Mala and Prayer Beads For Beginners

Trusha Khambhaita Contemporary Mantra Mala Mala Beads Mantra Meditation

Mala and Prayer Beads For Beginners


Quote: I’ll give my jewels for a set of beads – William Shakespeare in Richard II

Mala beads have been used for used for centuries for spiritual practice by many world religions including Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism and Sikhism. (It’s important to note that, you do not have to be religious to enjoy mala beads).

With the growing popularity of meditation, mindfulness and yoga, mala beads have become more commonly used, worn and enjoyed.

They can be used for meditation or worn as a reminder of an intention.  There is no right or wrong.

Here’s a beginner’s guide to mala beads:

What is a mala or a prayer bead?

A Mala also known as prayer beads is a string of beads that was traditionally used to count how many times a mantra is recited or how many breaths are taken during meditation.  A literal translation of ‘mala’ in Sanskrit is a garland.

Buddhist and Hindu mala typically have 108 beads and a guru bead (otherwise known as a head bead).  ‘Guru’ means teacher in Sanskrit.  Sometimes a fraction of 108 beads is used such as 54 or 27.  Read about the significance of the auspicious number 108 here.

What are mala beads made from?

Mala bead are usually made from wood such as sandalwood or rudraksha which is considered a very holy and protective seed in India. The beads can also be made from crystals or stones which each have unique benefits. 

How to choose a mala

Here are some questions you may want to consider when choosing a mala.

Do you want to use your mala for meditation or to wear as jewelry with an intention? Or both?

A wooden or a rudraksha mala might be more functional as a meditation mala. A crystal or stone mala maybe more functional as an intentional mala.  You can of course use it for both.

Which mala are you drawn to? 

Choosing a mala can be as simple as embracing what you are drawn to. 

Trust in your intuition as it is usually right.

What is your intention? What would you like to manifest?

Different beads have different intentions.  Are you trying to manifest love, peace, strength etc.

How do you wear a mala?

You can wear a mala as an intentional piece of jewelry. 

Either wear the mala as a short or long necklace or wrapped around your wrist as a bracelet.  It is a great mindful tool as every time you see it you’ll be reminded if your intention.  You can also use the mala as a helpful reminder of living in the present moment. 

It is recommended that a mala used as intentional jewelry and a mala used for japa meditation are kept for their sole purpose. 

How do you use a mala for japa meditation

Japa meditation is simply a meditation that is done repeating a mantra and using a mala. 

Here are some guidelines how to use your mala for this type of meditation:

Hold your mala in your right hand (as this is believed to be more auspicious). 

Start with the bead that comes after the guru bead and use your thumb and middle finger to turn your mala one bead at a time with each repetition of your mantra. (Avoid using your index finger as this is deemed to represent ‘ego’).

When you reach the last bead before the guru bead, you can carry on with another round of meditation by simply turning your mala around and starting to count the beads in the opposite way. 

What is a mantra?

A mantra is a word or series of words usually chanted aloud. Chanting is used as a spiritual tool in virtually every cultural and religious tradition although it does not have to be religious.  (The use of contemporary mantras is growing).  Mantra is a Sanskrit word whereby ‘man’ means mind and ‘tra’ means release. Essentially meaning releasing the mind from anxiety, worry and suffering. 


How to select a mantra

A mantra is either given to you by a ‘guru’ (spiritual teacher) or you can choose one for yourself.

If you are selecting a mantra for yourself be clear on what your intention is.

Also, consider: 

What do you want to attract into your life?
Which mantra are you attracted to?
How does it feel saying it? 


Here are some mantras you may want to consider:

Ancient Hindu & Buddhist Mantras


Is the sound of creation and it represents the universe in the past, present and future. 

The universe is always moving and changing. By chanting this mantra you are aligning yourself with the positive energy (vibration) of the universe.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Shanti in Sanskrit means peace.  Chanting shanti three times within this mantra bring peace to mind, body and soul.


Om Mani Padme Hum

This mantra originated in India and was adopted by Tibetan Buddhists. The literal translation of this mantra is ‘the jewel is in the lotus” however Dalai Lama teaches that the mantra transforms improper body mind and speech to pure body mind and speech with wisdom and enlightenment, compassion and love.

Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha

Tibetan Buddhists believe that Tara is a merciful and compassionate female Buddha. This mantra invokes her blessings and requests for her protection from danger and from our fears. The mantra is used to overcome mental, physical, or emotional blockages. Reciting the mantra is believed to eliminate disease, fear, anxiety, suffering, disasters, troubles, and negative karma.  It helps to achieve enlightenment for ourselves and others.


Om Gum Ganapatayei Namah 

Ganesh is the elephant faced Hindu God who is believed capable of removing all obstacles. This mantra seeks his blessings and protections as well as the removal of obstacles in your life/path. With this mantra you are aligning yourself positively with your goals and moving forward in your life with conviction.


Om Bhur Bhuvah Svah Tat Savitur Varenyam Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi Dhiyo Yo Nah Pracodayat

The general translation of this Hindu mantra is:  we meditate on that most adored Supreme Lord, the creator, whose effulgence (divine light) illumines all realms (physical, mental and spiritual). May this divine light illumine our intellect.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare

In Hinduism, Hare means the Female Energy of God and Krishna and Ram are names of God.

The simple translation of this mantra is that you are calling on Mother (Hare – the female energy of God) to take you home to our Father (God) or to engage in his service.

Om Namo Narayani

Is a Hindu mantra that mean ‘I surrender to the divine’.


So ham 

Is a Hindu mantra, meaning "I am He/That" in Sanskrit. In Vedic philosophy, it means identifying oneself with the universe or ultimate reality.

Modern Day Contemporary Mantra

I am at peace with what was, what is and what will be. I forgive others. I forgive me.

I am enough. I have enough.

I am exactly where I need to be right now.

I inhale love and peace for myself. I exhale love and peace for all others.


Please share your comments and wisdom on using mala beads and browse our collection of mala beads to see which one resonates with you.

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