Buddhist prayer beads are a traditional tool used to count time while meditating using mantras. n Tibetan Buddhism, traditionally malas of 108 beads are used. Doing one 108-bead mala counts as 100 mantra recitations, the extra repetitions done to amend any mistakes in pronunciation or other faults of recitation. Malas are mainly used to count mantras. These mantras can be recited for different purposes linked to working with mind. The material used to make the beads can vary according to the purpose of the mantras used. Some beads can be used for all purposes and all kinds of mantras. These beads can be made from the wood of the Bodhi tree.
Mantras for magnetizing should be recited using malas made of saffron, lotus seed, sandalwood, or other forms of wood including elm wood, peach wood, and rosewood. To tame by forceful means, means to subdue harmful energies, such as "extremely malicious spirits, or general afflictions". Malas for these mantras are made from Rudraksha seeds, or even human bones, with 108 beads on the string. Only a person that is motivated by great compassion for all beings, including those they try to tame, can do this.
Mantras are typically repeated hundreds or even thousands of times. The mala is used so that one can focus on the meaning or sound of the mantra rather than counting its repetitions. One repetition is usually said for each bead while turning the thumb clockwise around each bead, though some traditions or practices may call for counterclockwise motion or specific hand and finger usage.