A mala is a string of beads traditionally used in prayer and/or meditation. They usually consist of 108, 54, 27, or 16 beads with one larger bead (the guru bead) and a tassel. The word mala translates to, "garland of beads, flowers, or prayers." A prayer mala stems from the traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism and is often used by yogis during meditation practice.  When a prayer mala is used during meditation, the beads are designed to help the practitioner keep count of the mantra being chanted. Additionally, they are often worn as jewelry, so the wearer can receive the energy of the gemstones. I encourage individuals to become familiar with their mala and utilize it however it feels right for him or her.