For eons, indigenous cultures around the globe have used beads as a prayer tool and are also referred to as talimans, something that is charged with energy and power to create change. Used for meditation Japa Mala Beads are also referred to as prayer beads. They are an integral part of the ancient Hindu, Buddhist, and yogic traditions of India and have been around for centuries, for as long as the practice of meditation itself. Malas are said to have even inspired the making of rosary beads. As a child I was a “devout Catholic” and I enjoyed repeating the Hail Mary prayer on my rosary beads.
For some, it is easy for the mind to wander. Saying prayers, affirmations, or mantras (chants) on each bead serves as a systematic and focused way to repeat the prayer while remaining alert to the practice of praying. Holding each bead while repeating your sacred words, engenders concentration and direction. Mala Beads are a way to strengthen and harness a vibrant power in your prayer practice.
Praying in this manner is also a means of generating peace, tranquility, opens doors, and has the power to bring forth whatever your intentions if it is for your highest good.
A Mala is comprised of several components:
108 prayer beads: There are many different stories about the number 108. The numbers in the mala may also represent the universe as one thing (1) nothing (0) infinity (8). A prayer, chant, or affirmation is repeated on each of the 108 beads.
The Guru bead: Guru means teacher. The Guru bead is a central bead that is larger and more prominent than the prayer beads. It sits at the center of the bottom of the necklace. The Guru bead represents the teacher/student relationship. This relationship can be between you and God, you and the Universe, life, and even between you and your inner-self. You too are your teacher.
If you decided to do more than one round of prayers on your Mala, don’t cross over the Guru bead, it is considered disrespectful. Instead of passing over the Guru bead to began where you started, use the last bead as the first bead for your next round of prayers, reversing your direction.
The tassel: The tassel represents Enlightenment. All the strands come together and become one element.
The Accent beads: The accent beads are in addition to the 108 prayer beads. Accent beads are passed over when repeating your prayer, mantra, or intention. They are used to enhance or beautify, and also to signify how many sections your mala consists of. If there are three accent beads, then you know when you get to the third accent bead, it’s an indication that you are approaching your last section before reaching the Guru Bead.
Not every Mala has accent beads, but they all typically have a tassel and or a Guru Bead.
Knotting: There is a knot in-between each bead, in the same way in which pearls are strung.
How to hold your Mala: The Mala is held in your right hand and draped over your middle finger. There is an inherent tendency to want to use the pointer finger, but your thumb should be used to move along the strand from one bead to the next.
How to Care For Your Mala: Always handle your Mala with clean hands. Keep your Mala in a pouch or lovely container with a lid. Malas can also be worn as a necklace. When wearing your Mala others may reach out to touch and handle your Mala in admiration. It is best to discourage this tendency. You can gracefully step back as the person reaches out. If someone handles your Mala you can physically and energetically cleanse your Mala by spraying them with a Spiritual Spritzers, smoking them with burning frankincense or copal by holding them over the smoke of the burning resin. Or you can gently glide a little frankincense essential oil across your Mala necklace.
You can also use your Mala to pray for others. Or considering gifting a special someone with a present of a Mala.
Our Malas are not mass produced. Each of our Mala Prayer Beads is handmade by yours truly. They are created using real gemstones that I have personally and lovingly selected. Designing and making each of these necklaces is like a meditation in its own right. It requires focus, intention, and I have experienced a real joy and accomplishment upon the completion of each Mala. I feel honored to create these necklaces of prayer and intention.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice to say, it’s been a long and challenging journey to bring these Malas to fruition. Each step along this road was fraught with challenges. Even my trip to Tucson was inspired to find the right components for making the Malas. All the setbacks and trails have given me a deeper appreciation for the process. A dear friend even suggested over a year ago that I begin making Malas, and I resisted. It is compelling to consider how there are times when the thing we resist the most is the same thing we come to hold dear to our hearts.
There are two types of Malas: those with knots and those without knots. In the beginning, I wasn’t interested in making Malas with knots. I felt it would take too much time and it would be too much work. It does take considerably more time and toiling, but I’ve fallen in love with the work, with the knotting. When you truly enjoy the work you’re doing it doesn’t feel like work. At this point, I can’t imagine making Malas without the knots.
I welcome special orders. If you prefer a particular gemstone, color, design or different kind of prayer beads from your own tradition or religion, please let me know. If there is a component that you would like to have added to your Mala, a unique element or guru bead, let’s go for it.
If you’re interested in learning anything in particular about how to use Malas to enhance your own life, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We can use Prayer Beads as a daily practice to strengthen and empower our devotion and to connect to the Divine Presence within us.