Demystifying Mala Beads: A Guide to Understanding and Using Them

The Wild Wandering
Jun 01, 2024By The Wild Wandering

Mala beads have been used for centuries in various spiritual practices and meditation techniques. These beautiful strands of beads are more than just jewelry; they hold deep symbolic meaning and can be powerful tools for mindfulness and intention setting.

White mala rosary on the autumn leaves. Mantra. One hundred and eight beads.

What are Mala Beads?

Mala beads are typically made up of 108 beads, which are used to count the repetitions of a mantra or prayer during meditation. The number 108 is considered sacred in many Eastern traditions and represents the wholeness of the universe.

The Meaning Behind the Beads

Each mala bead necklace is unique and often features a guru bead, which symbolizes the student-guru relationship in meditation. The tassel that hangs from the guru bead represents enlightenment.

Old wooden mala beads, essential accessory for meditation or mindfulness.

How to Use Mala Beads

Using mala beads in meditation can help you focus your mind and set intentions. To use them, simply hold the mala in your dominant hand, starting at the guru bead and moving each bead with your thumb as you recite your mantra.

Setting Intentions

Before starting your meditation practice with mala beads, take a moment to set an intention or goal for your practice. This could be anything from cultivating gratitude to finding inner peace.

Hand meditation on Japa Mala Tulsi wooden Beads

Choosing Your Mala Beads

When selecting mala beads, it's essential to choose a strand that resonates with you and your intentions. Different gemstones and materials are believed to carry different energies and properties.

Cleansing and Charging

Just like any other spiritual tool, it's important to cleanse and charge your mala beads regularly to keep them energetically clear and aligned with your intentions.

Woman with lilac mala beads on her hands henna mehendi

Commonly used Mantras:

Mantras used with Mala Beads vary depending on personal beliefs, traditions, and spiritual practices. Here are some common mantras used by practitioners:

Om Mani Padme Hum: A Tibetan Buddhist mantra, often translated as "The jewel is in the lotus" or "Hail to the jewel in the lotus." It is associated with compassion and the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara.

Om Namah Shivaya: A Hindu mantra dedicated to Lord Shiva, it means "I bow to Shiva." It's believed to have the power to cleanse the soul and bring peace.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti: This is a Vedic peace mantra. "Shanti" means peace, and chanting it three times is believed to bring peace to the body, mind, and soul.

So Hum: A Sanskrit mantra meaning "I am that." It reflects the unity of the individual with the universe. "So" corresponds to inhalation, and "Hum" to exhalation.

Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha: A mantra dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. It's chanted to seek Ganesha's blessings for success and overcoming challenges.

Om Mani Padme Hum: Associated with the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, it's a powerful mantra for invoking the blessings of Chenrezig, the bodhisattva of compassion.

Sat Nam: A Kundalini Yoga mantra meaning "Truth is my identity." It's used to connect with the divine truth within oneself.
Aum: Also spelled as "Om," it's a sacred sound and a spiritual icon in Indian religions. It represents the essence of the ultimate reality, consciousness, or Atman.

Om Bhur Bhuva Swaha: Known as the Gayatri mantra, it's a highly revered mantra from the Rig Veda. It's a prayer for enlightenment, invoking the divine light and wisdom.

Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung: A healing mantra from the Kundalini Yoga tradition, it's used for healing and sending healing energy to oneself or others.

These are just a few examples, and there are countless other mantras used with Mala Beads, each with its own significance and purpose.

Final Thoughts

Whether you're a seasoned meditator or just starting on your mindfulness journey, incorporating mala beads into your practice can deepen your connection to yourself and the universe. Take the time to explore the world of mala beads and discover the transformative power they hold.