Complete guide to using Tibetan Buddhist Beads for meditation

Complete guide to using Tibetan Buddhist Beads for meditation

The use of beaded bracelets has developed beyond than just being used as items of fashion–they are now widely used for spiritual use. The Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains and Yogis all use bracelets in their prayers and meditations. In the Tibetan and Buddhist traditions these beads are sacred and highly potent spiritual materials for worship, praying or chanting and even to effect healing and relaxation.


What is a Buddhist Bracelet?

A Mala or Buddhist bracelet is an item of Tibetan and Buddhist prayer or worship. A full sized Buddhist mala consists of a string of beads numbering up to 108, but a bracelet mala will have a fraction of this number. The beads are counted starting from the biggest bead or the Guru bead and moved down with the thumb to the next as the prayer progresses. The mala keeps a mental focus when praying or reciting the name of a deity; it also helps in keeping count of the prayer round. The word Mala is actually from the Sanskrit which refers to the holding and counting of the prayer beads or bracelets.

How to Wear Buddhist Prayer Bracelets

Wrist malas or Buddhist bracelets are specifically designed to be worn on one’s wrist. Wrist Malas use an elastic cord that stretches around the hand to be worn as a bracelte. Many Buddhist bracelets can be worn at once–this is commonly called a “mala stack.” Traditionally mala beads are worn on the right hand, but many yogis wear them on both.

Do you have to be a Buddhist to wear mala beads?

No. Since almost every spiritual tradition has some form of prayer beads, using and wearing a mala is considered a universal practice. It is important to wear, use and store your prayer beads with respect and reverence.

How Many Beads are on Buddhist and Tibetan Bracelets?

The Buddhist and Tibetan bracelets come in a variety of numbers and size depending on the number of rounds of prayers or chanting to be made. Wrist Malas come in 18, 22, 21 and 27 beads. These are all divisions of the full mala consisting of 108 beads. This number is calculated astrologically as representing the 12 astrological houses multiplied by the 9 solar planets.

What are the Kinds of Beads used for Tibetan Bracelets?

Tibetan Buddhist bracelets are made from many different materials. Some are made from coral beads or wood materials other are made from silicon and semiprecious stones as the case may be. It is also believed that the electric charge of the material used for making the Malas or Buddha bracelets also enhances prayers or chanting when used properly. Also the colors of the material used is believed to have a good or negative astrological influence on the user.

How to use Buddhist Beads for Meditation

Usage of Mala or Buddhist beads for prayer or chanting starts by counting it from the biggest bead which is also called the Guru Bead or the Bead Head. At the conclusion of a prayer, chanting, mantra or the reciting of the name of a deity, the bead is moved using the thumb to the next bead. When you reach the Guru Bead, kit means you have concluded a circle of prayer. You can start another round of prayer if it is your wish by turning the other way round. Crossing the Guru heads is a sign of disrespect for the Deity or the Godhead.

- Japa Mala Beads -

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