What are Malas?

buddhist prayer beads mala

The word "mala" is Sanskrit for 'garland' or 'wreath'. Malas are used for healing and spiritual purposes during mediation and yoga, as a reminder of your mantra throughout the day, or as a symbol of your personal journey.

The Significance of 108

Malas are made of 108 beads plus one typically larger guru bead. 108 is a spiritual and sacred number in Hinduism, Buddhism, and yoga as well as appearing in astrology and astronomy.

In Hinduism, the number 108 is reached by multiplying the senses of smell, touch, taste, hearing, sight, and consciousness (6) by whether they are pleasurable, painful, or neutral (3) and again by whether they are internally or externally generated (2), and again by the times past, present, and future (3). 6 x 3 x 2 x 3 = 108 feelings. 

Hindu deities have 108 names.

In Japan, a bell is rung 108 times at the end of the year to welcome the new year. Each ring of the bell represents the 108 earthly temptations that one must overcome to reach nirvana. 

There are said to be 108 energy lines, or nadis, converging to form the heart chakra.

In astronomy, the distance between the Sun and Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun. The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of Earth.

In Tibetan Buddhism there are believed to be 108 sins or delusions of the mind, and there are 108 sacred books in their holy writings.

In Chinese and Indian martial arts there are 108 pressure points.

As you can see, there are numerous ways the number 108 is a sacred number in many cultures, sciences, literature and even sports plus many more not listed here.

How to Use Your Mala for Meditation

how to use a mala

Malas can be worn as necklaces or as layered bracelets as wearable reminders or representations of your personal mantra or journey. However malas are also used during meditation in several ways but the most common way is by hanging them between the thumb and middle finger of your right hand. Your middle finger is used to rotate the mala toward yourself one bead at a time starting with the guru bead as you recite your mantra until you reach the guru bead again. If you wish to continue, simply reverse direction once you reach the guru bead.

The index finger is not to touch the mala during meditation as the index finger represents ego, which in Hinduism is believed to be the largest impediment toward realization.

How to Choose Your Mala

Our malas are made of natural semi-precious gemstones, each of which have different meanings and energies. You can follow your instinct when viewing the malas and choose the ones you are most drawn to or choose by the stone meanings and purposes. View our chart of stone meanings to see what each stone represents.