The use of prayer beads is common to many religious and spiritual traditions. Known as Malas to the practitioners of Hinduism and Buddhism, we also see them in Christian practice as the Rosaries used for repetitions of the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary, a prayer of intercession to the mother of Christ.
Malas are symbols of the never-ending cycle of eternity. They are often used to aid in the practice of japa meditation, which involves the repetition of a mantra or mantras. A mantra may be a series of words or syllables, or a single word or syllable, such as ‘Om’, which is considered to be the source of all mantras, chanted aloud or silently to invoke spiritual processes and qualities. By focusing on a certain formula very deeply, the practitioner can become detached from his/her thinking process and become submerged into a highly relaxed state. Mantra is a Sanskrit word which consists of two syllables, ‘man’, meaning mind and ‘tra’, meaning tool. Mantra can be translated as ‘instrument of thought. ‘Tra’ also comes from ‘trayoti’, which means liberation; another translation then is ‘an instrument which liberates one from the mind’.
Malas can be made from various sacred woods and stones, each of which has particular qualities:
Rosewood is a very rare wood that is prized in India. It is considered holy and is an important part of ritual malas. It aids in relaxation and the reduction of excessive thoughts and nervous energy. Rosewood has a nourishing, feminine energy, assisting one in developing compassionate and loving heart qualities, intuition and spiritual health.
Sandalwood is used for purification, for protection, and for uplifting the mind, body, and spirit. It brings clarity, tranquility and positive energy into our lives. The scent of Sandalwood is said to be the closest in nature to the scent that arises from within when one is in a deep state of meditation. The scent of it reminds us of the depths of peace within our own being, thus having a calming effect when we smell it. It assists the immune system in preventing illness.
The Rudraksha seed is one of the most prized gifts of nature in all of India for the spiritual seeker. The Hindu myths and legends of the god Shiva, the Great Yogi, tell of the tears he cries for the suffering of the world. The name ‘Rudraksha’ translates as ‘Tears of Lord Shiva’. The outer covering of the seed is bright blue – the color of Shiva’s tears. They are traditionally worn by the sadhus (holy men) and yogis of India, and are said to have been created from Divine compassion for the relief of human suffering.
Rudrakshas have multiple faces on them, from 1-21, but most malas are made with 5 face Rudraksha seeds, this being the most common (95% of all Rudraksha seeds have 5 faces). The 5-face Rudrakshas are considered to be all-purpose for spiritual enhancement and attunement. They have many transformative, auspicious and healing qualities, according to ancient Hindu scriptures. They are said to bring peace of mind and to provide protection. They were worn by the Buddha, and Gandhi, and are still worn today by many Indian Saints. The Rudrakshas with a different number of faces have their own individual, uplifting qualities: some are said to enhance mental power and improve physical strength and well-being, while others are said to remove obstacles, assist in healing diseases, and yet others bring wealth and prosperity.
Researchers have found that Rudraksha seeds have electro-magnetic properties and like magnets, work on the principle of Dynamic Polarity. For instance, you can stabilize your heart beat by placing a singular bead over your heart.
Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, is esteemed as the most sacred wood used in Indian worship. The plant itself is believed to be an incarnation of the Divine – a goddess in her own right. It is said that wherever Tulsi is planted, that place becomes sanctified and a place of pilgrimage. The leaves of the plant are highly medicinal and are an extremely effective adaptogenic herb.
The malas made of Tulsi wood are considered very suitable for meditation. It can help to increase love, devotion and spiritual growth in the wearer, thus making it an aid in the pursuit of Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion. Tulsi clears the aura and is reputed to possess many physical and spiritual healing properties.
Amethyst offers us calm, balance, patience, and peace. It can bring happiness and contentment, emotional stability and inner strength. A highly spiritual stone, it increases our awareness of spirituality and aids us in meditation. It can enhance intuition and psychic abilities.
Amethyst is of great assistance in the healing of grief and loss, and can also be used to help with transforming addictive behaviors. Amethyst is associated with the third eye and crown chakras and can open the heart chakra.
Aventurine is a stone of prosperity, assisting one in developing leadership qualities and decisiveness. It defuses negative situations, and opens us to compassion and empathy. Aventurine offers perseverance. It stabilizes the mind and stimulates perception. It enhances creativity and opens one to alternatives and possibilities. Aventurine unites intellect and emotion, calms anger and irritation and helps one to live within one’s heart. It also protects the heart chakra.
Carnelian has long been revered for its healing, spiritual and creative properties. It brings out one’s decisiveness and activates one’s personal power, assisting one in focusing and in self-actualization. It can be used to help one discover one’s hidden talents by awakening curiosity about one’s nature. It can remind one to focus one’s attention in the here and now. Carnelian provides protection from all negative emotions: rage, resentment, bad tempers, and anger in oneself and from others. It helps banish sorrow or depression. Carnelian increases physical energy, assertiveness, awareness of feelings, emotional warmth, confidence, motivation, concentration, boldness, initiative, sociability, creativity, compassion, individuality and past life recall. Carnelian is associated with the Solar Plexus, Sacral Chakra and the Root Chakra.
Garnet is a stone of harmony, positive manifestation and confident energy. It is a stone which brings one’s being into balance, instilling calmness or passion depending on what is needed. It is connected with the sacral chakra but also cleanses and revitalizes the whole chakra system and expels and refracts negative energy. Garnet may give rise to feelings of devotion, loyalty and commitment, making it an ideal stone to assist in harmonizing one’s relationships. It helps one to improve one’s perception skills, helping one to understand more deeply oneself and others. It is a stone of purification.
