Malas the translation from Sanskrit as “heavenly garland,” Malas are used to count mantras, prostrations, names of the Buddha, sacred prayer, or affirmations.
A mala’s true benefit is activated when your bright awareness brings your intention and commitment to the recitations. In Buddhism a mala is made of 108 beads crafted from seeds, stone or wood.
The strength and function of the Six-Character Great Bright Mantra are inconceivable, the intertwining of the response and way unimaginable; therefore, it is called the Secret School. If one were to explain in detail, the meanings would be immeasurable and unlimited; they cannot be completely spoken.
What are Malas?
Malas are used for keeping count while reciting, chanting, or mentally repeating a mantra or the name or names of a deity. This sādhanā(practice) is known in Sanskrit as japa. Malas are typically made with 18, 27, 54 or 108 beads.
Malas are ubiquitous in Tibetan Buddhist communities all over the world, wrapped around wrists or dangling from fingers, accompanying the humming recitations of mantras like “Om Mani Padme Hum”, Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha, or Om Muni Muni Maha Muniye Soha. In Tibetan we call them trengwa.
Since a common part of Tibetan Buddhist practice is repeating (mentally or out loud) certain mantras thousands or even hundreds of thousands of times, it is useful to use your rosary for counting off the number of prayers, like a spiritual abacus. Even if you are not actively counting, the repeated recitation of the mantra while proceeding bead by bead through the mala serves to focus and calm the mind.
The most common type of mala is a string of 108 beads, made of precious or semi-precious stones, wood, seeds, or bone. Each time you work your way around the mala, saying a mantra for each bead, you are considered to have completed 100 mantra recitations. The extra 8 beads are “spare” to make up for any miscounts or mistakes you may make along the way.
There is also a head bead, one that is larger than the others, and it is often called a “guru bead.” Some believe that this bead has a special significance, as representing one’s guru, for example, but very practically, this bead is the starting point for the circuit, and is not counted among the 108 total.
Sometimes, malas will have some extra precious stones added at various intervals, like some turquoise or coral for example. These are sometimes added at intervals you can use for counting, like after 27 beads for example, so that you know you are 1/4 of the way through one circuit. These counter beads are extra, so your total bead count would be 111 rather than 108.
There is also a smaller, wrist-sized mala, made of 27 beads for example, that is often used when doing prostrations. In this case, the smaller size is wrapped around your hand and repeated 4 times. One can make other configurations, of 21 or 22, for example, and that is not a problem, as long as you can use your mala for counting.
How to Hold and Count with your Malas
We want to say, as is often true in Tibetan culture, that there are no strict rules when it comes to malas and the way to count your mantras. Everybody does it slightly differently. There are common ways of doing things but these do not matter nearly so much as your intention and your attitude of prayer. If you are praying from your heart while using your mala, you are doing the right thing!
Although some sources recommend using the mala in your left hand, some Tibetans also hold them in the right hand. If you have a prayer wheel in one hand and a mala in the other, it is more common to hold your mala in the left hand and the prayer wheel in the right.
To use your mala, start with the first bead next to the “guru” bead. Hold the bead between the index finger and thumb, and recite your mantra once out loud or silently. Then move on to the next bead with a rolling motion of your thumb, recite your mantra again and repeat. When you get to the guru bead again you have completed 100 mantras without needing to count each one.
Turquoise is one of the world's earliest-used gem materials. Ranked with the jades of the Orient and lapis in the Near East, turquoise has been revered for thousands of years. In the Southwestern United States, no gemstone has been held in greater esteem. Diggings at Chaco Canyon and other ancient sites have revealed tens of thousands of pieces of turquoise in various stages of lapidary treatment. Where ancient leaders were buried, the amount of turquoise present in the grave sites indicates that it was a stone of significance long ago. Hardly a deposit of turquoise was left undiscovered by the ancient ones.
Red Coral has been treasured for centuries by Tibetan Buddhists, and is considered by them to be the most precious natural “stone,” and the supreme mala material. Tibetan Coral is often very old and fossilized, and each bead is quite costly. There is a ban on harvesting new Mediterranean Red Coral, as the reefs have been greatly disturbed and are endangered, so we cannot offer new Red Coral. We offer real Pink Coral previously harvested from the Pacific, which is not endangered like the Mediterranean Red Coral. All Coral that has been harvested is increasing in value, and is very precious, as it will not always be available once the harvested lots are sold. Our Coral has been slightly color enhanced to bring out the rich redness in the Coral. These beads are very lovely, round, and regular, and are stabilized to hold the color well. Please note that all real coral is inherently porous, and should not be considered a defect.
