Prayer beads, often associated with Catholic, Orthodox and Buddhist practice, are very useful; they help support prayerful practice in four ways. First, they are a physical reminder, prompting us to pray. Second, they are a counting tool. Third, like chanting, their repetitive nature can promote a meditative state. Using prayer beads is one way to deal with obsessive thoughts which plague the mind, giving it something else to obsess about that’s less toxic, even downright helpful. The words, like chanting, give our minds a focus, and pretty soon we’re not feeling as plagued or burdened by our worries, desires or regrets. Fourth, whether or not the mind allows for the existence of a transcendent element, they bring us closer to God. Some, even some who are not religious or are not Catholic, have found that saying the Hail Mary brings a sense of comfort and protection.
The traditional rosary is a string of beads that has a knot in it every so often, in a pattern, starting with a tail with a cross, a bead, three beads, and a bead, then having a repeating pattern of five sets of ten then one, before going back down to the tail as follows: [cross]… 1 ~ 3 ~ 1 … [ 10 ~ 1 ~ 10 ~ 1 ~ 10 ~ 1 ~ 10 ~ 1 ~ 10 ~ ] . You can make a rosary; easy PDF Instructions are now online to make, care for and use a rosary, including the prayers themselves. Enjoy!
Some people object to the same words, lifted over again in repetition, as insincere as a prayer form. However, some words (for example, “I love you”) are enjoyable, even when they’re something we’ve heard before or said before. Also, the point isn’t really to appease God, but to balance our own minds and hearts. We’ve also heard the objection that goes like this: since we cannot fully know God, there’s no point contemplating or developing a relationship with God. This argument doesn’t follow; it is like saying that, because we cannot live forever, we shouldn’t try to eat well and take care of ourselves. Just because we aren’t immortal or omniscient doesn’t mean we cannot get healthier, physically and spiritually. Following a more sensible and rational line of thought, you could look at any prayer support – such as beads – as a spiritual elliptical machine.