the form of vibrations. These vibrations can bring healing benefits to your chakra centers.
So when you use mala bracelets to set intentions, you welcome the cosmic energy to wash over you. For example, using a quartz mala bracelet triggers your third eye or crown chakra. This can help you attune to your inner self and achieve a state of mindfulness. In another instance, you may also use gemstone bracelets as a Feng Shui charm to attract peace, protection, wealth, health, and success.
Using Your Mala Beads For Fashion
Mala beads make a striking presence when used for fashion. You might have noticed some healers with their bohemian style that perfectly defines their personality. Even popular celebrities like classic Julia Roberts and modern diva Vanessa Hudgens love to flaunt their voguish looks with mala beads.
It feels empowering when you wrap the mala several times on your wrist while putting on your contemporary chic outfit.
Whereas, hanging mala beads on your neck makes it nothing less trendy on any occasion. Not only does it act as a stress reliever, but it makes you spiritually sound and a confident woman.
So when it comes to versatility, mala beads complement perfectly with any of your casual fashion. You’re only going to receive appreciation for this elegant accessory. So be prepared!
The Origins of Mala
Mala beads have always been the centerpiece of prayers since the inception of religious practices. In India, the use of mala beads is said to have flourished around the 8th century BC. “Mala” is a Sanskrit word that stands for garland. Whereas, the bead derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon word “bede” which translates to prayer.
Although the origins of mala can be found within the scriptures of Buddhism and Hinduism, the archeological evidence indicates the use of beads as early as 42,000 years ago. Isn’t that wonderful? However, the research has yet to confirm its use in spiritual practices. Moreover, the remains were mostly found to be applicable as decorative wearables.
You can see the history of mala beads deeply rooted in early civilizations such as the Indus Valley (Harappa), Mesopotamian, Egyptian as well as Middle-Eastern civilizations. Initially, beads were used as an asset for trade, art, and craft.
But as the influence of religions grew, mala beads gained a reputation as a ceremonial tool for various practices – for counting meditation, prayers at shrines, Feng Shui amulets, protection charm as well as status symbols. In Christianity, the mala is recognized as “rosary beads” derived from the Latin word “Rosarium” which means rose garden. In Catholic culture, the rose symbolizes perfection.
Rosary beads gained popularity in the medieval European era where devotees used them to count prayers in honor of the life of Jesus and his mother Mary. The significance of mala is apparent in one of Buddhism’s lore. There was a situation of unrest in the kingdom of King Vaidya. So he went to Buddha to seek inspiration for himself and his people. At that moment Buddha guided him to tie 108 bodhi seeds in a circular string and chant a prayer that could eliminate his woes. In Bodhisattva, this is stated as:
Though different cultures define the meaning of the beads differently, their purpose remains the same. There was a time when mala remained confined to monks, historical books, pictures, or museums. But with the rise of spiritual awareness, many western societies are adopting this artifact as a part of fashion and personal wellness. Overall, it’s a positive sign how the history of mala beads crept into the materialistic lifestyle of the current generation.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re one of those who can benefit from a mala bracelet. You’re now open to opportunities for what Buddhist prayer bead bracelets can offer. By now, it’s apparent that mala beads without intention are like relationships without love, money without lifestyle, or a career without success. But when used with a monastic discipline, you can achieve strong focus, remove barriers and pave your way towards enlightenment.
Regular use of Buddhist bead bracelets can bring you unexpected benefits of both physical and mental levels. Whether you use it in meditation or pair it up with your fashion, it’s always nice to have a choice of color or material of mala beads. While wooden or seed malas feel airy, you can make things a little heavier with crystal beads. It’s all up to you!
You also came to know the rich mention of Buddhist prayer bracelets in the history of mankind and how it holds core value in many cultures. And lastly, we unraveled the mystery behind having 108 beads in the Buddhist bead bracelet.
Wasn’t that surprising to know its connection with the cosmos?
So before you own a mala bracelet, just ask yourself, “What is that one thing that I need right now? Maybe a better career, more money, or perhaps better relations!” And the most important question is, “Am I determined to use my mala bracelet intentionally regularly?”
Mala Beads: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is it ok to wear Buddhist prayer beads?
Yes, it’s ok to wear Buddhist prayer beads as long as you believe in yourself and have faith in divinity. But it’s worthless without intention and discipline. Your Buddhist prayer beads also require to be cleansed from time to time.
Is it disrespectful to wear mala beads?
No, it’s absolutely fine to wear mala beads as long as you follow some etiquettes. Mala is a sacred accessory and shouldn’t be treated disrespectfully. It’s wrong when you wear them on your legs. Also, it’s disrespectful when you wear them while sleeping, using the washroom, or doing cleaning work.
Mala bracelet for anxiety?
Mala bracelets can eliminate half of your problems, including anxiety. When you practice japamala meditation, you can gain control of your breathing and mind. Each bead assists you to be on track with your meditation. Eventually, the practice can heal your metaphysical body and help you reduce stress, blood pressure, and improve overall health.