Buddhist mala are 108 beads strung together much like a rosary. These beads can be made of any kind of precious or semi-precious stones. Usually a mala comprises of 108 beads, so when you are asked to chant "one mala" of a certain mantra, it means you chant it 108 times. The beads usually comprise two sets of 28 beads, with larger beads serving as dividers and this is for reciting the longer mantras 28 times.
CHOICE OF MALA
The selection of mala beads is a very personal choice, although it is a good idea to have one made of semi- precious stones, since this is like offering jewels to the Buddha each time you recite your mantras.
Popular choices in recent years are quartz crystals – both smooth and faceted, as well as colour-enhanced amber and red coral. Lapis, turquoise, amethyst and ametrine malas are also very popular. When you purchase a mala, select one you feel affinity with and then empower your mala with the blessing mantra given in this booklet.
MAKING YOUR MALA AUSPICIOUS
It is auspicious to attach the "dorje" and "bell" (made of silver) to your mala.
You can also attach blessing threads given by high lamas and any one of the eight auspicious objects which are the mystic knot, the vase, the double fish, the banner of victory, the wheel, the lotus, the parasol and the right turning conch shell.
It is advisable to keep your mala in a pouch preferably out of reach of other hands. You can wear it on your wrist. Always carry your mala with you wherever you go and especially when travelling. Chanting mantras is one of the most powerful ways to purify negative karma that cause bad things to happen to us. In this sense, it is the most effective way of keeping us safe and protected as we go about our daily task of living. Let your mala be a source of joy and loving kindness for you and your loved ones. But remember that without recitations of mantras that empower it, the mala is just a string of beads.
It is your motivation that makes your mala unique for you.