Your mala can serve as a symbol and reminder of the beauty, importance, and sacredness of your meditation practice. Observing the physical changes to your mala that happen with time and use is a great reminder of the nature of impermanence and your commitment to your mantra practice. You may also see this in the perspective of Wabi-sabi–the Japanese view of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Premature aging, wear, and breakage can be prevented and minimized using by following some simple guidelines. Mala beads may also need occasional physical and energetic cleaning to keep them looking and feeling gorgeous.
The use, wear, and storage of your mala beads should be done with great care, compassion, and mindfulness. Mala beads should be viewed as sacred spiritual objects and treated with respect and honor. As malas should not be left lying around carelessly or placed on the floor (or other unclean surfaces) we recommend keeping them in a mala bag or wood box when not in use.
How to keep your mala looking its best and to avoid premature breakages
• Keep your mala beads out of direct sunlight as this may cause the color of some stones to fade over time.
• Do not wear your mala beads while practicing any movement based activities as they could fall off or get caught on something and break.
• Avoid exposing your mala to water, especially if it contains wood or seed beads. Do not wear in the shower, bath or pool.
• Gemstone and crystal beads are fragile and can break or chip if dropped or exposed to extreme pressures. Avoid wrapping full malas around your wrist for long periods of time, as this puts stress on the beads and the mala string.
• Do not wear your mala while you sleep.
How to clean your mala
To clean most gemstone, wood and seed mala beads, put a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid in a bowl of room temperature water and soak for up to 5 minutes*. Keep the mala’s tassel out of the water if possible. After soaking, use a very soft toothbrush to brush the beads gently or use a lint-free cotton cloth to wipe the beads using a circular motion. After cleaning, carefully rinse the beads with water and pat dry with a clean soft towel. Place the mala beads in a warm area to dry. Wood and seed beads may need several days to be completely dry.
*This method is recommended for most types of gemstones, but some stones require special care. Do not soak Azurite, Selenite, Lapis lazuli, Opal, Turquoise, amber, emerald, chrysocolla, pearl, and Malachite beads. Instead, wipe with a slightly damp soft cloth and immediately dry them.
After cleaning, wood or seed beads may need to be wiped with a cold-pressed oil like almond, jojoba, or sesame to prevent drying out and cracking. Then lightly rub the mala beads with a soft, clean cloth to remove any excess oil.
A well worn and frequently used mala will have a tassel that is unwound and frayed. To spruce up a well-worn tassel you can dip the tassel in water, carefully smooth it out or gently comb it and then let it dry. You could also carefully iron your tassel on a low heat with a cloth over the top to help smooth it out. If the end of the tassel is frayed, you can trim the ends using sharp scissors. If your tassel is in really bad shape, you can restring the mala to replace the tassel with a new one.
Your mala may need occasional energetic cleaning and re-energizing. How often is up to you, but we recommend you perform one or more energetic cleanses after a physical cleaning of your mala. You can use one or more of the following mala cleansing techniques.
• Sprinkle or mist your mala with holy water or an essential oil hydrosol and let dry.
• Set your mala by a window or protected outdoor space to bathe overnight in the moonlight (this will be especially potent during a full moon).
• Hold your mala beads over some burning incense or sage while passing the beads through the smoke. Do this a several times to ensure thorough cleansing.
• Hold your mala between your hands and channel love and light into your beads.
• Create a mala mandala or crystal grid by placing your mala on your altar and surround the mala with other crystals and sacred objects. Let the mala mandala sit for 24 hours to allow the mandala energy to transfer into the beads.
• Place your mala on top of an Amethyst, Celestite or Clear Quartz cluster or crystal bed for 24 hours. These crystal cluster formations absorb, disperse and neutralize negative energies and also release positive energy to energize the malas at the same time.
• You can purify your malas with the resonating sound of Ting Sha Cymbals or Tibetan Singing Bowls. These bells are composed of seven metals that correspond to the seven chakras. The sound of a struck cymbal or bowl clears negative vibrations and facilitates unity, harmony, and balance.
• Cover or lay your mala on a bed of organic brown rice for 24 hours. After cleansing, throw away the used rice. You can chant “swaha” and think of a letting go intention as you toss the rice.