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Buddhist Prayer Beads

Mala Buddhist prayer beads may come in a long chain of small or medium beads with knots between them. They are accented by a larger bead or tassel, sometimes called a totem. Mala beads may also be in the form of a bracelet, or come loose in a kit that you can knot yourself.

How are Buddha prayer beads used?

The beads, also known as malas, are used in Buddhism as a meditation or prayer tool. Buddhists, and often people who just want to encourage a sense of inner peace, utilize malas as a way to focus their thoughts or practice mantras.

You can use mala beads to recite Buddhist chants, mantras, or prayers. You can also use them as a tool for reciting a deity's name in repetition. Or, you can silently meditate as a way to help bring yourself to a state of mindfulness.

How many beads are in a Buddhist prayer bracelet?

A mala may have 18, 54, or 108 beads. Tibetan mala beads have 108 beads. Some Buddhist prayer jewelry has 216 beads. The number 108 has particular significance in Buddhism. Some people believe that there are 108 stages of the human soul's journey. Others associate the number of beads with the number of chakras or energy lines running through the body.

What are mala beads made of?

Almost any durable material can be used for mala beads in a prayer bracelet or necklace. Each type offers a different look, feel, and level of warmth in your fingers.

Some of the most common materials used in mala beads include:

  • Sandalwood: This fine-grained Indian wood is a favorite for mala beads. Sandalwood's sweet, woody scent can last for many years, which adds to its attractiveness as a jewelry material.
  • Rosewood: The rich, warm hues of these tropical trees make for beautiful Buddhist prayer bracelets and necklaces.
  • Natural stones and pebbles: Natural stone has a smooth, cool feel that lends itself wonderfully to meditation with a mala.
  • Bamboo: The natural look and feel of bamboo are attractive qualities for use in mala beads. Bamboo is also lightweight, adding to its benefits for a mala.
  • Glass: Beads made of glass have a heavy feel, and they're available in a huge range of colors, shapes, and sizes.
  • Amethyst: This purple-hued variety of quartz is commonly used in all kinds of jewelry, including mala beads. Amethyst comes in varying shades of purple, adding interest to your mala.
  • Jade: One of the main attractions of jade is that its color and transparency can vary to extremes. You may prefer a light green, nearly white jade mala or choose a deep blue-green mala with rich graining.
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