Meditation has helped my anxiety and personal growth immensely. I find that I have better days when I meditate, but there are several forms of meditation. The kind that I enjoy the most is using a mantra that is synchronized with my breath. I use mala beads to keep my mind focused on the mantra and not drifting as much. In this post, I’m going to show you in detail what all goes on when I make one, as well as how you can use one.
I started trying out meditating while attending a yoga class at my university’s gym. The idea of laying there in corpse pose, imagining that you’re melting into the floor, and just focusing on the sound of the breath was like a mini-vacation from the turmoil I was experiencing during that time in my life.
When I left college, I left meditation behind. It wasn’t until recently that my therapist suggested I pick it up again that I rediscovered it, and found it was a bit harder. I found that this time, focusing on my breathing wasn’t working. I was stressed, I was overthinking, really negative with sadness and anger and I needed something that helped quiet that. I tried guided meditations, focussing on chakras and even just doing a mantra in my head, but all of those things seemed swamped by my thoughts. Pretty soon I found that my hour to meditate was eaten up and turned into an hour of worrying.
I did some research on what I could do about this and came across Mala beads. I was fascinated that a lot of cultures use beaded necklaces to focus their minds. The closest to me was my Catholic extended family. They often had rosaries and explained that it helped when doing prayers. Christians aren’t the only ones who use beaded necklaces or prayer beads in their religious rituals. Islam also uses prayer beads as does Ahmadiyya, Sikhism, Hindus, Buddhists, and the Baha’i faith as well.
For me personally, I use my Mala beads in tandem with breathwork and a mantra. First, when I sit to meditate I ask myself what I’m feeling or needing for that day. It might be confidence, to be less negative, or to feel and show more love. In the case of the later, I’ll think of a mantra something like “I receive love” and “I give love”. I then sync that to my breath. When I breathe in, I will say mentally “I receive love” and I try to imagine love flowing into me. When I exhale, I imagine giving that love to the world and saying mentally “I give love”. At the end of this, I will move a new bead into my fingers and start that process again. What this does is it gives me multiple things that are positive in the moment to focus on instead of my thoughts. I am focussed on the feeling of the bead that I’m holding, I’m focused on my breath, I’m focused on my mantra, and I’m also focussed in envisioning where I want to focus these thoughts to go. Usually, I like to go and breathe love to each of my chakras. With all this going on, there isn’t a lot of time for me to worry. If I do find my mind drifting it’s easy to bring it back to focus on any of the things above.
The making of a Mala necklace is symbolic as well. I currently sell some at my SHOP and I have to say, I really enjoy making them. It’s not just that I think of the energy of the crystals I’m working with, but setting my intention for the person who buys the necklace. I think things like “I hope you feel safe” if I’m working with a protective crystal, like obsidian. Rose quartz is a crystal I work a lot with for my giveaways and when I make these necklaces, I try to think of the gratitude I’d want the wearer to feel knowing that I appreciate them following me. I also try to wish them love because Rose Quartz is all about love. I even hand make the tassels because I feel like when I cut them from loops into separate strings, I’m wishing that the person who receives that necklace feels a cutting from the things that are hurting, upsetting, or keeping them from their best self.
I choose string-based not just how it looks with the stone it’s paired with, but what it means in terms of psychology. As an artist, the psychology around color is extreme. You can case people to think and feel all kinds of ways by changing the color of something. For example. A room painted all black or all red, might feel ominous, claustrophobic and angry or haunted were as a room painted all white might feel expansive, open and peaceful. So I try to consider that when I chose the string for my beads. I think of how it relates to a feeling, or if it applies to a chakra. I have a Mala that uses black Obsidian beads, and for that, since those are for protection, I chose red string. Not only do they look striking together, but the red chakra, located at the base of the spike, is all about the need to feel safe and protected. So naturally, I feel like those two go together.
Malas necklaces typically come with 108 beads, plus a “Guru” bead which is traditionally not counted. 108 seems to be a reoccurring number in science, religion, and technology. A guru bead is traditionally not to be included when you use the Mala. It symbolizes the state of enlightenment and the whole reason you’re meditating in the first place. These can come in a variety of designs. I tend to like to stick to a simple design for my Malas. For me personally, I’ve found my journey to “enlightenment” to be less flash and bang, and more a slow growth, like a flower grown from seeds. It’s simple and yet complicated at the same time.
As I stated above, I make my own tassels. I can buy them premade but after reading about the spirituality that goes into making one I had to make them myself. The tassel is started by taking a string and winding it several times around a card (or in my case I use my hand). This can be symbolic of the monotony of life. After I’m done and feel like it’s of adequate size, I tie it, (uncut so it’s just a giant loop) to my Mala necklace. After that, I take another string and I wind it around the top part of the tassel. Some people only do this four times to signify the elements or directions on a compass, I tend to do it more because since it’s going to another person, I want it to hold up through long term use. Once it’s strongly secured, I cut the loops so that it creates the tassel part, and as I said before this can symbolize cutting ties with the past, or monotony and seeing the many paths life has out in front of you.
Every time I make a Mala, I think of these things. It’s a beautiful experience to make and to own. I hope you’ve have gained some understanding of it being something other than a fashion item. Feel free to visit my shop where I have a pretty large assortment of Malas which I have made by hand. If you’d like to try your hand at winning one of these, please SIGN UP HERE. I do drawings on average once a month. Feel free to visit me and say “hi” in the comments below, or follow me on any of my social media.
If you’re looking for a way to meditate that will help calm your mind I hope this post gave you some ideas. I wish you a wonderful day and a successful meditations. -Heather Astaneh