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Meditation Malas

Prayer beads is an important element of Buddhist culture. Beads are strung on a string, at the end of which there is a special brush of soft threads, also called “tassel”. Prayer Beads originate from India where they were widely used even before our era by monks to focus on mantras. Nowadays Prayer Beads have become very popular and perform many important and practical functions. For example, Prayer Beads are used for counting recitations and rhythm during various religious rituals. Also, they are symbols of particular schools of Buddhism and token of enlightenment state of a particular worshipper.

Design of Buddhist Prayer Beads and number of beads

Buddhist Prayer Beads (in Sanskrit – mala, in Tibetan – trengwa, both words are translated as a «garland») consist of 108 beads, and one extra Guru bead which is 109th in a row and connects both ends of Mala together. This is the most popular design, because 108 is the number of worldly desires and weaknesses of human being, having overcome which, he will achieve spiritual enlightenment. Sometimes there could be other numbers all of which are divisible of 108 – for example, in case with wrist bracelets.

Traditionally, Buddhist Malas consist of 9 beads repeated 12 times. There are several reasons for this:

  • 12 consists of 5 and 7: five symbolizes primary elements of nature, and seven stands for days of week, colors of rainbow and music notes.
  • Buddhist monks can take only nine items with them on their journey.

Traditional Buddhist Prayer Beads consist of the following elements:

  • Beads (can be made of different materials)
  • Counters or separators. Worshippers are usually very self-absorbed during religious practice, but still can be distracted. When counting beads, worshipper immediately notices that separator has different size and thus mentally returns to his meditation.
  • Thread
  • Knots between beads (required to prevent beads from touching each other and generating noise)
  • 109th bead (Guru or Meru) symbolizes God
  • Brush / Tassel (connects thread and beads). The color of Tassel can tell a lot about the owner of Mala. Black color means that the monk has renounced worldly life, yellow symbolizes state of enlightenment and distancing from the world of people. Prayer Beads with a red tassels is more universal, it can belong to a followers of any Buddhist school.

Materials for Buddhist Prayer Beads. Which to choose?

Buddhist Malas made white sandalwood

Sandalwood is one of the purest materials. White sandalwood has a cooling effect and helps to overcome sensual temptations. It is widely known and appreciated by followers of Buddhism from all over the world.

Prayer Beads made of red sandalwood

Thanks to this material, such Prayer Beads help its owner to concentrate and achieve his goals. Unlike white sandalwood, red heats up and stimulates activity as well as increases active creative energy.

Juniper Malas 

Juniper Prayer beads cleanse space around, gather and contain positive energy, also fights negative ones. Juniper wood does not rot, so it is perfect for long-term usage.

Prayer Beads made of lotus seeds

These beads are used to achieve financial well-being and comfortable living conditions.

Malas made of Rudraksha fruits

Rudraksha attracts powerful energy flows, making it easier to focus on primary goals. This material is very powerful: it influences other people and has electromagnetic properties, and therefore it should be used only with love to people and extreme caution.

Prayer beads made of seeds of Bodhi tree

It was under this tree where Buddha was meditating when he had his enlightenment. Therefore, this material has special meaning for all Buddhists. It is believed that power of any mantra and / or blessings pronounced when holding Bodhi Tree Seeds Mala is multiplied many times.

Rock Crystal Buddhist Prayer beads

It is a perfect material for self-cleansing. It is great for meditation and reading of healing mantras. It also creates and maintains energy balance.

Malas made of Agate

Agate symbolizes harmony. It enhances sensitivity and balances state of mind and body. Material specific properties depend on the type of the gemstone itself: white agate is for spirituality, black – for self-development, red – for healing, blue – to reveal the noble essence of a person.

Jade Prayer Beads

Jade is one of the noblest stones. It awakens such character features as peacefulness, courage and justice.

Prayer beads made of oak wood

Oak wood actively attracts positive energies, has an anti-inflammatory effect, purifies the air, and prevents negative mood and thoughts.

Basil Malas 

This material is well known for its healing abilities: it has positive effect on memory, nerves, and cardiovascular system.

Buddhist Prayer beads made of Neem (Azadirachta indica)

Neem is an excellent antiseptic: it has a positive effect on digestion and helps to get rid of bacterias.

Buddhist Mala made of bones

It is a special material that provides Prayer Beads with very powerful energy. The most valuable are the beads made of the frontal bone of the skull. It is believed that most of mental power is concentrated there. Such material enhances owner’s psychic abilities.

When choosing Buddhist Prayer beads, it is important to take into consideration the following aspects:

  • Which school of Buddhism suits you best (some materials are most suitable for particular religious schools: Rudraksha – for Shaivism, precious and semiprecious materials – for Tibetan Buddhism, etc.)
  • What kind of mantras you are going to practice (put special attention on healing effects of materials, ability to attract positive energy, stimulate creative activity, and so on)?
  • Your personal preferences. Pay attention to your tactual sensations because you will be touching your Prayer Beads all the time.

How to use Buddhist Prayer Beads 

Hold your Mala with your index finger. After each mantra you pronounce, you need to move one bead with your thumb.

How to hold a prayer beads:

  • For healing, hold it at the level of the heart chakra, facing East.
  • For wealth, boost in strength and intellectual development, prayer beads should be placed at the level of the solar plexus chakra, looking South.
  • To boost your energy hold them at the level of genitals, looking West.

When counting beads, make sure to keep in mind that you cannot “jump” over the 109th. After all, it symbolizes our Lord. When you get to this Guru bead, turn Prayer Beads 180 degrees, and start over.

Usually, Buddhists count beads from five to twenty times a day. Deeply religious Buddhists do this much more frequently.

Also, to preserve positive and creative energy of mantras, one should not swear, cough, eat meat, smoke and consume alcohol. These actions easily destroy energy of mantras.

It is recommended to store Buddhist Mala in a special bag to protect it from external energies.

That is all there is to know about Buddhist Prayer Beads.

Choose Meditation Mala, which is right for you, learn the rules of counting beads, and start using them for your meditations, mantras readings and other religious practices.

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