Choosing the best mala beads can be a difficult decision. It certainly was for me. But after a lot of research, I learned about some considerations to make when choosing the best mala beads for you.
Choosing the Best Mala Beads: Considerations to Make
Mala beads are very personal to the user/wearer, so if you’re looking to choose mala beads for yourself, there are many things to take into consideration, including intention, bead type, bead size, string and knots, markers, and tassel. Armed with a little knowledge, choosing your mala beads doesn’t have to be difficult.
Some questions you may want to ask yourself when choosing the right mala beads for you:
- What do I intend to use my mala beads for?
- Are there certain stones or crystals that I am drawn to and want my mala to include?
- How long do I want my malas to be?
- Should I need the full 108 beads, or something smaller?
- Do I want knots between the beads?
- Would I mind the beads sliding around a little (if there are no knots)?
- Do I want markers or spacers between the beads?
- Can I care properly for a silk tassel, or should I have a pendant on the end of my mala beads?
1.) Varieties of Mala Beads Construction
Traditionation mala beads have 108 meditation beads, which represent the 108 mortal desires which mankind must overcome to reach Nirvana. They also have a guru bead (the 109th bead) to mark the end of the 108 recitations, which is there to represent gratitude. There may or may not be knots between the beads, there may be spacers or markers. Last, there is likely a tassel or ornament at the end, beyond the guru bead to signify the connection between the earthly world and the spiritual world.
But there are many variations beyond this, so let’s look at some considerations you might want to take into account while trying to choose the right mala beads for you.
Number of Beads
As mentioned above, a traditional mala bead necklace will have 108 beads. This is a highly symbolic number, and it represents 108 challenges that we must overcome. Some other lengths of mala beads are 54 beads (half of the traditional beads), or mala bracelets with 18, 21, or 27 beads.
Size of Beads (Necklace length)
Most beads are 8mm, which makes the full mala hit at about your belly button or lower, depending on how tall you are. The overall length of traditional 108 mala beads will be between 36-42 inches long.
There is also a smaller sized bead of 6mm. This is the same size bead used in Catholic Rosaries. The length of the necklace will hit at about your sternum or a little lower.
The type of string and whether or not the mala uses knots will also determine how long the mala beads are on you while you wear them around your neck.
The guru bead is the 109th bead, however, you don’t use it as a recitation bead. It’s there to represent a teacher (or “guru”) who imparts spiritual wisdom to you. It can help signify the beginning and end of a meditation session.
Guru beads are typically larger than the other beads (12-14mm in size) and they can be the same or a different gemstone than the rest of the beads.
String and Knots
Traditionally, the beads are strung with silk or cotton cord, and there are knots between each of the beads. This is to help you keep your beads and restring them in case the cord ever breaks.
Malas can also be strung without knots. Typically, they will have a little “give” or extra space in these, so that it’s easier to slide the beads around when meditating and reciting your mantra or affirmation.
Spacers or Markers
Sometimes, there will be marker beads or spacers at certain places along the string of beads to help you keep track of your meditation. These can be smaller beads or be shaped differently, so you can feel the difference while meditating (and not having to look at your beads).
These can be placed every 27 beads (traditional) or at another interval. They help you know where you are in your recitations. There is no traditional rule for whether a mala should have spacers or not.
There is also traditionally a tassel on your mala beads to finish them, which represents the connection to the spirit. There may be a lotus pendant, another pendant with symbol, or even a rough gem at the end.
Silk tassels can get messy and tangled when not stored properly, so if you think you might be rough with your malas, you may want to consider a pendant to help keep them beautiful. You also may want to think about someplace you can store your beads that will help your mala retain positive energy. Many people store them around the neck or a Buddha statue (or other positive spiritual statue) to display and store them in a pretty way.
2. Gemstone Properties to Match Your Intention
You definitely want to consider your intention while choosing the right mala beads. (Make sure you read 6 Ways to Use Your Mala Beads to help you narrow down your intended use.) In fact, this may be the single most deciding factor for you.
If you plan to use them as a fashion statement, you will probably have different priorities than if you want to use them for meditation. You may want to use them for crystal healing, in which case the crystals you choose will have the largest effect on which mala beads you choose.
Each crystal (also called gemstone, or stone) has different properties. In traditional Eastern religions and healing methods, movement, crystals, and sound all have potential for healing vibration. It is a true fact that everything in our world, not just living creatures, has an energy vibration. Different materials and objects will have different vibrational frequencies that match different ailments.
Color is one way to tell what stones have what vibrational frequency.
You can match a stone’s color to the body’s chakras (or energy centers) to get a rough idea of what the stone may be used for:
White: healing, purifying, cleansing
Purple: associated with the 7th Chakra (Crown Chakra), deals with connecting to a higher power, enlightenment, meditation, etc.
Dark Blue: associated with the 6th Chakra (Third Eye Chakra), governs our awareness, intuition
Lighter Blue: associated with the 5th Chakra (Throat Chakra), helps us communicate, get our point across, feel free to speak
Green: associated with the 4th Chakra (Heart Chakra), generates love, compassion, understanding, empathy
Pink: also associated with the 4th Chakra (Heart Chakra), generates love, compassion, understanding, empathy
Yellow: associated with the 3rd Chakra (Solar Plexus Chakra), seat of our self-esteem, power, wisdom
Orange: associated with the 2nd Chakra (Sacral Chakra), help us with creating, sexuality, childbirth
Red: associated with the 1st Chakra (Root Chakra), governs security, safety, trust
Brown: associated with the 1st Chakra (Root Chakra), governs security, safety, trust
Black: protection, blocks negative energy
Learn more about 6 Ways to Use Your Mala Beads.
