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What are Mala Beads and How do They Work?

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

What are Mala Beads?

Mala Beads, or japamala, are a traditional tool used for yogic meditation as well as for a number of different spiritual and meditation-based practices worldwide. Traditionally, Mala Beads contain 108 beads, each individually knotted into its place in the necklace. The number 108 is considered to be a sacred number in yoga which represents the unity and wholeness of existence, and the meditation practitioner is instructed to use their Mala as a guide to complete 108 focused repetitions of a mantra or an intention that they wish to manifest in their lives.

About the Beads and Variations of Mala:

Mala’s come in different sizes and can use many different kinds of beads and layouts. Some are made of wood while others utilize specific gemstone combinations to infuse extra power into one’s meditation practice. Bead sizes vary, but most commonly you will see them in 6mm, 8mm, or 10mm bead sizes. Like many things in life, the size doesn’t matter when it comes to Mala Beads. However, the bigger the bead, the longer the Mala. We list the total length of each of our Mala’s so you can find a string and test out the length to make sure you’re happy with it!

All Mala’s have an additional bead called the Guru Bead, which is the first bead above the tassel and bigger than the rest. The Guru Bead represents the bond between a teacher and a student, whether that be a physical teacher who guides one’s path, or the teacher within whom we are all seeking to find and become one. Additionally, some Mala’s have an additional 1-3 extra beads above the 108 and the Guru Bead. These are known as mindfulness beads and are skipped in the repetition of our mantra or intention. They serve to check the attention of the practitioner and help to keep us mindfully on track. These beads can be smaller or larger than the 108 beads and will feel slightly different to the touch. They help us to make sure we aren’t just mindlessly ‘counting off’ mantra or intentions to reach our 108 goal while our mind wanders to other things. They help us stay focused and mindful to make sure we are paying attention and connected in each moment with what it is we are hoping to manifest through our meditation practice. In a practical sense, they also change the length of the Mala so if you like to double wrap your Mala around your neck and happen to have a bit of a large skull, the mindfulness beads may actually make your Mala fit better!

How To Use Your Mala:

Find a comfortable seated position and place the Guru Bead of your Mala in both hands. Choose your mantra (if you have one), or any intention or positive affirmation of something you would like to cultivate or manifest in your life. It may be a single word like peace, happiness, or health. It may be a short phrase or affirmation which lends more specificity to your manifestations. The question is simply, what do you need more of in your life right now to help you achieve peace and a deeper connection to your spiritual self? There is no wrong answer!

Once you’ve chosen your affirmation, close your eyes and intentionally (in your mind or out loud) say your affirmation to your Guru Bead as you ask the universe, God, your spiritual guide or teacher (physical or historical), or maybe just your own inner teacher or highest spiritual self to guide you in the manifestation of this intention.

Then moving towards the right side of the Guru Bead you’ll pull the first bead into your right fingertips, feel the sensation of the bead, and repeat your affirmation. Then pull the second bead into the fingers of your right hand and repeat. Continue this process all the way around until you’ve returned to the Guru Bead and have completed the practice. If your Mala has mindfulness beads, they are felt but skipped, we do not repeat our affirmation on a mindfulness bead. The goal is to keep your mind 100% focused on your affirmation or intention from start to finish. If you notice your mind wandering off, no need to start over again! Just refocus and keep going. Every time you use your Mala your focus will improve, as will your ability to manifest what you need in your life!

What Makes Our Mala Unique:

  • They are 100% handmade and hand-knotted in the Canadian wilderness where they are infused with nature’s energy and unconditional love. These are not made by a knotting machine and are not produced in a sweatshop in China. Even our tassels are time-consumingly handmade. Most ‘handmade’ Mala’s still purchase their tassels in bulk from China, but not ours!

  • We use nylon cordage instead of silk. Although silk is more traditional and an all-natural substance, anyone who wears their Mala regularly knows, they also fray and break much more quickly. Once you have broken a Mala, it’s no small task to fix it! Every bead needs to be individually cut out and then the entire Mala needs to be re-tied with a new tassel. Using nylon cordage will, on average, quadruple the length of life of your beautiful Mala. Need a Mala repair? Please contact us and we’d be happy to give you a quote (not to mention a much better nylon chord so it lasts longer next time)!

  • Our Mala’s are all one of a kind. We don’t order in bulk batches to crank out hundreds of the same item. Each one of these Mala you see have been individually designed with a purpose, and made to stand alone, just for you!

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