This is a questions I get all the time, "Why 108 beads in a mala?"... And the truth is that there are many explanations... there is no one reason...
Why 108 beads in a mala?
There are many connections to the number 108 that explain why there are 108 beads on a Mala. When using mala beads in meditation and chanting your mantra, it is said you are done when you reach 100 but the extra 8 beads are there to account for error or you can also offer those repetitions to your guru.
There is said to be 108 styles of meditation and that the human soul goes through 108 stages on the journey. The heart is our connection with the divine and God, and it is said that there are 108 energy lines converging to form the Heart chakra. One of them sushumna, leads to the crown chakra which is the path of realization.
In numerology the meaning of 1,0 and 8 is that 1 stands for god or higher truth, 0 stands for emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice and 8 stands for infinity or eternity.
There are 54 beads in a half mala, and 27 beads in a quarter mala, there are also malas that have 216 beads which are double malas... These are all variations to the original 108 beads.
Those are some of the most known explanations as to why 108 beads are used in a mala, however, regardless of all the beautiful, and interesting reasons behind this number, the most important part of using a mala, is that each mantra is done with deep love, compassion, devotion and for us to be in the present moment, which is one of the main reasons malas where created, to help us stay focused on our breathing, our mantras, and to help avoid distraction during meditation.