How to Use Tibetan Prayer Beads

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Tibetan prayer beads, also known as malas or Buddhist rosaries, are strings of beads used by Buddhists to help count meditations, prayers or chants known as mantras. Prayer beads can consist of just a few beads, usually worn around the wrist, or longer strands, often of 108 beads, worn around the neck. Regardless of the number of beads on a mala, the beads are used in the same way.

1 Select a mantra to meditate with

Select a mantra to meditate with. Perhaps the best-known mantra in Buddhism is "Om mani padme hum," which, according to the Buddhist resource site Dharma Heaven, "invokes the powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion."

The lotus position

2 Sit comfortably

Sit comfortably on the floor in lotus or half-lotus position, or on a cushion or low chair if needed. Hold your prayer beads in your left hand. Place your fingers on the first bead next to the larger guru bead (it doesn't matter which side you begin on).

3 Focus your breathing

Focus your breathing so that it is even and relaxed. Speak or think the mantra so that each syllable is paired with a long, full exhale. If you are using the mantra given above, this would be: Om (inhale) Ma (inhale) Ni (inhale) Pad (inhale) Mi (inhale) Hum (inhale). When you have finished the entire mantra, move your fingers to the next bead.

The large bead is the guru bead

4 Flip the prayer beads

Flip the prayer beads over when you reach the guru bead at the end of the completion of the smaller beads so that you don't skip over the guru bead. Begin again with the first bead and repeat.

5 Chant as many repetitions

Chant as many repetitions of the mantra as you choose to. When you are finished, sit quietly for a few moments before returning to your daily activities.