Mala beads are beads used in meditation. It is also called prayer beads. It is a set of
beads used traditionally in Buddhist and Hindu religions for centuries. It is a
108-bead set used during meditations to keep count of the mantras, words
chanted either aloud or silently to invoke spirituality. Other beads have
markers on the 7th and the 21st so that the beads can be
used for shorter mantras. There is also a 28-bead version, which is a wrist
mala, which needs to be repeated thrice.
To begin with the mediation using the beads, the intention of the yoga practice, the mantra, and the affirmation must be clear in mind. Then in a crossed legs position,
with closed eyes, and breathing exercises, the yogi must focus on the mantra.
With the yogi’s right hand, hang the mala on middle finger and use the thumb to
count the mantra by touching the bead during the recitation. To empower the
mala and the mantra, the meditation must be practiced for 40 continuous days.
In the western culture, some yogis use malas not only as a memento of their
mantra, but also as an ornament. The beads can be made out of gemstones which
vary depending on the reason of a person’s practice. Some beads are made of
black onyx, other are quartz, turquoise, or jade. For example, rose quartz is
believed to open the heart chakra, while an amazonite is believed to help us
follow our respective dreams. Traditionally, the beads are made of Rudraksha
seeds, lotus seeds, or as simple as wood. The Rudraksha seeds are believed to
embody peace and love.
For people who are not practicing yoga, but are seeking calmer mind, body, and spirit, the mala beads also serve the purpose. You don’t have to have religious nor
spiritual practice to have one.