Mala beads, or prayer beads, as they are also known have been around for at least 3000 years when ancient seers of India began to use beads to assist with their meditation. The term mala is a Sanskrit word for "meditation garland". They have a spiritual purpose but can also be worn as a very intentional and beautiful fashion piece.
Mala beads have 108 beads as this is considered a sacred number in Hinduisim, Buddhism and yogic tradition. The number 108 is considered the number of the wholeness of existence and is believed to connect the Sun, Moon and Earth.
When you chose your Mala beads it is a good idea to cleanse them and then to activate them before using them as it is believed that the handling and wearing of your mala beads will transmute and absorb energy as well as the prayer, blessings and intentions you have set with them. Some believe that if other people touch your mala beads then they will need cleansing, or if you place them on the ground (considered a sign of disrespect) they will need cleansing and reactivating.
Cleansing Mala beads
Smudging with white sage is the oldest and most popular way to cleanse and clear your mala beads. Carefully light the sage and allow the smoke to rise upward into and around your mala beads which are held in the stream of smoke. Hold the beads in the smoke for several moments and chose to say a prayer or affirmation releasing negative energy and bringing in love and light and positive energy.
Activating or Charging your Mala Beads
Gemstones, crystals and organic material vibrate at certain frequencies and amplify energy you send through them whilse drawing out negativity from your body. After cleansing your mala you need to activate or charge it so it functions at highest vibrational level. You can activate them by leaving in the moonlight for a few hours or the sunlight (be careful of gemstones that fade in the sun eg Amethyst and rose quartz). You could also activate your mala beads by placing them in or on a crystal geode or crystal cluster for at least 24hrs. Or simply activate by visualisation. Hold in your dominant hand, close your eyes and visualise pure white light pouring down through all of your chakras and then out into your mala beads - holding you in a bubble of the purest energy. Sit in this meditation for at least 10mins.
Set your Intentions
Once your Mala beads are cleansed and charged then it is time to set an intention for them. Sit somewhere quietly holding your beads in your palm. Visualise white light and say your intention / mantra out loud. Whenever you pray with your beads, say your intention and then continue to recite your mantra as your hand moves around the strand of beads. It is believed the mala beads should be held between the thumb and middle finger of the right hand.