What the Mala beads are
The word “Mala” is a Sanskrit word for ‘garland,’ which is worn on the head, or around the neck like a necklace. Therefore, the Mala beads refer to a necklace made up of beads, or the entire Mala bead necklace or bracelet may be further enhanced with the inclusion of a diverse choice of materials. Wood, glass, precious and semi-precious stones can make them wearable, functional pieces of art that border on the spiritual side.
You’d agree it’s a refreshing and uplifting experience. So, take a minute and digest this. It’s venerated, centuries-old religious tradition. It has become even more meaningful, effective, empowering, and pleasant to carry out. Regardless of the time, wherever you are.
And it’s around your neck or your wrist, most of the time. So, every time you need to meditate and take a moment of solitude, you’re good to go! You simply find a suitable and safe spot to hang around, take off the necklace or bracelet, and start your meditation or prayers. In today’s new normal when people spend more hours at home, it can become a ‘must do’ for many.
Mala beads bracelets and necklaces
Mala beads basically come in 3 different types and lengths. The shortest one is the bracelet type that has 18, 21, or 27 beads, with a Guru or master bead. Next is the short necklace with 54-bead plus 1 Guru or master bead. The last is the full necklace consisting of 108 beads, and the Guru or master bead. The number 108 is a divine Hindu number designated to a Hindu Deity or God.
Ideal sizes of Mala beads
Mala bead sizes that are commonly used are the 8mm (medium) and the 6mm (small) beads. The single Guru bead is ideally larger than the other beads. It is the first bead meditated on, and touched. Then you work around the rest of the other beads in the loop, and complete it once you get to the last bead, beside the Guru bead.
Since the Mala bead necklace is also worn around the neck, the Guru bead then hangs at the bottom. The full 108-bead necklace can be worn un-looped so it hangs really low, almost reaching the belly button or navel. For a shorter person, looping it would be recommended.
It’s also quite versatile. It can be looped twice or thrice, giving you 2 other alternative shorter necklace lengths. Then it looks more current and fashionable. For added aesthetics, some are embellished with a precious or semi-precious stone just below the Guru bead. And then a tassel is fitted and hangs from the stone.
Mala beads bracelet, necklace, and the 108-bead full necklace
The Mala beads have been depended on as a religious accessory to make meditation much easier, pleasant, and effective. Its different versions, as a full and short necklaces, and wrist band or bracelet, help us not to default on our religious and spiritual duties. A full Mala bead accessory is composed of 108 beads, a number which has a special religious and historic association.
When you’re invoking the same word, mantra, or prayer over and over as you go from one bead to the next, it’s easy to get distracted. You lose concentration no matter how focused you think you are. Once you get your bearings back, just continue from the bead you last touched. You don’t need to count or remember the number of beads you’ve gone through.
There’s a fixed or definite number of beads for a Mala bead necklace or bracelet you’re using. When distracted, or you lose focus momentarily, you only need to continue. Once you get to the last bead, that’s it. You have completed it. You either stop, or do another round. If you do, you move in the opposite direction. It’s bad luck to cross over the Guru bead, remember that.
As regards the Mala 108-bead necklace, the sheer number of beads to go through may be daunting. Again, it’s a fixed number. No need to count the beads. Don’t drop your Mala beads while meditating or praying. Just follow the same suggestion stated above when distraction and interruptions occur. Don’t even worry about missteps or missing a bead or two. That’s what the 8 beads are for: to compensate for them.
A variation in the Mala 108-bead necklace is a version in which the beads are apportioned into 4 sets. That’s 27 beads for a round or a set. Each set is separated from the others by ‘spacers.’ Spacers are composed of 3 beads, one just as big as the primary beads but of a different colour or hue, placed in between 2 smaller beads of a different hue as well. When viewed as a whole, these spacers also function as accents to the entire Mala bead necklace. The result is an even more appealing and attractive Mala necklace.
Mala beads from the Budhi trees
The more common and popular mala beads are called Bodhi beads. They are often seen worn by Tibetan natives. They are the seeds of the Bodhi tree and it is said to be the tree that Buddha meditated on for 6 years prior to reaching nirvana. They use the seeds of the Bodhi tree for Bodhi beads, which measure around 12mm in diameter and can be priced around $10,000!
Mala beads are versatile. Regardless of its configuration, a complete 108-bead necklace, the shorter version, and the bracelet option, they both offer dual purpose: as an aid to completing repeated prayers, and as a means to achieve meditation.
As it can also function as a piece of ornamentation, one can wear it just like one would wear a necklace or a bracelet. It serves dual purpose: wearable ornamentation so you can take it with you all the time, which allows you to meditate and pray any time and in any venue you happen to be.