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Meditating with Mala Beads

Sonali Perera

Growing up, my mom meditated with a mala every night before bedtime. Many times, me and my sister would sit with my mom and repeat mantras with our own mala. A couple weeks ago, my mom gave me the same mala I used to meditate with when I was younger. It was the Mala my Nani (Grandma) gave to me 30+ years ago! My kids started asking me about the Mala, so I sat down with my mom to learn more.

What are Mala Beads

  • Mala beads are a string of 108 beads (+ 1 Guru bead) used in prayer and meditation and as a reminder of our intentions
  • Malas are made from different gemstones, rocks or seeds. 
  • Buddhist and Hindu malas are usually made from different types of wood or seeds such as sandalwood, rosewood or rudraksha (one I am most used to). Rudraksha seeds are believed to embody peace and love and is considered a very holy and protective seed. 


  • Find a quiet and comfortable spot, close your eyes, take a deep breath and realign with your intention. 
  • I like to use a mantra during my meditation but this is optional. You can chant your mantra loudly or silently. Here are some of my favorite mantras. You can also repeat a word such as Om, love or something you are thankful for. Repeating this will help you with your concentration.
  • Hold your mala over the third finger in your right hand and turn each bead towards you using your thumb.
  • Your index finger (pointing finger) should not touch the mala beads. In Hindu tradition, the pointing finger is the accusing finger and is believed to represent ego.
  • When you reach the guru bead (bead that hangs from the mala), wait and reflect. Do not continue over the guru bead. Turn your mala around and continue in the opposite direction. 
  • Continue this practice for as long as you want to.