Here are many of the gemstones used in making mala beads, and what their vibrational energy matches well.
One of the most powerful stones, clear quartz (or crystal quartz) is incredibly healing. It helps to balance the chakras and is an excellent choice for long, focused meditation or prayer.
A white stone with black or gray threads running through it, howlite is a very calming stone and helps the wearer relieve stress, balance the chakras, and develop patience.
This vibrant purple stone activates spiritual awareness, helps relieve stress, promotes peace, relaxation, and can help with deep, restful sleep.
Lepidolite is also associated with the 7th chakra and can help bring emotional balance, relieve stress, and promote peace and spiritual connection.
This rich blue stone is known for its connection to the 6th chakra, stimulating higher intelligence, deep thought, and objectivity and clarity. It can also be used to help develop compassion.
This stone is excellent for manifestation. It helps relieve you of old, limiting mindsets, provides objectivity and clarity, and stimulates deep thought.
Connected to the throat chakra, blue agate can help with expression of thoughts and feelings verbally. It is very calming and soothing.
An excellent stone for balancing the 4th and 5th chakras, chrysocolla can help you release guilt, improve your communication, and improve your self-awareness.
Aquamarine is a calming, soothing stone that helps you quiet the mind and open the heart. It can help with objectivity, releasing judgment, and becoming compassionate.
Called the “Stone of Evolution”, African turquoise (which is really a type of jasper) is associated with the 4th and 5th chakras, and can help inspire change in your life and lead to transformation.
Amazonite is helpful in clearing blockages from the nervous system. It soothes emotional trauma and is an excellent stone in manifestation and abundance.
Connected with the 4th chakra, malachite can open your heart to universal love. It’s also wonderful in blocking radiation and electromagnetism.
Known for healing scars and wounds from the past, rhodonite is connected to the heart chakra. It balances feminine and masculine energies, and it can healing emotional shock and panic.
The ultimate stone of love, Rose Quartz is strongly connected to the heart chakra. It can help with friendship, relationships, self-love, understanding, compassion, and peace.
Incredibly soothing for emotions, this is great for calming your negative feelings, promoting restful sleep, and bringing love, understanding and compassion.
This is a stone for new beginnings. Moonstone is a slightly pink and translucent stone that promotes inspiration and success in both love and business matters.
A lovely combination of Zoisite with flecks of ruby, this stone is excellent for heart chakra work. It can help with gratitude, vitality, and is a powerful stone for body healing and fertility.
Aventurine helps to calm anger, and it has a very anti-inflammatory effect on the body. It can help heal illnesses and can even help you channel abundance.
A stone of harmony, jade is all about love and friendship. It can increase nurturing, love, and compassion, and can even help with abundance, wealth, and good luck.
Another stone of new beginnings, moss agate is beneficial in improving self-esteem, bringing good fortune and wealth, and refreshing the soul.
A stone of protection, yellow jasper is beneficial in times of stress. It helps to support your energy and is also excellent to use while traveling.
The positive energy of sunstone can help you to alleviate stress, increase happiness, foster enjoyment of life, and balance and heal a person’s energies.
Carnelian helps promote courage. It is said to aid in overcoming abuse, motivate you for success, and drive trust in your own intuition.
Excellent for grounding work, Tiger’s Eye is associated with the 1st chakra. It can center your energy, promote focus, and resolve conflicts.
Red jasper is a deeply protective stone and it is gently stimulating for the 1st chakra. It brings tranquility and wholeness to the wearer.
This stone helps to stimulate our root chakra. It can be used for grounding, getting out of your head, and moving from apathy to action.
Extremely transformative and protective, labradorite grounds your energies, gives emotional depth, and can help you develop and hone your spiritual energies as well.
Onyx will give you strength, stamina, and courage. It is an excellent choice for self-control, decision making, and relieving yourself of grief.
Helping to protect you from negative energy, black obsidian is incredibly grounding and healing. It creates a shield around auras and energy fields, and is said to be protective when placed at doors of homes.
Here’s another great site that has TONS of gemstones and their meanings so that you can decide even more what kind of beads would work well when you’re thinking about how to choose the best mala beads for you.
3. Consider Making Your Mala Beads
When I started looking for mala beads, I couldn’t find a mala with the specific crystals, knots, and tassel that I was looking for, so I decided to make my own mala beads.
I started on Etsy to find the size and type of bead that I wanted, high quality silk thread, a guru bead, and a tassel. I bought far more beads than I needed, and I narrowed my choices down before I strung them together.
I was specifically looking for beads/crystals to help with feminine energy, fertility, and blocking negative energy, so the beads I chose were onyx, ruby zoisite, moonstone, riverstone, and white agate for my guru bead. I laid out the beads in order and constructed them over the course of a few days.
The tassel was the most difficult part to put on. I’m sure I didn’t do it the most elegant way, but I loved them and used them religiously while I was working on getting pregnant.
Choosing a set of mala beads for yourself is a complex process because you want to get it right. Mala beads are deeply personal, so I encourage you to take some time and sit with all the options you have before deciding on what kind of mala beads you want to choose.
Make sure you listen to your intuition. Often, your first gut reaction will help tell you what is the best choice for you.
And now that you know how to choose a set of mala beads, it’s time for you to actually look at some.
If you want, take a look at the 18 Best Mala Beads for Your Meditation and Mindfulness Practice so you can start looking at different beads on Amazon or Etsy that will work best for you.
In the meantime, be sure to read:
The 16 Best Spiritual Books You Can Read in 2020
And check out:
44 Affirmations for Spiritual Enlightenment
Be sure to drop a comment below if you have any questions!
What helped you choose the right mala beads?