What Is A Mala?

A Mala, meaning "garland", is a strand of prayer beads that is used to keep count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra, prayer, or name of a deity.  In Sanskrit, this Sadhana (or practice) is known as japa and is traditionally used during meditation.  In Tibetan Buddhism mala beads are typically made with 108 beads plus a "guru" or "meru" bead and a tassel of some sort.

 Why 108 beads?

The number 108 is sacred in Hinduism and theories as to why.  1. Chakras are the intersections of energy lines in the body and there are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra.  2. Some say there are 108 Upanishads, texts of the wisdom of the ancient sages.  3. In astrology there are 12 houses and 9 planets.  12 times 9 equals 108.  The list goes on and on...

It is said that only 100 mala repetitions on your mala beads are counted.  The other 8 are automatically dedicated to Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, or God.  Also, those 8 are counted towards the few times that our minds wander or we get distracted.  The larger guru bead is the beginning and end of each cycle as can represent the "container" or "holder" of your intentions and prayers.

What Else?

Traditionally the mantra is repeated one full cycle of 108 beads twice per day, for 40 days.  After this dedicated practice, the energy of the mantra/prayer becomes strongly embedded into the mala and can be worn as a reminder of the mantra or to keep the energy of the practice in your energetic space.

How Do I Take Care of My Mala?

*  I do not recommend wearing your mala while bathing, swimming, or any other activity that would entail your mala becoming submerged under water.

*  Due to the nature of the Earth-made materials used in your mala, please do not put chemicals, fragrances, or cleansers on your beads as they may damage the surface of the stones or affect their energetic qualities.

*  I recommend keeping your mala in the bag it came in, or in a safe spot away from direct sunlight.

*  If you wear your mala a lot then you may feel its energy become stagnant, or less palpable, periodically and you may need to energetically cleanse it.  My preferred way to do this is by dusting with the smoky of sage and/or palo santo.  You can also lay your mala on or around a chunk of Selenite or pink salt.  Once a month you can place your gemstone jewelry out under the full moon to cleanse the energy and charge with the moon's healing and nourishing light.