Mala Beads 101


I have been recently inspired to answer the question: What do you do with mala beads?

This past weekend I created a beautiful mala necklace with my friend Nicole. Instead of creating malas for others she prefers to assist you in making your own!! What a lovely idea; so personal and a wonderful touch to your own meditation practice. But what do you do with this gorgeous creation?


How to Use Mala Beads for Meditation

  1. Find a quiet spot and get comfortable. Ideally sit with your spine straight and your eyes closed on a cushion, mat or chair. Take a few deep breaths to relax and center yourself. Focus on your intention (you don’t have to have an intention but this can be a great tool to use during mediation – especially if just starting out).
  2. Have a mantra or word to use. If you have a specific mantra, use it for this practice, chanting aloud or silently. Otherwise, use a word or phrase that resonates with you in this moment.
  3. Each bead is a repetition of your mantra. Have your mala in your right hand, draped between your middle and index fingers. Generally, you start with the guru bead (this is the bead at the end of the mala – in the picture above it is the large ball on my mala), use your thumb to count each smaller bead, pulling it toward you as you recite your mantra or phrase. Do this 108 times. Each bead is a completion of the mantra. Continue along the necklace until once again reach the guru bead.
  4. Repeat. Once you have returned back to the guru bead you have completed your meditation. Or if you wish to continue the meditation, instead of passing over the guru bead, simply reverse direction and begin again.

Using mala beads for meditation is the main use for these gorgeous creations. You can also use them as a reminder of an intention you have set. I like to wear my mala bracelets during the day. I put one on in the morning, knowing I have an intention for each one. During the day as I gaze upon them I have a gentle reminder of what they represent for me. As an example, one of my mala bracelets stands for creativity, as I see it I am reminded to create and be true my sparks of creativity I have. You can decide what your mala stands for, and how you will choose to use it.

Another fun way to use mala beads is to add essential oils to them while you wear them. Lava beads are great for this as they are porous so they “hold” the oil inside them so you can enjoy the scents all day. If you love aromatherapy but if you don’t have the lava beads, any smooth bead works as well, the scent just does not last as long since the oils do rub off on your skin and get absorbed. You can get creative with how you want to use the mala beads.


Mala Beads 101

Why are 108 Beads used on a Mala?

Traditionally, malas have 108 beads. This practice dates back in history to Hindu and Buddhist traditions. 108 is a sacred number. That is why either malas will have 18, 27, 54 or 108 beads.  Several explanations make 108 sacred. One explanation is that there are 108 energy lines (meridians) that connect and converge to the heart chakra.  Another explanation, is that the Sanskrit alphabet has 54 letters. Each letter has a masculine and feminine version, which then totals 108.

Ultimately, the mala is a tool and what makes sense to you is what you can use when you have a mala of your own. How you use that tool is up to you!

If you have more questions let me know in the comments below or get in touch!

– Adelle