Mala beads are traditional Buddhist prayer beads, referred to as juzu in the Japanese traditions. Although the number of beads differs between Buddhist traditions, most full mala have 108 beads and smaller wrist mala have 27 beads, plus two same-sized or slightly smaller, different-colored dividing beads. Both types of mala have an additional large bead known as the Buddha bead or guru bead. Although the 108-bead mala is most often used by Buddhist priests and monks in a temple setting, the wrist mala is beneficial to meditation and mindfulness practitioners. Make your own wrist mala to help keep track of chanting or use as a daily reminder to be mindful.

Cut a 10-inch length of elastic beading thread. Knot the bottom so the beads do not slip off while making the mala.

Thread six 10-mm beads onto the elastic, using beads of the same color. Place a seventh, different-colored 10-mm bead onto the elastic string.

Thread fifteen 10-mm beads that match the original six beads, followed by another different-colored bead. Follow this by adding six more beads matching the original.

Hold both ends of the elastic together and thread them through the large bead and out the other end. Thread both ends through an 8-mm bead after the large bead. This forms the Buddha bead.

Knot the elastic in a double or triple knot so it doesn't slip up into the beads. Leave a 1-inch end on the elastic.

Push the elastic through the top loop on the tassel. Tie the elastic securely so the tassel hangs beneath the Buddha bead. Trim any excess elastic.

Items you will need

  • Elastic thread

  • 10-mm beads

  • 8-mm bead

  • Large bead

  • Tassel

Tip

  • Three-hole Buddha beads are sometimes available at bead stores. If using one of these, there is no need for the 8-mm bead.

    Use stone or wood beads because natural materials are preferred. You may use glass, but be aware glass beads break easily.

    Wrist mala are worn on the left wrist and removed before entering the bathroom.

Tip

  • Check the elastic regularly for signs of wear and replace if necessary.