A mala is a string of beads that has traditionally been used for prayer and meditation. It is a useful tool in that many people become easily distracted during meditation. Mala beads allow the user to focus on the mantra or intention they have set by eliminating distractions from counting or the mind wandering.
Traditionally a mala will have 108 beads plus a larger bead, known as the guru bead or the mother, and a tassel. The tassel is a symbol for the lotus flower symbolizing purity and the ability of the mind to transcend human desire to attain enlightenment.
When mediating with a mala it is traditionally held in the left hand between the thumb and middle finger. As the mantra or intention is said the user moves from one bead to the next while repeating the mantra. Out of respect the user never crosses or counts the guru bead. It is skipped over, and the direction is then reversed.
As an alternative to holding the mala beads in the left hand they may also be worn around the neck during meditation as a physical reminder of your commitment to practice or be held in prayer form between your hands and held close to your heart while reciting your mantra. When done your mala beads may be hung on a door knob or another place where they will be easily seen as a reminder of the intention you have set.
Although mala beads have traditionally been used for prayer and meditation they may also be worn daily as a beautiful reminder of the intention you have set. Many will also choose to wear them as a fashion accessory for the healing properties the gemstones possess without any religious affiliation.