body positive blogger, Katie Horwitch sat down with the founder of Blooming Lotus Jewelry, Jennifer Ciraulo to find out more about mala beads – the jewelry item we are sure you’ve seen, but may never have known the meaning behind.
Here’s Katie on these mindful and beautiful wearable resolutions, and how to make your own!
Blooming Lotus Jewelry specializes in mala beads that each carry a special meaning and intention. Think of a mala as a wearable resolution.
Everything You Should Know About Mala Beads
Malas have been used for centuries to help their owners set intentions, meditate in the moment and get in touch with what they truly want to manifest in their lives. Just wearing my mala makes me feel more grounded in who I am, and gives me a visual reminder to keep my daily intentions in check – quite the feat for just a little string of beads.
Mala beads recently have been surfacing all over the place as a beautiful fashion accessory. But there’s so much more to a mala than a stylish beaded necklace with a bohemian vibe. Mala, meaning “garland” in Sanskrit, have been used for centuries for meditation and prayer.
Traditionally, a mala has 108 beads, which assists in counting your mantras during Japa meditation. You’ll often see gemstones as part of (or all) of the 108 beads. Each gemstone adds meaning. Once learning of their special meaning, people are drawn to them even more. Wearing your mala around your neck or wrist serves as a gentle reminder of what your intentions and goals are. A glance or holding it in your hand can bring it back to you, your dreams, and where you want to be.
What’s the significance of the 108 beads?
It is said that there are 108 reasons why 108 is a sacred number. Here are just a few:
-it is said that there are 108 energy lines that converge to form the heart chakra.
-it is said that there are 108 Indian Goddess names
-the diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth
-there are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet…each having a masculine and feminine (Shiva and Shakti). 54 times 2 is 108.
-in astrology, silver is thought to represent the moon…the atomic weight of the silver is 108.
What is the Guru bead?
The Guru bead represents your teacher(s) in life and also the teacher within yourself. During a Japa meditation cycle, this is where you pause, reflect and give thanks to your teachers and the teacher within you. If you choose to do another cycle of meditation, you reverse the direction and never cross over the Guru bead as that would be seen as stepping on your teacher.
How can I meditate with my mala?
Mala beads can be used to help keep count of your mantras during what’s called a Japa meditation cycle. During Japa meditation, you recite your mantra on each bead, going around the entire mala to reach 108 repetitions of that mantra. Through Japa meditation, you will become more aware of your intentions.
How To Make Your Own DIY Mala Beads
Want to make one? Let me show you how to craft your very own set of mala beads from beginning to end! This version is a hand-knotted tassel mala but you can choose the 108 beads that fit your intention. There is a lot of labor that goes into a hand-knotted mala. Expect to spend 1 to 1.5 hours or more if this is your first time making a mala.
Your mala is a physical reminder of your intention! You will be surprised how attached you will be to your mala and the energy it brings. Sometimes when life gets crazy, you need to bring it back to you! Wear your mala, meditate with your mala or place it in a special place as a reminder of your intentions, dreams and where you want to go. Wear your intention and let it support your soul. They are gentle reminders that will keep you feeling like you!
Before you begin: Give thought to what meaning you want for your mala so you can choose the appropriate gemstone. Think about where you are in your life at this present moment and also where you want to be. What are you dreams? Choose gemstones that align with you! For example, are you looking for love or does your heart need healing, do you want to be able express yourself better or communicate your needs, do you need grounding, confidence, or creative energy, etc.?
Love: rose quartz, green aventurine, rhodonite, rhodochrosite
Communication and speaking your truth: amazonite, aquamarine
Grounding: onyx, black quartz, hematite
Fertility: moonstone, rose quartz, carnelian, lava stone
Clarity: clear quartz, amethyst, tiger’s eye
108 beads (recommended size: 6mm-8mm)
1 guru bead (this bead lies outside the circle of 108, above the tassel)
3 counter/marker beads (optional – these are not included in the 108; these beads are often slightly larger or different in surface texture or shape)
string/cord (recommended thickness: 0.7mm-1mm)
tiny spacer beads (optional)
glue for knot (fabric cement is recommended, to allow for flexibility)
scissors or cutters
options to cleanse your mala (sage, singing bowl, Tingsha bells, etc.)
a whole lot of love and intention
Step 1: Gather 110 inches of cord. Snip ends of cord on an angle as best you can.
Use Crazy Glue to make both ends pointy and needle-like; gently rolling between your fingers, being very mindful not to glue your fingers together! Loop cord through tassel, making sure both sides of cord are equal in length. String both ends of the cord through the guru bead. Slide guru bead down toward tassel. Optional: Add a tiny spacer bead on each cord and slide to the top of Guru bead.
Please read through remaining steps before continuing so you know what’s to come. This will prevent any errors and avoid any unknotting and backtracking.
Step 2: Adding beads & knotting: Note: each side will have 54 mala beads, plus the optional counter beads if you have chosen to add them. Make a knot on top of each bead, sliding the knot as close as possible to the bead. Add a bead. Knot tightly above the bead. Add a bead. Knot. Repeat. *If you have chosen to add counter beads (optional), please see step below. If you chose not to use counter beads, your final knot will be exactly between the 54 beads on each side of mala (at nape of the neck).
*Optional counter/marker beads: Shown in these photos are counter beads located at the 18th and 54th stations. There are other options, but for this mala, we will place counter beads at the 18th and 54th stations.
Step 3: One side of mala: add 18 beads and 18 knots. Add one counter bead and one knot. Then continue with 36 more beads and 36 knots, which will put you exactly at ½ of the mala. Add one counter bead and a knot (this is the counter bead that will be at the nape of the neck). You have completed ½ of the mala.
Step 4: Other side of mala: add 18 beads and 18 knots. Add one counter bead and one knot. Then continue with 34 beads (note 34 beads… you’ll see why in a moment) and 34 knots. At this point you should have only two beads left. Last step is the final knot. (Insert 54 beads on each side, plus optional counter bead collage.)
Step 5: Final knot: Add one bead on EACH cord end. Knot between these two beads. Repeat the knot one more time so it’s secure. Add a dab of fabric cement glue to the knot on all sides. Snip excess cord.
Step 6: Wrap your arms around your body and squeeze: Congratulations! You just finished your first mala and deserve a hug.
There are several ways to cleanse your mala. Gemstones absorb all sorts of energy so you’re going to want to cleanse your mala so it’s ready for you! Lay it out in the moonlight (full moon is great for this) or use a meditation singing bowl, dried sage bundle or Tingsha bells. You can Google for more info on these.