mala bracelets

Malas- What are they really all about?

About Mala Beads

Prayer beads have already been utilized for centuries as a devotion and meditation tool. An intention, prayer or mantra is recited for each one of the beads. Many religions have some kind of sacred prayer bead, Christianity-rosary, Hindu-jappa, Islam-subhah, and Buddhist-mala. We, at Sakura Designs feature Buddhist malas, and are Buddhist and Yoga practitioners. We use them with our daily mantra practice, and wear mala bracelets every day!

There are lots of traditions surrounding the usage of prayer beads. The kind of material the beads are produced from, symbols carved or painted to them, the amount of beads, the way they are used, and what religion they may be from. We have seen references suggest that Buddhism was the first one to use beads as to calm and stabilize the mind meditation and evoke devotion and compassion. Within the West, western Buddhists are forming their very own new traditions evolving from the Eastern traditions. The significance of mantra practices are kept, and malas are being integrated into modern western culture. This article will offer suggestions to use your mala to “create inner calmness” on the path.

Precisely what is a mala?

Creating a mala is similar to composing a poem or a piece of inspired art. We have a quantity of 108 beads, in some instances patterns of additional beads (where markers go), always a guru bead that ties the entire into one and often a tassel or knot, although the last is personal preference. The guru bead has three holes. The guru bead represents the guru or spiritual teacher and is not counted.

The kinds of malas are listed below.

Full Mala 108 beads, 3 markers spaced every 27 beads, as well as the guru bead.

Hand Mala: 27 beads, 2 makers, and guru.

Jappa: 99- 36 beads, such as the guru there are no marker beads.

Wrist mala: 18-24 beads, no guru or markers and is also usually, on the cord made adjustable with a  slip knot.

Verve Mala
Verve Mala

Why 108 Beads?

The astute reader will notice a pattern in the amount of beads… all of them are divisible by 3 or 9. They are considered holy numbers. 108 is divisible by both 3 and 9. And also at the guru bead this is the 108.

A 27 bead mala might be self explanatory, but to remain consistent, 2 7=9 and 27 is divisible by 3 and 9. In Hinduism, the amount 108 is really a holy number and several devotional practices should be repeated 108 times. Both Buddhism and Hinduism took this numerology from earlier Indian religion.

Mala Materials

Go with what inspires! There are no hard and fast rules, your teacher or tradition may suggest a material: birthstone, numerology or gemstone healing property. Malas may be produced from wood, bone, carved bone within the form of a human skull, semi-precious gemstones, sandalwood, red sandalwood, bodhi seed, rosewood, precious metals, lotus seed in the sunshine and moon pattern, genuine amber in Tibetan malas, crystal. Malas may be embellished with metal spacers, focal beads involving the guru as well as the tassel, the tassel being silky or cotton or knotted.

Carnelian, for example, an all natural stone of deep red, is a stone linked to the historical Shakyamuni Buddha, Gotama. Quartz crystal is often the stone related to Quan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. Lapis lazuli is usually the stone from the Medicine Buddha Basaijaya Guru whose skin is definitely the color of lapis. The bodhi seed is wood from a bodhi tree, Ficus religiosa, under that the Buddha gained enlightenment, and is very precious and costly these days.

Sandalwood is  scented wood which will help an individual to achieve a greater purpose. Red sandalwood or rosewood are often used. Rosewood is endangered which is hard to find and is also expensive. Red sandalwood is substituted for this and frequently sold because it. The lotus seed is associated with purity. Up from your muck and decay towards the bottom from the pond, it rises towards the surface to open up pure, brilliantly white… a metaphor of the journey with the cycles of birth and suffering to finally gain the purity of enlightenment. The carved bone human skulls would be the reminder of impermanence. Everything is impermanent, so that as a reason for meditation, it is really an aid to realizing the reality of impermanence as well as an end towards the suffering brought on by the misconception that situations are permanent. Let it all go!

