With the huge variety of beautiful mala beads available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Sometimes people instinctively pick up (or click on) a particular piece because they feel an instant connection with it, but then get confused as they look at other ones and eventually start to question which mala is really “best” for them. When people ask me for guidance the most important advice I give them is: there is no right or wrong way to choose a mala. No matter what reasons you have for picking a particular piece, they will lead you right to the mala that is meant for you.
This factor is probably easiest to decide on when trying to find your mala. What’s your favorite color, or which color family are you most drawn to? Do you love calming and relaxing blues, or are you attracted by the energy of fiery reds or hot pinks? Colors have a unique power in inspiring certain mindsets, so they are naturally helpful for finding your perfect mala fit. Always go for the colors that YOU associate with certain qualities, not those that are “officially” attributed to a certain virtue. For example: While shades of red may be commonly connected with the fire element and qualities like agility, action and enthusiasm, it doesn’t help you if you associate red with tranquility, relaxation and calm. Rely on how a color makes you feel and what meaning it has to you.
Every gemstone type is known to have unique energy signature, and if you are receptive to their healing energy you can utilize their specific properties for picking the mala that is just right for you in your current life phase. Amazonite, for example, stimulates intuition and communication and helps to freely express your opinions, thoughts and feelings. Jasper brings grounding and improves physical imbalances. Onyx is excellent when strength and endurance are needed, for instance when you are facing challenges and need confidence and assertiveness. The list goes on almost endlessly. You may also have heard that every zodiac sign has its characteristic birthstones. Amethyst, for example, is typically ascribed to Pisces, turquoise is the birthstone for the Sagittarius sign, and Libras love opal and tourmaline. So if you are looking for a mala that aligns with your astrological character type, looking up your personal birthstones is certainly a good place to start.
I like to give a lot of thought to the meaning of every mala I make. I see it as its overall energy signature that captures its vibrations and makes it suitable for a certain intention. There are strength malas, emotional healing malas, malas for new beginnings, love malas, grounding malas, malas to accompany change, and many many more.
Depending on what you are currently going through in your life you may want to pick a mala that aligns well with the intention you wish to manifest. It can either be something you want to invite into your life or something that generally characterizes the life phase you are currently going through. Take time to identify the aspects that are currently important in your life. What do you want to cultivate or create? What emotional/spiritual/personal issues do you struggle with? What would you like to have more – or less – of? For example, if you have been going through a breakup you may want a mala that facilitates letting go and helps open your heart for brand-new energies. You may need more grounding energy if you tend to overthink things and find it hard to translate your thoughts into practice. Or you may crave some uplifting vibes if you find yourself in the middle of hard and challenging phases. Ask yourself what you would most like to invite into your life and choose a mala that carries this intention.
Most mala necklaces are knotted with 108 beads in 8 mm size. This standard-size mala will hang approximately to your lower belly when worn around the neck throughout the day. If you prefer a shorter mala you may either want to opt for a version with smaller beads which will shorten the total length, or choose a mala with a pendant instead of a tassel. These variants will also be a little more practical if you want to wear your mala as a wrapped bracelet.
Another thing to take into consideration is the structure and shape of the materials used in your mala. Do you want a traditional mala made with sacred materials such as rudraksha seeds or wood types like sandalwood or rosewood? Or, if you prefer a gemstone-only-mala, do you like perfectly round and uniform beads or facetted stones and irregular shapes? Since you will be using your mala for your meditation practice, the haptic feeling of the beads between your fingers may be important to you. The same goes for the guru bead. Some people like small and perfectly round stones while others prefer raw, asymmetric chunks as gurus on their mala.
Surrounding yourself with beautiful things is key to well-being, so of course you should pick a mala you find beautiful. Apart from your mala’s colors you should also like its general aesthetic. Some people love silky tassels while others prefer pendants on their mala. Some like all types of transparent beads, not matter the gemstone species. There’s nothing wrong with considering such practical factors when picking your mala. Even if you want a particular mala just because it perfectly matches your favorite yoga pants, why the hell should you forbid yourself to get it for that reason? In the end, it’s you who needs to feel comfortable with it!
Of all the factors you can take into account when choosing your perfect mala, your intuition is the one that holds the biggest power. When you find yourself obsessing over the right choice, let your intuition guide you. Usually the mala that first caught your eye is the one that resonates most with you. If you’re naturally drawn to a mala, this is probably the one you are meant to have.
In the end it doesn’t matter which colors are attributed to your zodiac sign or character type, or which gemstones are said to be perfect for a certain intention. The only thing that’s really relevant is how a mala makes you feel.
There’s a saying that it’s the mala who finds its wearer, not the other way round. So the answer to the question “How do I choose the perfect mala?” is: Do not choose at all. Let your mala choose you.