Mala beads are traditional prayer beads used by Buddhists to count mantras.
Mala beads are traditional prayer beads used by Buddhists to count mantras.

Mala beads are traditional Tibetan prayer beads used to count meditation mantras. A 21-bead mala bracelet is a small, wrist-worn version of its larger counterpart, the 108-bead mala necklace. These beads are worn by a single user and are not supposed to be touched by anyone else. Malas are created using beads of seeds and various stones, each with its own significance to the user.

Proper Way to Hold Mala Beads

The mala bracelet is held in the traditional manner in the left hand. The first bead counted is the small bead to the right of the largest bead on the bracelet. Do not touch the bracelet with the index finger of either hand, as you channel the energy into your body using your index fingers.

Proper Counting Technique

Chant each mantra and then count the beads using your right thumb and index finger. When you have chanted 20 mantras, flip the bracelet over and count again in the other direction, never passing over the largest bead, which signifies stepping over your teacher.

Use of the 21-Bead Mala

Complete five full rotations around the 21-bead mala, which will give you a full meditative course of 100 mantras. This will be the same number of mantras completed with a full-sized mala necklace.

How to Wear a Mala Bracelet

The 21-bead wrist mala is to be worn on your wrist, against your skin and under your clothing, if possible. Keep your mala clean and make sure that you do not allow anyone else to touch it, which can reduce its spiritual energy.