here. The 109th bead is the Guru bead, when you reach this bead you are to stop and thank your teachers and those who have influenced your life. Malas that are given as presents can be powerful tool for meditation.
article about the benefits of meditating. If you don't want to read the whole thing, I can recap it for you. Meditation helps you gain new perspective on stressful situations and build new skills to manage stress. Your self awareness is increased and you're able to focus on the present. Basically, meditation teaches mindfulness. There are SO MANY benefits to this.
Most malas are handmade. When purchasing, you want to stay away from any dyed products. I've begun making my own (that in and of itself is a great way to teach mindfulness... but that's a different article). Let me know if you have any questions!