Following the Thread: Cultural Meanings of Mala Beads

I wanted to share a little with you about one of my favorite treasures that is part of the sacred practices I have in my toolbox. My Mala.

The fun part about having a variety of items in my spiritual toolkit is the ability to pull something out when you need it. I used to try and be very specific about my daily practice, so much so that I lost my passion for it.

You too?
I thought so.

My intention for this post is to breathe life back into your daily practice by helping you create a sacred practice and in doing so help expand your tool kit.

I remember before I got my first mala seeing people have them, being drawn to them and at the same time having no clue what to do with a mala or how to honor the tradition.

I currently have 6 malas.

I bought my first mala on the streets of Egypt from a group of three older women outside of a temple we visited.

My second mala came from India, again outside of a temple we visited. They sat on my altar never used. I admired them and they were special travel souvenirs that gave me a little smile when I saw them.

In 2020, a friend of mine gave me an amethyst mala she had hand tied herself. It was beautiful and being of gemstone it totally drew me in. I wore it everyday for weeks. I felt the energy of the amethyst and the love my friend hand infused into it as she made it.

Then I started learning more.

The mala is made of 108 beads plus a guru bead, a sacred tradition used for thousands of years in India.

The practice and number 108 are rooted in the dharmic religions such as Hindu, Buddhist, and Yogic traditions.

Rub the 108 beads as you repeat your mantra or prayer, one bead for each repetition. The guru bead is said to hold the energy you generate during your practice. I like to pause and breathe several breaths while holding my guru bead at the completion of saying my mantra.

You might have also heard the term “jaap” to refer to your mantra.

Using your mala while repeating a mantra, prayer or mindful declaration will anchor the statement deep into your soul while sharing the power of your intention with the Universe.

Traditional malas are made of sandalwood, rosewood, or seed beads. More common in western culture are beaded malas made from gemstones.

Sandalwood is used because of its strong aromatic properties. Rubbing each bead allows for the release of the aroma and its power. Sandalwood is a soothing wood with roots in ancient times. It is believed to vitalize your energy and manifest your wishes. When used in meditation, it aids in manifesting your mantras.

Using your mala during intention setting or meditation can deepen the experience for you.

It can defeat the purpose if you start your morning with an intention setting daily practice, leave your house, get frustrated and lose track of your intention. Carrying your mala with you is a great way to stay connected to your intention throughout the day.

I like to wear mine around my neck after using it in meditation as a way to stay connected with my intention throughout the day. If I’m not at my desk I may wear it as a bracelet. Either way each time I see it or touch it I feel the energy of my intention again.

Matthew uses his and hangs it on the lamp at the corner of his desk to keep it in eyesight throughout the day.

I met a woman who told me about her beautiful mala that she has hanging on her wall. She doesn’t use it because she’s afraid it might break. I felt that for her and knew I had done the same with mine before.

Tradition says that if your mala does break it signifies the breaking of an old pattern or belief that no longer serves you.

That means if your mala breaks it fulfilled it’s purpose for you. So use that beautiful mala to support you in intention setting and your spiritual journey.

Don’t have a mala?

We’ve got you covered!

We offer a variety of traditional and gemstone malas available in our shop.