Tridacna is the most white substance in the world, it is also a rare organic gemstone Buddhist relics. From gemstone point of view, tridacna calm shell has a pearl luster and glossy but has a pure white color, only the glossy and delicate textured calm shell can be chosen to make tridacna jewellery. Tridacna calm shell healing properties.
Lapis Lazuli has been used for more than 6,000 years for jewelry and ornamental objects. Lapis Lazuli is made up of 25 to 40 percent lazurite, plus several minerals (sodalite, hauyne, calcite, and pyrite) that influence the stones colors and inclusions. Mines in northeast Afghanistan and Pakistan are the major source of Lapis Lazuli.
White Yak Bones Using a bone mala is a reminder of impermanence – the more we contemplate impermanence and death the more fruitful our life becomes. Yak bone is also said to maintain good blood circulation.
METAPHYSICAL HEALING PROPERTIES
Agate: (Bostwana) Grounding Stone, dark, cool and earthy.
Amazonite: Improves self worth. One may find that one may have more confidence when one wears this stone.
Amber: Lift heaviness. Amber is great at lifting the heaviness of burdens — allowing happiness to come through, also absorbs impurities.
Amethyst: Spiritual Upliftment, and increasing richness. One may use Amethyst when one may need to communicate effectively. Associated with the stomach/liver. Inner alignment. This seems to balance the inner bodies (emotional, spiritual, etc.) as well as provide more energy. Clear energy blockages. Good for arthritis
Aquamarine: Reminds one of the ocean of love and mercy. It can help one understand difficult situations from a love-filled viewpoint. Aquamarine or rose quartz provide comfort for those who are experiencing a lot of grief.
Aventurine: Circulation, blood disorders, thyroid. One may get very happy when one wears this stone. One may also use this to help clear congestion/allergies.
Black Obsidian: Grounding stone. One may gaze into it for a very short time (1-5 minutes) each day for 3 days when one may need insight into a problem. This is used black obsidian when one may have been unable to understand something. This is a very strong, powerful stone.
Black Onyx: Helps one to change bad habits. One may have found it helps people notice their chakras when placed on each chakra. (This can be done one chakra at a time.) It is a great grounding stone. Really puts one in their body. This is extremely strong
Carnelian: Balance creativity and mental processes, increase passion and compassion. Carnelian is the carrier of the orange ray.
Chrysocholla: Spiritual protection. This stone allows one to work through issues without outside influences. Great when starting in management or working with large groups of people.
Citrine: Upliftment. One may wear this to help align the spine. Citrine encourages the yellow ray to support the body. This stone also helps one process energy work.
Coral: Emotional Foundation. Coral protects and strengthens one’s emotional foundation. Opening of Heart, self acceptance.
Diamond, Faceted Quartz, Swarovski Crystal: One may increase personal clarity. One may find this aligns one with the higher purpose as well as offers many healing properties. One may have had profound results with diamond therapy.
Emerald/Nephrite Jade: Physical and emotional healing. This is the strongest physical healing gemstone that one may know.
Fluorite: Hormone Balance. This stone has been helpful with hormonal changes such as PMS and menopause.
Fresh Water Pearl: Enable one to accept love. See the good parts of oneself so you can love yourself and others more. Protection; Know mother’s love. This stone is a great protective stone.
Green Aventurine Jade: Physical healing. This is the stone one would choose for overall healing support. For major illnesses.
Jade: Relaxation and prosperity. Used to reduce tension in the life. One may find that one is am calmer when one wears jade. Traditional for good luck.
Lapis: Understand the mind. Expanding your viewpoint. It is good for connecting the heart and the mind when worn over the heart. Medicine Buddha.
Mother of Pearl: Helps one accept others by cleansing blocks, cleansing and purifying.
Red Jasper (Bloodstone): Gain a positive outlook. one may find that one is very happy when one may wear this stone.
Rhodochrosite: Change. Gives one confidence while making desired changes. Very supportive. One can make large changes very quickly with this stone.
Rhodonite: Emotional support. Helps one take the next step emotionally.
River Stone: Emotional Support, grounding. This is used this stone to help the mind and the emotions be in sync. When worn by itself is balances yin/yang.
Rose Quartz: Balance. One may find is wonderfully soothing. Emotional balance. Very good for expressing and soothing emotions.
Sodalite/ Denim Lapis: Protects from external negative energy. This is used it by computers to help reduce the damage from EMF.
Tree/Green Agate: Introspection. Helps one view themselves with more clarity and see the world through a broader viewpoint.
Turquoise: Turquoise is known as a master healer stone, with the ability to repair physical injury, mental strife and even past life trauma. Turquoise healing properties promote communication and will help solve petty arguments and resolve hostilities. It can also help people who wear it to gain wisdom. Turquoise healing properties can even protect the wearer from harm by absorbing negative influences.
Unakite: Balances physical/emotions.