Malas are strands of 108 beads plus a “guru” bead traditionally used for meditation and prayer. There are many theories behind the significance of the number 108, which has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism.
It’s taught that the number 1 stands for God, the universe or your own highest truth; 0 stands for emptiness and humility in spiritual practice; and 8 stands for infinity and timelessness.
Mala beads can be as simple or as ornate as you wish. They can be made of wooden beads, such as sandalwood or a variety of gemstones like amethyst or rose quartz. They act as a beautiful way to help you stay focused in your meditation and chanting practice.
How to Use Mala Beads for Meditation
- Choose a spot and sit comfortably with your spine straight and your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths to center and align yourself with your intention.
- If you have one, use a mantra for this practice, chanting aloud or silently.
- Hold your mala in your right hand, draped between your middle and index fingers. Starting at the guru bead, use your thumb to count each smaller bead, pulling it toward you as you recite your mantra. Do this 108 times, traveling around the mala, until you once again reach the guru bead.
- If you want to continue the meditation, instead of passing over the guru bead, simply reverse direction and begin again.