Mala Beads: What They Mean And How To Use Them For Meditation

If you've ever seen someone holding a necklace of beads while they meditate or practice yoga, you have come across a type of prayer bead called mala beads. Originating in India over 3,000 years ago, mala beads usually have 108 beads with a large bead in the center (via WebMD). The largest bead on the necklace is referred to as the guru bead. Sometimes marked with a tassel hanging from it, the guru bead is said to hold the energy generated during meditation. The 108 beads represent the "number of wholeness of existence", and the numerical equivalent of "Om" — the sound often chanted during meditation. The number 108 also represents the number of sacred sites in India, and the 108 energy lines connecting to the heart chakra (via The Spiritual Toolbox).

Mala beads have been around for thousands of years as a way to help you focus your mind during meditation or prayer. More and more people are turning to meditation as a way to relax and find inner peace, and everyone has their own ways of meditating. Some people prefer to meditate in a quiet space, free of noise. Other people prefer to use an app for mindfulness or meditation that can act as a guide while finding inner peace. If you have tried either of these methods and are still finding it hard to focus during your meditation, you may want to consider mala beads for your spiritual practice.

How to use mala beads

After getting your very own mala beads, it's time to put them to use during your meditation, spiritual practice, or prayer. According to The Spiritual Toolbox, it's best to follow a few easy steps in order to get the most out of your mala beads. The first thing to do before any meditation or spiritual practice is to set your intention, affirmation, or mantra. After you set the intention for the meditation, it's time to get comfy in a space where you can sit quietly, close your eyes, and relax holding your mala beads in one hand.

Draping the mala beads across your hand so you can move it easily, place the first bead next to the guru bead in between the thumb and middle finger. Here is where your mantra or breath comes into play. Take one complete inhale and exhale holding the bead with your fingers. Move along the necklace, pausing at each bead to take a breath. Some people prefer to quietly chant their mantra or affirmation at each bead, in addition to a complete breath. However, always do whatever feels best for your specific practice. You should complete the necklace after 108 breaths, ending at the guru bead. If you want to do another round, it's recommended to go back in the opposite direction, until you have reached the guru bead again.

Why you should use mala beads during meditation

If you haven't developed a meditation routine already, or if a busy life interrupted your routine, you may want to consider using mala beads to help launch your exercise. Mala beads can be a good guide during meditation as a tangible item that will keep you on track. Pick out beads that represent you best, and opt for a style and color that you gravitate towards. There are various kinds of mala beads to choose from: wood, stone, lava, bone, crystals, and gemstones (to name a few). Every night, place your beads in an area like your nightstand or by your bed. When you wake up in the morning you will see the beads, and it will prompt you to begin your meditation or mindful practice. A spiritual altar at home is another great place to put your mala beads to help you stay consistent in your spiritual practice.

In our busy lives, a regular mindful practice cannot be overstated. As reported by Healthline, meditation helps decrease stress levels, lower blood pressure, and can improve sleep. This is why it's important to have your favorite mala beads handy to keep your mind clear and your intention focused. Your heart rate will slow down as you close your eyes and take a breath at each bead. The repetitive nature of mala beads offers the perfect vessel to achieve inner peace in a busy world.