Tibetan mala prayer beads. Mala beads are like rosary beads, which are used for meditation. These mala are made of rosewood, which is believed to be good for the skin, improving circulation and strengthening an individual's aura while repelling negative energy. A mala is a string of 108 beads with one bead as the summit bead called a 'sumeru'. Mala beads are tools used to keep one focused on the meditation practice. The mala are moved in rhythm with breathing and saying a mantra, so that sleep and mental distractions are prevented. The mala is traditionally held in the right hand.