I always assume that – when I’m new to something – I’m the last one to learn about it. I probably should have linked to some information yesterday about malas since several of you were new to them too. But, I’m going to talk about them again today, so I’ll add some useful information this time.
A basic primer is here. Buddhists are the main religious group connect to malas, I believe, as it seems to be a dominant tool in their meditative practices. However, they’re used by many non-Buddhists and I actually have read the most about them simply by people who practice yoga seriously.
I read the basics about what mala should consist of. There are many different instructions in terms of types and colors of beads. Some say certain types of materials are meant for certain types of affirmations or mantras. Or that you use all wood only, except for a few colored beads where you meditate on something new. Some say specific minerals mean specific things. Others put no meaning in the material, and just in the intent. It does seem that, no matter who you are, 108 beads is always the way to go. Some say those 108 are supposed to be the “mala” and then there’s one dominant “guru” bead to hold while you string through the mala. However, I decided to just string the 108 and keep something different at the end to hold on to.
I pulled out my supplies yesterday, I wanted to use things that meant something to me. I didn’t want to get so focused on doing it a specific way, that it lost any personal meaning. I did keep the tassel and the 108 beads because those seem so significant across all groups. But beyond that, I chose things that meant something to me. I chose tiger eye beads as those remind me of trips to the science museum with my Dad (we got gemstone packs and that was always my favorite) with turquoise accents just because I’ve always loved those together. I choose an owl to go at the end as that “guru bead” just because I liked the idea of having the exact 108 beads only on the strand.
I started stringing my mala while I waited in the car line yesterday to get the kids. I enjoyed it so much that I finished while watching Donnie cook dinner. If stringing them was any indication, using them for a meditative aid is going to go really well. I wish I had an excuse to make more of these, just the act of making them was therapeutic.
I broke the sections up by 9 beads, 8 brown and one decorative/turquoise. That “9” value seems so important so I kept that in my planning. I had three small personalizations I wanted to make on my mala. Things that were mixed in with a bag of broken-but-sentimental jewelry. The first was that “be brave” banner. That was part of a necklace I adored and it’s just such an important sentiment.
The second was a piece of the 100-year old Dogwood tree that used to be at our botanical gardens. We camped by it and I’ve taken tons of photos of it. It reminds me of my kids, Donnie’s family, my Dad…and just general peace and beauty. I had bought several piece of jewelry made from it when they had to cut it down (it was a miracle it lived as long as it did) and that small rectangle is from a set of earrings that broke. So, that was added to the mala yesterday.
The last personal touch was an infinity symbol off a necklace that broke ages ago. The necklace was a gift to myself because that symbol reminds me so much of Dad, I got it tattooed on my wrist on the year anniversary of his death.
The weight feels great in my hands and it just brings me joy thinking about it. Even if it fails in being a meditation aid, it was worth it just to make something decorative out of pieces of jewelry that had broken!