Howlite is named after the geologist who discovered it – Henry How. It is called the “attunement stone” because it is capable of linking the user to a higher spiritual consciousness, and it can open and prepare the mind to receive the energies and wisdom of attunements. Howlite can reduce stress in the workplace by absorbing anger and negative energy. It assists one to recognize the impact of one’s own actions and behaviors and to remember the importance of tactfulness in dealing with others. Howlite also brings mental awareness, both to current and past-life issues, and facilitates calm communication. Howlite is associated with the Third-Eye Chakra.
Lapis Lazuli is a “stone of total awareness”, helping to bring conscious attunement to the intuitive and psychic aspects of one’s nature, as well as expand awareness and intellectual capacity.
Lapis Lazuli brings truthfulness, openness, inner power, intuition, creativity, virility and manifestation. It strengthens the mind and body as well as increasing awareness and spiritual connection/evolution. It helps to stimulate emotional, mental, and physical purity and clarity, supporting ones courage in activities culminating in the advancement toward universal wisdom.
Lapis is also used to contact guardian spirits, and is a “stone of royalty”. Lapis brings spiritual love and is also known for enhancing love and fidelity within marriage. It is associated with the throat and brow chakras and can help one say just the right thing, as if by magic.
Lapis is also a stone that protects from both physical danger and psychic attacks. Physically, Lapis is helpful in disorders of the throat, bone marrow, thymus and immune system. It can help to relieve insomnia, vertigo, sinus ailments, headaches, nervous system, speech problems, pituitary gland and is effective in pain relief. It can be used to stimulate cellular re-structuring with respect to both hearing loss and the Eustachian tube.
Moonstones are a member of the monoclinic family of healing crystals. Like the ebb and flow of the oceans and the rhythm of our own heartbeats, the energetic properties of monoclinic crystals encourage life, action, growth, and transformation. Moonstone crystals promote new, more intuitive beginnings. Connected with the moon, the unconscious, and dreams awaken psychic abilities and empathy.
Wearing moonstone mala beads will have an overall calming effect, stabilizing emotions and cooling enraged and over-reactive thoughts. It helps to create a state of balance where emotions can be controlled, which is the foundation for overcoming psychological problems, as well as physical ailments.
Crystal Quartz is known as the “master healer” and will amplify energy and thought, as well as the effect of other crystals. Quartz absorbs, stores, releases and regulates energy. It draws off negative energy of all kinds and neutralizes background radiation, including electromagnetic smog and petrochemical emanations. It balances and revitalizes the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual planes. It cleanses and enhances the organs and subtle bodies and acts as a deep soul cleanser. Quartz enhances psychic abilities and aids concentration. Clear Quartz harmonizes all the chakras and aligns the subtle bodies. Quartz can assist one in recalling forgotten memories, in solving problems, dispelling negativity and in finding capabilities thought to be lost. This stone amplifies prayers, wishes and positive visualizations. Quartz keeps one connected with one’s spirituality and brings the awareness of the knowledge that one is a spiritual being, having a human experience. All spiritual pursuits can be stimulated and amplified using this stone’s energy. Crystal Quartz is associated with all the chakras.
Pearl carries the energy of the Divine Feminine, assisting one in accessing that energy within oneself. It signifies and promotes faith, innocence, loyalty, truth, charity and purity. Pearl enhances personal integrity, and brings calmness and centeredness. It is known as a stone of sincerity and can foster motherly love. It helps one to focus one’s attention, and gives the ability to reflect on how one appears to others.
Rose Quartz is a stone of unconditional love and infinite peace. It teaches us the essence of true love and is the most important stone for the heart chakra. This stone purifies and opens the heart, bringing deep inner healing and self-love. It is extremely useful in trauma and crisis, as it is calming and reassuring. It brings love into one’s life and in relationships brings trust, harmony, and unconditional love. It draws negative energy away from us and replaces that energy with love. Rose Quartz strengthens empathy and sensitivity and our receptivity to beauty. It releases unexpressed emotions and open’s one’s heart to love, for self and others. It brings to us the qualities of self-love, self-acceptance, self-forgiveness self-trust, and self-worth. Rose Quartz truly teaches us how to love ourselves completely and unconditionally. This is the foundation for being able to truly love and accept others unconditionally.
Tiger Eye is quartz that contains oriented fibers of crocidolite that have been replaced by silica. Tiger Eye offers protection and grounding. It encourages a passion for life and enhances willpower. It promotes clarity of intention, boosts self-esteem, and gives courage, determination, and strength. Tiger Eye is associated with the Root Chakra.
Turquoise is a healing stone, bringing comfort to spirit and body. It is a protective stone, which aids spiritual attunement and enhances communication . It can be used on the third eye to develop intuition and meditation, on the throat chakra to release old vows and free the soul to express itself fully, and on all chakras for balance and alignment. Turquoise is a purification stone that dispels negative energy and clears electromagnetic smog. It unites the male and female energies, represented as earth and sky. It a stone which brings strength, instills inner calm and aids creative expression. It is a master healing stone which fosters healthy relationships, attracts good fortune, prosperity, happiness, and releases shame and guilt.
Jade is a stone of purity and serenity, and of wisdom gathered in tranquility. It increases love and nurturing when placed on the heart chakra. It is a protective stone which brings harmony. It can stabilize the personality and bring self-sufficiency, while releasing negative thoughts and soothing the mind. Jade can stimulate ideas and awaken hidden knowledge. It encourages you to become who you really are – recognizing yourself as a spiritual being on human journey. Yellow jade, in particular, is energetic and stimulating and can bring joy and happiness, and an understanding of the interconnectedness of all beings.