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Mala care: How to make your mala beads last 108 years

So you’ve found yourself the perfect mala beads and love using them for your personal practice? Wonderful! Treat your mala with love and care, nourish it with your positive intentions, connect with it in your yoga and meditation routine, and always wear it with a smile on your face. But how can you ensure your mala stays the valuable companion it is now? What about physical care and sustainability? How do you take good care of the materials your necklace is made with? What can you do when the tassel has become frizzy and tangled? And how can you prevent your beloved mala from breaking?

This article summarizes the best mala care tips & tricks for you.

First and foremost, the longevity of your mala depends on whether you use it only for your personal mindfulness practice in your sacred space at home or if you like to wear it as a piece of jewelry in everyday life. Either way, make sure you don’t “stress” your mala too much in terms of pulling, wrapping and stretching. Remember that it is not simply a beautiful accessory but a personal talisman that accompanies you on your mindfulness and self-care journey.


Gemstone care

Even though gemstones are naturally robust, they can become brittle and chip if hit against hard or abrasive surfaces. Some minerals even have natural fracture lines that form during crystal growth and can promote cracking if hit hard enough. So make sure you don’t drop your mala or smash it against hard things to avoid broken stones or chipped guru beads.

You also want to avoid sharp edges and open flames because the string the beads are knotted on is not fire-proof and will tear under excess heat influence. The same goes for the tassel: setting your tassel on fire when accidentially leaning over a candle is definitely not the kind of fire ritual you want to “bless” your mala with! Also, avoid contact with water and take your mala off before showering, swimming and sweaty exercise like hot yoga. Water and humidity might damage the thread and tassel and make it tear more easily. And of course, don’t expose your mala to harsh chemicals contained in cosmetic products, like hair care products, fragrances and body lotion.

Don’t leave your mala unattended with your pets. I recently received a repair request from a customer whose dog liked her mala so much that he chewed it into pieces once he got hold of it…

And lastly, please note that malas are not intended for children. A regular 108-bead necklace is long enough to pose a serious strangling risk for toddlers, and even though the beads, charm and pendants have been crafted very carefully and as stably as possible, they can still be swallowed by kids if the necklace is accidentally damaged. So please make sure to put safety first and keep your malaΒ out of the reach of your children.


Charms, pendants & metal elements

If your mala or bracelet contains silver-plated elements such as spacers, ornaments or charms, exposing them to humidity, body warmth and air as you wear them can leave some tarnish on their surfaces with time. You can return them to their original state either by gently polishing them with a soft cloth, or prevent them from losing their shine right from the beginning by coating them with a layer of transparent nail polish. I don’t regularly do this when I make my malas and bracelets because I’d like to leave it up to my customers whether they want to use artificial coatings or leave their jewelry “all natural”. However, it’s a good way to protect the shine of charms and pendants, so I wouldn’t want to keep this trick a secret from you.


Tassel care

I hand-craft every single tassel for my malas, and I love how instantly relaxed playing with the tassel makes me feel whenever I touch my mala throughout the day! I use fine silk or cotton thread for my tassels, and both types have some pros and cons to them. Cotton is generally more durable and robust but doesn’t feel as cozy and smooth as the silk, while the silk thread is velvety soft and pleasant to touch but also more susceptible to humidity and tangling. And, as somebody correctly pointed out to me lately, silk in contrast to cotton is stricly speaking not vegan, so if this matters to you when choosing your perfect mala it might be a factor to consider.

When you wear your mala out, the tassel will most probably get a bit ruffled throughout the day. This tends to happen especially when you wear it underneath your shirt or jacket. There’s an easy way to straigthen your silk tassel if it has become frizzy and tangled over time. Carefully untangle it with a soft comb or your fingers first, then place it near a medium warm radiator (never on a hot surface like a stovetop or burner!πŸ”₯), leave it there for a couple of minutes and straighten it out with warm hands. Repeat if necessary.

You can also use a hair straigthener or conventional hair dryer on the very lowest level to gently pull or blow the threads straight. Just make sure to use dry heat instead of humid because the latter will fluff up the tassel even more. The method works for silk and cotton tassels alike, however cotton thread will generally be a bit more robust against frizz and can usually be straightened with only your fingers.

One thing I love doing with my tassel is spraying some diluted essential oil or my favorite scent on it when I set my intentions. Throughout the day the smell reminds me to maintain my balance and center.


Storing your mala

When you don’t wear or meditate with your mala, store it in a safe place, preferably in a little pouch or box. Avoid prolonged hanging on hooks or over edges as this may wear out the thread and facilitate tearing.

I like to keep my personal mala in a wooden bowl or in a gorgeous abalone shell I took home from a vacation and place them next to my window to let it soak up the sun or moonlight.


Breakthroughs

It is widely believed that a broken or torn mala symbolizes a breakthrough on your own personal journey. It’s a manifestation of the spiritual progression you have accomplished. The intention you set into your previous mala has been manifested or no longer serves you. Its higher purpose has been fulfilled, and a new cycle can begin.Β Thus, a broken mala is not a bad omen or something to be sad about, even though for most people it’s hard to let go of such a personal and special talisman. Instead it tells you that the time is right for a new intention, a new focus, and to welcome new energies into your life.

Some people like to bid their broken malas farewell by burying them in the earth to ritually conclude the life chapter they accompanied, and to seal the purpose they served. Others like to have the beads restrung to “repurpose” their old mala and fill it with a new intention. Another option is to combine someΒ of the old stones of your broken mala with new gemstone beads to create a new mala that marks the transition from one cycle in your life to the next.

Some spiritual traditions insist that a broken mala is not meant to be fixed because its karma has been broken. In India it is common to place a broken mala on the altar of a spiritual temple or shrine and offer it to the gods as a sign for the practitioner’s devotion and gratitude.

Choose whatever feels right for you when the day comes that your mala really breaks. Take some time to meditate and reflect over the phase you spent with your mala, and realize how it supported and helped you. Become aware of your personal progress and development, and write down your lessons and learnings in your personal journal ifΒ you want to.

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