How to Use Meditation Beads
There are so many was to practice the art of meditation, however, one of the most unique, ancient practices is with meditation beads . Also known as mala meditation beads, beaded meditation has been around for centuries and offers a physical guide that will help you through the meditation process.
Whether you are new to the art of meditation, or just looking to switch up your current meditative practice—this is a great practice to consider and one that can easily lead you to a state of enlightenment.
Mala Meditation Beads
The first and most interesting thing about mala meditation, of course is the beads. Mala beads (also known as malas, Buddhist beads or Buddhist prayer beads) have been used in Hinduism and Buddhism as early as the 10th century.
If you have never seen them before, here is a rundown of what you can expect with these meditation beads.
What Do Mala Beads Look Like?
The mala beads themselves are small, round beads that are typically 7-8 mm or 10mm in size. Their specific shape and size is purposeful—so you can easily guide them through your fingers.
Mala beads traditionally come in a strand of 108 different beads that you use to keep count during your mantra-based meditation.
While 108 is the standard number of beads for traditional mala meditation, mala strands can also be made of 27 beads or 21 beads if you want to do shorter meditations (they typically come in bracelet form). There are also some 108 strand malas that have markers near 7 and 21 for shorter meditation practices.
There is always a tassel on all mala beads. This tassel represents the end point—letting you know that you’ve gone all the way around your mala and completed your meditation.
Between the tassel and the necklace (or bracelet) loop there is a single bead, known as the guru bead.
What Are Mala Beads Made Out Of?
Traditional mala beads are made out of yak bone, Rudraksha beads, lotus seed beads, Bodhi seeds or wood. There are also healing mala beads, which are made from gemstones.
These Mala beads are made out of gemstones that match the intention of your practice. Mala beads are often also placed in shrines or people are encouraged to display them somewhere highly visible as a reminder of your affirmations.
These beads, typically made from materials such as black onyx, turquoise, rose quartz or jade—all have different energies and properties.
How Do I Use the Meditation Beads During Practice?
Before you sit down and actually attempt to perform mala meditation, it is important to know how to use these beads so that you are confident in how to utilize them and that you don’t allow them to get in the way of your practice.
Here’s what you need to know:
- You should always hold the strand of beads in your dominant hand with the tassel facing toward you
- Start your meditation with the bead to the right of the guru bead
- When you move from bead to bead, roll them through your fingers as a physical way to direct your energy and attention, or “turn” the beads.
- Do not turn the beads using your index finger—mala believes it represents the ego.
- Pay attention to the knotting between each bead—this knot is designed to slow down the practice and ease the process of moving from one bead to the next.
Get comfortable with your beads before you start using them as part of your mala meditation, so you don’t focus your attention on the beads themselves, but on your practice of meditating with them instead.
It should come as no surprise that with the addition of the beads, mala meditation is slightly different than most traditional forms of mindful or mantra meditation. The good news is, mala meditation is actually easier for many people than other forms of meditation because the beads act as a guide.
However, there is more than pretty beads to mala meditation. The beads are designed to help redirect your thoughts. This is a practice that is used in many forms of meditation. While some types of meditation focus on returning to your breath when your mind waders—mala meditation encourages you to refocus on your beads.
The thought is that instead of allowing your mind to wander and allowing you to judge yourself—you can focus your mind on the beads and find that inner peace you are looking for.
Why Do People Use Meditation Beads?
There are many different reasons why people use mala meditation beads—and you may be wondering what the reasoning is behind these beads.
While there is a great deal of history behind this type of meditation, for most people, they enjoy using meditation beads because they are helpful. These beads are designed to help guide you through your meditation, similar to how some people prefer auditory guided meditations when they practice.
You can move through the different beads repeating each of your mantras as you go through, so you know how long you should be meditating for. If you are someone who feels as though your mind wanders when you meditate, or if you meditate for too long or too short—these beads can be a great guide to help you through.
Choosing Meditation Beads
If you are ready to give Mala Meditation a try—then you will need a set of Mala beads.
There are some people who believe in choosing mala beads based on intuition. They will look at several beads and choose the ones that speaks to their gut feeling. Sometimes you just know when something is speaking to you. You can follow your gut, listen to your intuition as it talks to you and choose a bead based on this.
Another popular place to start is with your intention—or what you are looking to get out of your meditation practices. This is another very personal decision, and there are a few different types of mala beads that are thought to relate to different intentions. Here are some of the most common.
- Balance- Jasper stone
- Strength- Lava
- Healing and Protection- Turquoise
- Inspiration- Hematite
- Clarity- Clear Quartz
- Confidence– Blue Opal
- Love- Rose Quartz
The best part about choosing meditation beads is that there is no wrong choice and no wrong mala bead—it is all about finding the ones that work for you.
How to Use Meditation Beads
Armed with some background on what mala meditation beads are, and how you are supposed to use them, it is time to incorporate these beads into your regular practice.
1. Set an Intention
Every meditation practice should start with an intention. Set an intention for what you hope to get out of your meditation. Write it out or say it out loud to breathe it into the universe.
2. Find a Quiet Place
As with any form of meditation, you need to find the right place to meditation. Find a quiet place that is free from distractions and one where you can relax and unwind.
3. Breathe Deeply
Start every practice with several deep breaths in and deep breaths out. You should try to keep a slow, even, but deep breathing pattern during you meditation. Find a pattern that relaxes you and helps you feel more at-ease. Then grab your beads and begin.
4. Push The Mala Meditation Beads
Starting with the bead to the right of the guru bead, begin your practice. On each bead, take a deep and slow inhale and exhale, just as you did when you began your practice, then move to the next bead.
On each bead, along with your breath, begin silently repeating your mantra to yourself.
5. Count the 108 Meditation Beads
Repeat this process until you go through all of your beads, and reach the tassel. When you reach the tassel, you know you are done.
If you find your mind is wandering, just redirect it to your beads.
6. Repeat As Needed
Just because you reach the end of your strand, it doesn’t mean that your meditative practice needs to be over. There are many people who want to go through their strands several times until they find the peace of mind they are looking for.
There are so many different types of meditation out there—each with their own unique perks and benefits. However, for many practicing meditators today, there is nothing quite like mala meditation and the unique perks that come with using these beads.
If you are looking for a simple, yet effective form of guided meditation and a tool that you can carry with you to help you through your meditative practices, then mala meditation is for you. The great part is, like most forms of meditation, there is no wrong way to perform mala meditation, meaning there is no better time than the present to give it a try.