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What Are Mala Beads? And How Do You Use Them?

What are Mala Beads?

Mala beads are an excellent way to not only connect more deeply with your spiritual nature, but can also allow for a deeper connection to your meditation practice. Mala beads have been used for centuries and can be found throughout many different cultures worldwide.

If you’ve used mala beads before you know how special they can feel when you simply pick them up and hold them. They seem to carry a special connection to the divine…and our own true spiritual nature. Prayer beads (no matter what your beliefs) have been keeping people spiritually connected for centuries.

The History of Mala Beads

Mala beads today aren’t much different than they were thousands of years ago. From the beginning, mala beads were designed to be used by the average person seeking more spiritual solace.

Legend has it that a king once came to the Buddha asking him how he could manage to learn the dharma and teach it to others with all the distress going on around him. To this the Buddha replied: “If you want to eliminate earthly desires, make a circular string of 108 bodhi seeds and, holding them always to yourself, recite, 'I take refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in the dharma. I take refuge in the Sangha.' Count one bead with each recitation of these three."

And while no one truly realizes the exact origins of mala beads, they’ve certainly become a symbol of Eastern tradition. From the initial use in the Buddhist tradition as a way to “eliminate earthy desires” of those who couldn’t leave their secular lives, mala beads were soon used by Buddhist monks who found they helped facilitate meditation.

What Are Mala Beads Used For?

Today mala beads are representative of a much broader spiritual culture and are used widely amongst different people with vastly different beliefs. These days it’s common to see people wearing their mala beads like a necklace, perhaps as a reminder of their true spiritual nature or the higher spiritual understanding they seek.

Mala beads are most commonly used as an aid in meditation and chanting. Having the beads in your hand help bring you back to the present moment. They can serve as a way to help recite mantras or prayers by moving your fingers to the next bead on your mala every time you recite it. With some chants and prayers in Eastern traditions customarily recited a certain number of times, mala beads work as a way to keep track of how many times it’s repeated in your practice.  

For those who don’t care to pray or recite chants, mala beads can be used to simply count each breath during meditation. Meditation is a wonderfully beneficial practice to help us create calm and balance, but as many of us know it’s not always easy to stay focused on our breath. Use your mala beads to count one inhale and move to the next mala bead when you exhale. They make a great tool to help us keep our focus and increase concentration on the breath.

Why Malas Have 108 Beads

The number 108 holds significant spiritual symbolism, with each mala containing 108 beads...plus one, which is known as the guru bead and represents your guru, your higher self, or what you consider the divine.

Long regarded as a sacred number in yoga and Hinduism, the number 108 is found throughout many facets of yogic and Hindu tradition. There are 108 Upanishads (ancient Vedic texts), 108 sacred sites scattered throughout India, and 108 marma points (sacred sites of the body).

The number 108 also has strong roots in the mathematics in Vedic culture, where it is seen as the number of all existence. The sun is also 108 times larger in diameter as the Earth, and the distance from Earth to Sun is 108 times the diameter of the sun.

The importance of the number 108 is reflected in the spiritual power mala beads provide and may also serve as a reminder of your own divine nature and connectedness to everything that is.

How to Use Your Mala Beads

Using your mala beads is truly up to your own interpretation. When you first get your mala beads you might simply want to sit with them in quiet reflection as you absorb the energy they contain. You can also wear them around your neck for a couple days to merge your own energy with the beads themselves.

Traditionally when using mala beads they’re intended to be held a certain way. Beads should be held in the right hand (the left isn’t considered pure in many customs), with individual beads moved through the middle finger and thumb starting from the bead closest to the guru bead on the right hand side. The thumb is used then to pull each bead over or through the middle finger with each breath, mantra, prayer, or chant.

Mala beads aren’t just reserved for meditation. They can be worn as a reminder of your practice. You can set an intention with your mala beads and keep them with you to remind you of this intention throughout the day. They can be put in the car, placed on your bedside, set on your computer or desk, or anywhere else where you can see them and be reminded of your innate spiritual divinity and connectedness.

When not using your mala beads it’s best to store them in a sacred spot such as an altar. A lot of people will hang their mala beads around the neck of a statue of Buddha or other deity that represents their spiritual beliefs. Mala beads should always be treated in the highest regard and lovingly placed somewhere special (wherever that may be for you) when not being used.

Cleansing you mala beads is also something important to keep in mind. Mala beads hold energy and will definitely need a cleansing from time to time. Letting them sit out under the full moon is a wonderful way to cleanse your mala beads. They can also be smudged with sage or incense. Laying them over a piece of quartz crystal will also cleanse them while charging them with a brilliant energy.

Mala beads serve not only as a traditional tool for more calm and focus during meditation, but also as a way to connect more deeply with your own spirituality. They can invoke positive energy and encourage a true connection to the divine energy that is within us all.

Thank you for reading, you can see our Mala Beads collection below.

Namaste  🙏

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  • I have received my mala beads and am thrilled with them, delivery was quick and I am now wearing them on my wrist at the moment, can’t wait to experience my meditation with them, thankyou infinitebeads ? Xxx

    • Sarah Murphy
  • I love that put up the meenings of spiritusl stuff and majecit so clear to understand, Thankyou!

    • karen smith