How to Use a Mala

The specific use of the beads depends upon the tradition or even the practitioner. Tibetans believe in case a mantra (a prayer) is recited 100,000 times, the practitioner will gain the wisdom and purification from the mantra practice. A mala for this specific purpose also offers counters to keep an eye on each round of recitation and something for teams of 10, as well as others could be put into keep an eye on thousands. For a lot of other Buddhists, the recitation of the mantra, along with receiving merit which is then committed to all beings, is a kind of meditation, a focusing or sharpening from the mind. Additionally, it brings calmness and stilling towards the body. Hindus, when using the beads, never cross the guru bead, but turn back from the guru bead. Buddhists also do not use the guru bead as a mantra, and it is skipped over out of respect. The beads are counted, one for every recitation from the prayer using the mala located in one hand as well as the beads counted using the thumb which advances the mala yet another bead and helps make the next ready for your count on the forefinger. We’ve often seen it referenced the goal is telling 100 recitations using the extra 8 in case one did a number of them imperfectly. We actually do not accept that because the merit and openhearted-ness is gained from your reciting of mantras, regardless of how imperfectly said! We believe it is the significance of the amount 108 towards the ancient numerology.

What are Mantras?

Mantras are powerful word and tone prayers that can be spoken or sung. Nearly all are connected with an aspiration, healing quality, Deity, Buddha or Bodhisattva. The mantras have syllables which have meanings however, not necessarily a sentence or phrase which is translatable literally. We have specific malas for several mantras, bodhi seed for your Buddha’s mantra: Om muni muni mahamunyea soha. We have also seen it as being Om muni muni Shakyamunyea soha. Om is the noise of the universe, this is the vibration that most beings are a part of. Muni roughly means great and soha is similar to amen. Therefore it is something similar to “connect me towards the universe, great Shakya (the clan Buddha belonged to) amen. This mantra is really a prayer for attaining wisdom and understanding. We have another mala for Quan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. It really is black onyx, not particularly associated with Quan Yin. Her mantra is one of the most commonly known even by non-Buddhists. Om mani padme hum (or hung). Mani is really a jewel and padme is lotus so that all together this is the jewel within the lotus. This can be a prayer for attaining compassion. We have a lapis lazuli mala for your Medicine Buddha. His prayer is perfect for healing. Tagatha, Om bekendza, bekendza, maha bekendza rodza samugatha soha. It really continues on for around a paragraph, this is actually the shortened form. These mantras supplicate the enlightened Buddhas and guru for healing.

Additionally, there are a number of other Bodhisattva mantras which are just repetitions from the name again and again. Green Tara and White Tara are examples.  A personal, spiritual teacher explains a lot more about mantras in addition to a different uses of the mantras as well as their meanings together with pronunciation.

Full malas tend to be worn as an indication of devotion and protection around the neck when not in use, or being a wrist mala, wrapping the entire mala round the wrist. We don’t recommend this since it shortens the life span from the cord as well as the mala will break easily. Hand malas tend to be held during prostrations and we really like to make use of them during walking meditation being an unobtrusive way of counting. Obviously, wrist malas are worn daily a bracelet and have stretchy cord or an adjustable slipknot.

Stress Relief and Overcoming Habits and Addictions!

Tibetans always say that mantra “protects the mind.” Malas are helpful for any of us, as an invaluable stress reduction tool. Prayer beads are also referred to as worry beads. Malas have been used  to assist in overcoming negative habits like quitting smoking, or maintaining mindfulness in relationships. Mantras give the mind and hands something to accomplish once the urge to react, be impulsive or an addiction comes up. You can create your own very own personal mantra that helps to stay focused and meditate. This is a practice that will benefit everyone, a period of time where the mind is fully absorbed in something apart from negative patterns worries. Mala mantra practice provides the body and mind an opportunity to relax which by itself is healing, and we all need that these days!

For more information about buddhist malas, simply visit our website

Gloria Phillips for Sakura Designs



    I’m being told by a few experienced Theravada Buddhist practicing vipassana meditation as I am , that they are not necessary,and don’t use them. I am new and was thinking during vipassana meditation if I have a busy mind the beads would help settle it down as another concentration point, as well as when I’m done with my meditation I would use them for mantras to help enforce my spiritual goals, most on forums as well say there not necessary. What do you think about combining them with vipassana or afterwards for montra work.? Eric

    1. Hi Eric, malas have many uses, and yes, we use them to keep count of our Buddhist mantras, daily.

      1. oliverlukacovic6982

        Why 24?! 27 is much, much nore practical.

        1. Hi, 27 bead bracelets don’t stay on a wrist, these are called pocket or travel malas and we do make them as a custom design. Thanks for commenting!

  2. johhnyMuh


  3. oliverlukacovic6982

    Why 24 beads instead of 27?

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