There are different world religions that employ the use of prayer beads to enhance their prayer life and/or the practice of mantra meditations. As an example, Muslim prayer beads come with 99 beads that are meant to correspond with the 99 days of Allah. Catholics also use the Rosary so as to keep track of the order in which they have to say their prayers. Buddhists and Hindus also use Japa Mala, commonly known as mala beads to keep track of their repetitions otherwise known as mantra meditations; you can also find other nondenominational prayer beads.

While all the religions we have mentioned make use of beads during prayers, the tradition appears to be more prevalent in Tibetan Buddhism. The Buddhist mala is used in Tibetan Buddhism with a particular mantra meditation during prayers. When one uses the mala during meditation, their mind is supposed to focus on the meaning of the particular mantra instead of focusing on the number of the repetitions they are saying. We live in a world where people are used to keeping track and doing different things at the same time; this kind of thinking doesn’t work out well when it comes to mantra meditations. This is where beads mala come in; to help us connect the mind to the mantra and remove the risk of the mind wandering to other things since the mind will be able to focus on the mantra and become more relaxed.

Mala beads traditionally contain 108 beads that are divisible by 9; this is based on the Buddhist belief that there are 108 possible sins. Hindus, on the other hand, believe that 108 represent the number of names that are assigned to Hindu gods; additionally, they believe that the number 108 represents the nine planets that are in the twelve zodiac houses. 108 is therefore called the perfect and complete number.

When one holds a mala, it should be held loosely in one hand with the strand lying over the ring finger such that when you start reciting your mantra, you begin by taking hold of the first bead and the guru bead. The guru bead is that large bead at the center of the mala. As you repeat your mantra each time, you use your thumb to bring the best bead towards you as you pass away from the guru bead. Mala beads are normally made from sandalwood, Bodhi seeds or other special types of wood; they can also be made from different types of gemstones.

There are at least for different purposes for mantra meditations; there are mantras that are meant to increase, to appease, and to overcome and lastly to tame using forceful means. Appeasing mantras are used for purifying the mind and clear obstacles such as illnesses; increasing mantras can increase your lifespan while overcoming mantra meditations benefit other people.

Author's Bio: 

This article is penned by Lora Davis for Sakura Designs, a US based Yoga jewelry design that offers authentic mala beads and mala bracelets for mantra meditation.