Anyone reading or researching about success, personal development or spirituality will inevitably stumble upon recommendations and praise for the power of meditation. Did you know that there is even loads of scientific research in addition to the countless success stories to confirm the proclaimed benefits of mindfulness and meditation? It can reduce stress, anxiety & depression; increase happiness; improve focus & concentration; increase self-awareness & acceptance; encourage a healthy lifestyle and even slow aging.
So I had to ask myself - Why was I not doing it? I had so many excuses to talk myself out of even attempting it.
Clearly I was too busy and had no time to sit silently for hours, right!?!? First of all Lynn, (giving myself a reality check) get over yourself! It starts with one breath. Can you spare one focused breath a day? It is said that even as little as 10 minutes a day offers major benefits and I know I spend at least that much time checking social media when I first wake up. What about you?
I made a commintment to TRY.
So now I know I have time, BUT there certainly was no way my out of shape body could contort into those ridiculously uncomfortable yoga-like positions. I am cramping up just thinking about it. What I have come to learn is that another key to meditation is making sure that you are comfortable and relaxed. If that means you are lying down or in a comfy chair to start - then GO FOR IT! No contorted positions, muscle cramps or numb legs required.
We have eliminated the time excuse and the comfort excuse - so now what?
History of Mala Beads - Focusing the Monkey Mind
Being able to quiet your thoughts can be challenging. The “monkey mind,” as I call it, is constantly chattering on and on about your worries and things you need to do. How can you reach a state of peace and enlightened consciousness when you have no idea what you are going to make for dinner tonight or who will be killed next in Game of Thrones? My mind never stops talking and jumping and bouncing around. The early days of meditation for me were a sitcom in my head. A random thought enters stage left... mind starts spiraling & jumping from topic to topic... "Lynn, STOP thinking, breathe!"... peace for 10 seconds... random thought enter stage right... RINSE and REPEAT.
Finally, a friend of mine recommended trying Mala beads.
Turns out the Hindus & Buddhists in India thousands of years ago (8th century BCE) were also struggling with how to sit in quiet contemplation so they created “prayer beads.” Mala beads (“mala” being the Sanskrit word for garland) are a string of beads specifically designed to help a person with their meditation or prayer practice by focusing the mind on counting breaths, mantras, or affirmations.
Most sets of Mala beads are made of 108 beads. The number 108 has many sacred origins. “Renowned mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence. This number also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth: The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters.” (Yoga journal). The malacollective shares some of the other popular beliefs around the 108 mythology in mala beads:
- There are 108 stages on the journey of the human soul.
The possibility of enlightenment with taking only 108 breaths a day, while in deep meditation
Chakras (the seven energy centers): there are 108 energy lines connecting to the heart, with one of them believed to be the path to self-realization.
Mantras: When using your mala beads in meditation and chanting your mantra, some have said you are complete once you have done it 100 times. The 8 extra beads are to account for errors. Or even more beautiful, are meant to be an offering to your guru.
Letters: If reciting your mantra in sanskrit, the ancient script of India, the alphabet has 54 letters. Each letter has a feminine and masculine version — totaling 108.
What are Mala Beads Made Of?
Traditional mala beads were made with sacred rudraksha seeds, sandalwood or rosewood with one Guru stone typically made out of a crystal with healing properties. Mala beads are also now made using certain gems, crystals and stones whose healing properties and colors can focus your intentions and elevate your vibration..
Last year Laurie bought a special pair of Mala beads made of carnelian stones. “Carnelian helps to elevate creativity, inspires courage and confidence and grounds you as it helps to dispel fear and envy.” As she set out on her journey to be a healer, she needed all of these qualities. She wears her mala each and every time she conducts a healing and uses it when she meditates using her favorite mantras.
How to Use Mala Beads
Here is a nice basic example on how to use your mala beads. The goal is to focus your mind on your breath, a mantra or an intention.
As you can see, you do not need to know complicated mantras. This is perfect for me when I cannot still my mind. No need to be super spiritual either - the power of simple affirmations is incredible.
Why Use/Wear Mala Beads
Livshabad Kaur, founder of The Mala Project believes “my Mala is an essential spiritual tool for daily living. I consider it my keystone: the one element that holds the rest of my daily practice together. It is the visible reminder of my intentions - providing me with increasing peace, harmony and surrender throughout my day. It is like wearing your highest Self and serves as your own personal remembrance of your Big Why. After experiencing my own life-changing moment 10 years ago, and seeing the power of recitation and positive affirmation, I realized that this spiritual tool was one that needed to be disseminated. Who doesn't need a visible reminder of their truth?”
Choosing Your Mala
There are many sources online and in local metaphysical shops where you can pick up Mala beads anywhere from $25 - $300+. Like with crystals, In most cases the mala will choose you; you will be attracted to the color, stones & crystals that have the properties or intentions you need. Look around and see what you are drawn to.
If you are looking for a low cost alternative where the funds go to a great cause, you can order a set of Malas from Livshabad’s The Mala Project at the Teenie Yogini Site HERE. They bring low cost and free Yoga, Meditation and Reiki to children who are unable to have access to these programs due to social, economic or demographic reasons. You pay what you feel called to pay via a donation and each mala is crafted intuitively and charged with Reiki energy.
How about having a set of Mala beads made just for you? OSYL's Kim Galliher intuitively creates beautiful custom mala's specifically for what you need for healing.
Meditation is now a part of my daily practice - some days it is 30 minutes, some days only 5. Any time you can take to just BREATHE... just BE... is a step in the right direction.
We will be sharing loads more on meditation and mindfulness including FREE guided meditations and more. It is a process needing new habits to be formed. Through it all, remember to give yourself grace - lord knows I need it.