Japa Mala FAQ: Straight Answers to Important Questions

What is a Mala?

A Mala is a necklace or a string of beads used in Japa meditation. A full Mala has 108 beads. There are also Malas that are half that number as well as wrist Malas with 27 beads. It is a guide for counting every repetition of prayers, mantras, or breaths in meditation. Japa Mala beads are usually made of Rudraksha seeds and various healing crystals and gemstones, like clear quartz or amethyst.

When and where did Mala beads originate?

Japa Mala beads seem to have appeared somewhere around 8th century BCE in India. The word “Mala” is a Sanskrit term that means garland. Today, Mala is used mainly in religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism.         

Why 108 beads?

The number 108 has numerous symbolical associations. For one, there are 108 letters in the 108 alphabets. Vedic mathematicians use the number in many proportions. 108 also has a wide range of associations in Buddhist and Hindu religions. There are also 108 marmas or intersection points of energy lines in the body.

What does the guru bead stand for?

The bead connected to the tassel, called guru bead, serves as a reminder to pause and reflect in between rounds of Japa. It is not counted (it is the 109th bead) nor touched during prayer. It is believed to carry your energy from the meditation. Especially when it is made out of healing crystals and gemstones, it can remind you of your intention for practicing meditation.

What benefits does a Japa Mala bead bring?

The material used in a Japa Mala bead has properties that attune to metaphysical energies. Each healing crystal or gemstone is receptive of particular intentions. They can amplify the intention you are sending to the Universe, helping you making their manifestation into reality realizable.

Can I wear my Mala beads?

Yes, they can be worn both as a bracelet or necklace. Some display them while some wear them under clothing or put them in a pocket. Ideally, there is a separate Mala that you use exclusively for meditation that you don’t show to the public.

What are the benefits of wearing my Mala?

The healing crystal or gemstone which your Mala is made brings your intention. As such, it helps you direct your energy from the goal towards the fruition.

What is the proper way of doing a Japa Mala bead meditation?

Hold the Mala with your right hand with the thumb and middle finger touching the bead. The index is extended outward and should never touch the bead. One bead is one repetition of mantra or breath. Shift from one bead to the next towards your direction. The guru bead is not part of the count and shouldn’t be touched. Simply reverse the Mala at the 108th bead for another round of mantra.

I’m a leftie, can I use my left hand instead?

There is a tradition that the left hand is believed to be impure so the right hand is used. Nonetheless, you can always opt to use your dominant hand.

I missed a bead during Japa. What should I do?

You can either recite the number of mantras you’ve missed on a single bead, or you can add any left-out number of mantras at the 108th bead.

I’ve touched the guru bead during meditation. What should I do?

Getting used to your Japa Mala bead while meditating may take some time. Having a hard time avoiding the guru bead means that you have to focus more on your meditation.

How do I tap into the energy imbued in the Japa Mala bead’s material?

It is empowered through constant use. It is recommended that you meditate every day for 40 days straight when you receive your Mala for the first time. If you’re using it for the first time, make sure it is cleansed and blessed first. The Mala Tree Crystal Shop can do this for you. The healing crystals and gemstones will be on its full potential when it is regularly cleansed and programmed.