Buddhist prayer beads or malas are a traditional tool used to count the number of times a mantra is recited. They are similar to Catholic rosary beads used in prayer though they tend to have 59 beads and finish in a cross or crucifix. Misbahah are muslim prayer beads, usually in strings of 99 beads.
Mala necklaces consist of 108 beads plus a 109th Guru bead and are used to count the number of times a mantra or breaths are repeated.
The beads are usually knotted in between to provide separation, making it easier to pass each individual bead between your thumb and index finger. The knots also have the added benefit of reducing the chance of losing a bead if the necklace breaks. Wearing the mala as a necklace or as a bracelet throughout the day is supposed to help you manifest the power of the gemstones its made from. It also serves as a reminder for your daily meditation practice. It is customary to give gratitude to teachers and the most important people in your life when you reach the guru bead. The necklaces often have a tassel or pendant attached after the guru bead which helps to mark the end of your mantra sequence.
Meditation positively affects the brain and mood and helps you to relax. If practised in the morning it can provide you with a way of setting a positive intention for the day, leading to a happier, more positive or productive day.
If you’d like to experience these benefits why not start by following our guide below to make your own mala bead necklace…
108 x 8mm beads (Semi-precious beads are great for this – why not check out our blog post about healing crystals to select the best beads for you.)
1 x 8mm Guru bead
Flexible beading needle
Depending on the hole size of your beads, you may need to double your S-lon. You can test this by taking a small piece of S-lon making a single overhand knot and threading on one bead. If the bead slides over the knot, the knot needs to be bigger. The easiest (and neatest) way of doing this is by doubling up the S-lon and making an overhand knot with both cords held together.
- Cut a minimum of 4 metres of s-lon. Thread on a flexible needle, sliding it to halfway along with equal ends.
- Make an overhand knot with both ends 15cm from tail.
- Thread on 54 beads, knot between each (see video below).
- Thread on guru bead, then the tassel and go back in the opposite direction through the guru bead and knot.
- Add the rest of the beads, knotting in between, leaving the last 3 beads off at the end.
- Thread 1 bead on the tail end (beginning) and the remaining 2 beads on the end with the needle, without knots in between.
- Take the tail end through the bead on the other end going in the opposite direction, so the threads cross.
- Knot each thread either side of the bead, then take the thread through the next beads, and trim. Add a small amount of glue such as GS Hypo Cement to the knots (see image below).
We filmed a short video to show one way of knotting between beads;
If you’re still feeling a little unsure about making your own Mala beads. We also run Mala Bead workshops, or individual 1-2-1 sessions to help you make your own.