Why 108 stones?
A japa mala consists of 108 pearls.
108 is a sacred number and there are several reasons for this.
For example, there are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet and each letter has both a feminine and a masculine side. 2x54=108
There are 108 scriptures, 108 chapters in the Rig Veda, 108 Upanishads and 108 main tantras.
In Ayurveda it is said that there are 108 marmas (holy places) in the body.
Completely low-practice, you are supposed to repeat your mantra 100 times and then you have '8 extra' stones in case you should have made a mistake along the way.
A mala also has, in addition to its 108 pearls, a Guru. This marks the beginning and end of your mala. When you reach back to the guru in your meditation, it is important that you do not continue over the Guru. It will be disrespectful to your Guru and guide.
If you would like to extend your meditation, you can turn the mala in your hand and count back again.
In my malas I have inlaid 4 small break stones.
(The small 4mm beads).
The first break comes after the first 7 mantra beads.
Next break comes after 14 mantra gems.
Then there are 66 mantra gems you must go through before there is a break again.
In this way, you slowly build up to the long stretch, which I think is really nice. In the same way, one also steps out of meditation again.
You can either repeat your mantra 108 times or you can use your mantra mala to count your deep breaths.
Have fun - meditation is balm for the soul 🙏📿❤