How do you use a Mala/Prayer Beads?

Using 108 Mala beads for meditation or mantra practice is a traditional and meaningful practice in Buddhism. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use 108 Mala beads:

  1. Choose Your Mala: Select a Mala with 108 beads. Traditionally, this Mala consists of 108 smaller beads plus one larger bead or pendant known as the Guru bead. The Guru bead is not counted among the 108 and is used as a marker.

  2. Set an Intention: Before you begin your meditation or mantra practice, set a clear intention or purpose for your session. This can be a specific mantra you want to recite, a goal you want to achieve, or simply a desire for inner peace and mindfulness.

  3. Hold the Mala: Hold the Mala in your dominant hand. Begin at the bead next to the Guru bead, which is usually the 109th bead if you include the Guru bead.

  4. Start Your Practice: As you recite your mantra or engage in your meditation, move your fingers over each bead, one at a time. With each repetition of your mantra or breath cycle, slide one bead between your thumb and forefinger, moving in a clockwise direction. This is done by holding the Mala with your thumb and middle finger and using your index finger to move the beads.

  5. Mantra Recitation: As you touch each bead, recite your chosen mantra or focus on your breath. Continue this process for each of the 108 beads.

  6. Pause at the Guru Bead: When you reach the Guru bead again, this marks the completion of one full rotation of the Mala. At this point, you can pause briefly to reflect on your practice, offer gratitude, or set a new intention if you wish to continue.

  7. Reverse Direction: If you want to continue your practice, you can reverse the direction and start moving in a counterclockwise direction without touching the Guru bead.

  8. Completion and Reflection: When you've completed your desired number of rounds or feel that your meditation session is complete, stop at the Guru bead one final time. This is a moment for reflection and closing your practice.

  9. Care for Your Mala: After your practice, treat your Mala with care and respect. Store it in a clean and sacred space, and avoid letting it touch the ground.

Using a 108 beads Mala can be a powerful tool for deepening your meditation practice, enhancing mindfulness, and achieving a sense of inner peace. Specific mantras are said to release powerful spiritual energy when it is recited 100,000 times. For example, you can make a vow to recite The Great Compassionate Mantra 100,000 times to pray for good health or recite the Cundi Dharani 100,000 times to pray for smooth and positive outcome of certain situation. To keep track of the number of recitation, you may use mala counters.


Mala counters consists of 2 strands of beads, with 10 counter beads on each strand. One of the strings usually has the vajra at the end, and the other the bell. Where these strings are placed on the mala is totally up to you. Tibetans usually have theirs after the 6th bead on either side of the guru bead.


Steps on how to use the Mala Counters:

1. Ensure the beads on both mala counters are pushed towards the charm.

2. Decide on which counter (vajra or bell, sometimes it can be other charms) to represent hundreds and which to represent thousands. Usually, the vajra counter is for hundreds and the bell for thousands.

3. Move one bead forward on the "hundred" counter once you have completed the recitation of mantra for 108 times (one mala). Continue moving one bead forward with each complete round of 108 recitation.

4. After all the 10 beads on the "hundred" counter has been moved forward, move one bead forward on the "thousand" counter and reset the "hundred" counter.

5. Continue in this manner, you will be able to count up to 10,000 mantra recitations.

To continue keeping track of the recitations, you can use a bum counter. Bum counters are metal "clips" used between the beads on your mala. After you finish the first 10,000 mantra recitations, you put the bum counter after the first bead next to the guru bead. For the next 10,000 recitations, remove the bum counter and place it after the second bead and so on.  After finish the second 10,000 recitations, take off the bum counter and put it after the second bead...and continue like this.

May you find peace in your meditation/chanting journey and be blessed with abundance of merits. Shop for our mala beads here.

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