Monk Blessed Authentic Buddhist Prayer Beads & 108 Mala Beads Meditation Necklaces
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How to Use Buddhist Prayer Beads for Meditation

If you meditate regularly or practice yoga, you’ve probably come across mala beads before. You may be wondering how to use Buddhist Prayer Beads Mala as part of your Meditation practice.

Mala beads, commonly known as a Japa mala or simply a mala, are a type of prayer beads that have been used for centuries by a range of religions in the classic form of a 108 Bead Necklace.

What are Buddhist Prayer Beads made of?

Traditional Buddhist Prayer Beads Malas are made using organic materials such as plant seed, wood, and animal bone, which are carved or shaped into rounded beads. Today Malas can be made using a wide variety of gemstones with claims of specific healing properties. Although this is a modern western interpretation of various new Age philosophies and not something most Buddhist believe when they use Buddhist Prayer Beads for Mediation. 

The aim of Mediation is to release yourself from material bonds and attachments by stilling the mind of such thoughts. This is best done using plain simple wood or stone Mala, rather than attempt to introduce concepts of healing with gemstone Mala that are typical made to appeal to the beauty of the material.

Counting Mantra with a Japa Meditation Necklace

A Buddhist Mala Bead Necklace is a string of 108 prayer beads that when used in meditation is primarily for counting mantras or breaths taken. Buddhist Prayer Bead Mala’s are meant to ground the practice of meditation and recitation of mantras. Prayer Bead Mala Necklace can also be used in ways other than just meditation. They are often used for a Talisman and Charm.

Having and using a Prayer Bead Mala Necklace can help expand your meditative and spiritual practice when used in Japa Meditation.  Meditation can improve physical function by helping reduce stress levels, improve sleep, and lower blood pressure, among many other things.

But meditation isn’t always easy. Many people find it hard, especially in the beginning, to keep their mind from wandering off. That’s where mala beads come in.  Mala beads have the purpose of keeping you focused during meditation.  Therefore the Mala Bead can be used in any religious context or simply as a Stress Release Exercise, similar to Stress Release Hypnosis

How to use Buddhist Prayer Beads Mala Necklace for Japa Meditation

The easiest and most popular form of Meditation in both Hindu and Buddhist forms is the called Mantra Meditation or Japa Meditation.  Mantras are either a meaningless slogan or spiritual statement used to focus the wandering mind and gain mental stillness and clarity.

Using a Meditation Mantra is called Japa Meditation and each Mantra is repeated hundreds or even thousands of times during a Japa meditation practice. Focusing on the Mantra, allows the meditating person to clear the intrusive conscious thoughts to zero in on just one thought and aids in the purpose of stilling the Mind.

The purpose of meditation is to still the mind, and keeping track of how many mantras you recite during your Japa meditation requires concentration and active conscious thinking. The mala is used so that one can focus on the meaning or sound of the mantra rather than counting its repetitions. One repetition of the mantra is usually said for each bead while turning the thumb around each bead.

This process is repeated and when arriving at the head or guru bead, the person meditating turns the mala around and then goes back in the opposing direction. Typically one cycle of Mantras is about 100, (sometimes 108) but generally what ever philosophy of Japa you are using, by the time you reach 108 counts you start a new cycle.

If more than 108 repetitions are to be done, or the style of mediation requires suggested numbers of mantra repetitions then counting devices can be added to the Mala.

How to use Buddhist Prayer Bead Step one

How to use Buddhist Prayer Beads: Holding the Mala Beads

How to use Tibetan/Buddhist Prayer Beads Step 1

First Identify the guru bead. The guru bead, will hang off the counting beads at the middle bottom of the Mala Necklace. The guru bead is intended to be used as a place of rest and contemplation during meditations and mantra recitations. Monk Mala will have Guru beads that are connected to a tassel.

The guru bead will be where you begin and end your meditation or mantra.

How to use Tibetan/Buddhist Prayer Beads Necklace

Place the Prayer Beads Mala in your hand of choice.  Some cultures use the left hand for toilet cleanup and it is consider impure, so they use the right hand. However, there are many other cultures and traditions that do not specify in which hand you need to place the mala. If the tradition of meditation you are using specifies a hand for counting it is best to use that hand. Otherwise use what is most comfortable for you.

How to use Buddhist Prayer Bead Mala

Hang the mala beads on your third finger. Place your Prayer Beads Mala on your third, or ring, finger before you begin reciting mantras or meditating. The third finger has a symbolic significance in many Buddhist traditions. However placing the mala on your third finger will also allow you to efficiently cycle through the mala throughout. There is however no best way of how to use Buddhist Prayer Beads with your meditation and mantra recitations.

How to use Buddhist Prayer Beads for Meditation

How to use Buddhist Prayer Beads: Counting the Mala Beads

How to use Buddhist Prayer Bead Step 2

Using your thumb to rotate through each bead and then count each mantra or breathe. Your thumb should allow you to easily move through each bead that is held by one of your fingers. Using your thumb to pull each bead toward you and cycle through your Prayer Beads until you reach the Guru Bead.

How to use Buddhist Prayer Bead Step 2.1

Continue until you reach the Guru Bead, but do not count it. At this point you can take a moment for reflection and decide if you will continue or stop your meditation. If you would like to end your meditation, simply remove the mala and put it in a clean and safe place.

If you wish to continue …..

How to use Buddhist Prayer Bead Step 2.2

Flip the mala around and continue counting. If you are reciting your mantra in repetitions, or want a longer meditation, flip the mala around once you reach the guru bead. Take the mala and turn it so the guru bead is just below your thumb. Once your Mala is in the start position again, continue counting each bead as you have done throughout your meditation or mantra recitation.

Image Source Acknowledgement: This article “How to use Buddhist Prayer Beads” has been adapted from, and images used from Wikihow

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