Making of a Mala: How to Make Your Own Prayer Necklace
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Making of a Mala: How to Make Your Own Prayer Necklace

August 02, 2021 by PathForward
Make your own Mala to create something meaningful to use whenever you need some centering.
Make your own Mala to create something meaningful to use whenever you need some centering.

A Japa Mala can offer an invaluable tool to help you center yourself. Malas are used for meditation and prayer to keep your mind focused, guiding you as you count mantras or track your gratitude or breathing.

What Is a Mala?

If you've ever gone to a yoga class or sat down for a meditation session with a friend who's really into the practice, you may have seen a Japa Mala without even realizing it. Malas are those beaded necklaces with a tassel in the middle. (The word Mala is a Sanskrit word that means "garland.") Used in Japa meditation to count prayers, mantras, or intentions, these simple strings of beads are also useful for gratitude meditation or for counting your breaths.

Malas are prayer beads or meditation beads, and they're ancient tools that came about to keep the mind focused and clear from noisy thoughts. You can use a Mala in your own daily rituals to center yourself. If you're not sure how to use Malas in a way that makes sense for you, a Psychic Advisor can help you get started.

Understanding the Mala's Meaning, Design, and Place in Hinduism and Buddhism

Often called mantra beads, meditation beads, Buddhist prayer beads, or Hindu rosaries, Mala beads have a strong connection to Eastern mysticism. A full Mala will have 108 counting beads along with one other bead, known as the meru (mountain) or guru (teacher) bead.

That meru or guru bead is typically larger than the rest of the counting beads, giving you a start and end point while you're counting mantra repetitions. Then there's that distinctive tassel, which finishes the Mala with a final knot and connects to the end of the meru or guru bead.

You can usually wear a 108-bead Mala as a necklace, but you can also string a half Mala with 54 beads. You can even make a wrist Mala to wear as a bracelet that contains 27 counting beads. Malas with 18 or 36 beads also work.

So, why those numbers? 108 boasts a powerful significance in spirituality and science in India. You'll see that figure pop up time and time again. Here are some examples:

  • The Sanskrit alphabet has 108 letters.
  • According to Vedic mathematicians, the diameter of the Sun is 108 times larger than the Earth's diameter, and the distance between the Earth and Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Sun.
  • Tantric yoga has 108 energy lines running throughout the body before converging and connecting at the heart chakra.
  • Bhakti yoga speaks of 108 gopis that dance with Krishna in Vrindavan, not to mention 108 names of the goddess.
  • Yogic tradition also includes 108 sacred Indian holy sites, 108 marma points on a body, and 108 sacred texts of the Upanishads.

It's no wonder, then, that Malas also draw on this important number. While traditional Malas used for longer mantra repetitions have 108 beads, shorter Malas using factors of 108 are also commonly used. Traditional Malas use rudraksha, sandalwood, or tulsi beads. That said, if you're making a Mala for yourself, you can feel free to use any gemstone with energetic properties you want to enhance.

Overhand knotting is another feature of traditionally crafted Malas. These simple hand knots between each bead both strengthen the Mala and create the ideal amount of space in between every bead. You'll see some variation in design depending on where a given Mala comes from, however. You'll usually find knots between each bead when it comes to Malas from India, while Malas from China, Nepal, and Tibet are not usually knotted between beads. Some Tibetan Malas also have two counters, one attached to each side, for counting huge repetitions (think: hundreds to thousands of mantras!).

Finally, the tassel attaches directly to the meru or guru bead. The tassel is the cluster of string or silk you'll see at the bottom of a Mala. Each tassel strand is an extension of the cords binding the necklace together, so the tassel symbolizes each human's connection to the divine and to one another.

How To Make Your Own Mala

Ready to make your own Mala? Gather supplies, including Mala beads, cord, and the item you'll use as the meru or guru bead. That can be a large bead, charm, or really just about anything with a hole big enough to allow two pieces of cord to fit through. You can get creative with your tassel as well, using materials like cotton or silk.

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Cut about 5 feet of cord for a 108-bead Mala, adjusting as needed if you're making a shorter version. You can use clear glue or nail polish on a few inches at one end of the cord to make stringing easier — just coat the cord, allow it to dry, and cut into a pointed tip before proceeding.
  2. Tie off one end of the cord, leaving a tail of about 5 to 8 inches.
  3. String the first bead, pulling a tight knot following the bead. Use your thumbnail to push the knot tight against the neighboring bead.
  4. Repeat for each of your beads. Malas are not just meditative to use, they're also meditative to make!
  5. Once you're done stringing all the beads, use a simple knot to tie the two ends of the string together, creating a full circle.
  6. String the meru or guru bead onto both pieces of the string, tying another simple knot to secure the meru or guru bead in its place.
  7. Tassel time! Get your tassel attached and secured by stringing one end of your cord through the loop at the top of your tassel, and then stringing the cord's other end through the loop in the opposite direction. You'll want to tie multiple times to keep things secure. You can again use clear glue or nail polish to coat the knots for some extra security.

That's it! You've created your very own Mala to use for centering practices like prayer and meditation. Looking for something to further center you? Get a Psychic reading today.

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