Mala Prayer Beads are used by Buddhists to recite mantra, similar to beads used by Catholics in reciting the rosary. While the structure of the beads may vary between sects of Buddhists, the purpose is the same, to promote a sense of inner peace and tranquility. Traditionally, the beads are made of natural materials such as bodhiseed wood or jade, but the beauty in making your own set is that you can use whatever material is personal to you. Here are step-by-step instructions for making your own mala prayer beads.
Gather your materials. You will need 108 of the same type of beads (called Bead A) and 2 larger beads (called Bead B.) The two larger beads will be used to divide the remainder of the beads in half. You will also need silk beading thread and a decorative tassel.
Thread 54 of the beads (A) on to the thread. Then, place one of the larger beads (B) onto the thread; this will divide the strand. Follow the larger bead (B) with the remaining 54 beads (A). Finish the strand with the final large bead (B). Be sure to knot the thread to avoid unraveling.
Many sets of mala beads have tassels attached to the non-matching bead at the end. This completely optional, but can add to the beauty of the prayer beads. You can either purchase a tassel to attach or make one of your own. A good material to use, if you decide to make your own tassel, is embroidery thread. You may also choose to attach a few beads, similar to the A beads, to the end of your tassel.
When you are not using your prayer beads, they should be stored appropriately and respectfully. Consider using a fabric bag for storage.
This is the most important step. You must identify a mantra. One of the most common mantras, "Om mani padme hum", means "hail to the jewel in the lotus." The purpose of chanting this mantra is to bring about greater compassion for others, along with less suffering and a sense of personal enlightenment. Choosing the right mantra for yourself is essential. You will then repeat the mantra for each bead of the mala.
The benefit of the mala prayer beads in meditation is obviously to keep the mind focused on the mantra; the added benefit of creating you own set of prayer beads may lie in the connection you will feel to the item and, thus, to your practice.