What is a Mala? Malas are prayer beads worn during meditation. They are used Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Shintō. I will be addressing the use of Mala beads in Buddhist meditation.
The construction of a Mala is as follows: it contains 108 beads, one Guru bead and a silk tassel. The 108 beads are use to keep count in mantra meditation or prayer. You do not count the guru bead in meditation nor is it included in the 108. The number 108 has many interpretations. Malas are traditionally made from sandalwood beads. However, malas can be made from any number of wood, stone, or gemstone beads ranging from 6mm to 10mm. Silk thread is used to string the beads and a silk tassel for the completion.
In Western culture, we have our interpretation of the Mala. In respect to Yoga, meditation and Buddhism we focus on the chakras. There are seven chakras: Root, Sacral, Solar Plexus, Heart, Throat, Third Eye, and Crown. Each one has its designated color, physical and emotional attribute.
The Mala can be made with one kind of stone or wood bead, or it can be made with multiple kinds. When choosing bead colors you can use one or all of the chakra colors, or choose stones that resonate with you based on meaning of the stone(s), or it can be purely an aesthetic choice because you like the way it looks.
Gemstones Broken Down by Chakra
- RED (Root Chakra): Ruby, Garnet, Black Tourmaline,
- ORANGE (Sacral Chakra): Citrine, Carnelian, Tiger Eye, Orange Aventurine, Bloodstone, Hemitite, Red Coral
- YELLOW (Solar Plexus Chakra): Yellow Aventurine, Yellow Jade, Yellow Jasper.
- GREEN (Heart Chakra): Jade, Green Tourmaline, Kyanite, Green Aventurine, Emerald.
- BLUE (Throat Chakra): Sapphire, Blue Lace Agate, Lapis Lazuli Turquoise, Sodalite.
- INDIGO (Third Eye): Blue Aura Quartz, Fluorite, Lavender Opal, Amethyst
- PURPLE (Crown Chakra): Amethyst, and Quartz.
These are but a few of the numerous types of natural gemstone beads that are available as well as wood beads. The first step is to research your materials, then design your Mala. You can play with the numerical patterns to create your design. For instance, the factors of 108 are: 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, 18, 27, 36, 54. You can have a repeating pattern of 6 beads separated by 3 bead spacer which is equal to 9. So you will need to repeat that pattern 12 times to equal 108. If it seems confusing, don’t worry. Once you see your visual pattern laid out it all makes sense.
Malas are beautiful expressions of the mind, body, and spirit. They are hand knotted with silk thread, placing a knot between each bead. Once all the beads are on attach your Guru Bead (optional) and the silk tassel. Secure the last knot with a dab of super glue and admire your art.
If you have any questions about Mala, or gemstones please feel free to drop a line. Please like, share and subscribe. Thank you,