I’m super excited to be facilitating a hands-on workshop this upcoming Saturday! I will be teaching how to make a Mala, and how to use it in a daily gratitude practice. I mentioned using a Mala in my last post, so I thought Id take a minute to explain what that is, and how they fit in to my perspective of the universe.
What is a Mala?
You’ve probably seen one and maybe not realized it. Its the prayer beads you see Buddhist monks wearing or carrying. Many modern western yoga practitioners have taken to wearing them wrapped multiple times around their wrists. They look like a long necklace of wooden or stone beads, usually 108 of them, and often have a tassel at one end. In Buddhism the 108 beads represent the 108 lies or impurities one must overcome to achieve Nirvana. There is also a kind that is a shortened version – just one row of 27 – that is worn as a bracelet. The beads of a Mala can represent the tenets a follower is meant to adhere to, the aspects of the god Siva (His followers originated the practice), or can be used to keep track of the repetition of mantras.
Some Prayer Bead Perspective:
It is estimated that roughly 2/3 of the world’s population uses prayer beads in their religious observance. The use of beads in prayer originated in Vedic tradition in India likely around the 8th century B.C.E. Buddhism, which developed from a sect of Hinduism, retained the use of Mala in prayer as it established itself in China, Korea, Japan, and Tibet. Scholars believe that Muslims adopted the use of prayer beads – called Subha or Misbaha – through contact with Buddhism and Hinduism roughly 600 years ago. By the late Middle Ages Catholic rosaries were in widespread use throughout western Europe, and officially adopted by the Catholic Church via Pope Leo X in 1520.
In modern time the use of prayer beads has broken away from its roots, and there are many people who use prayer beads as part of their personal spiritual observation, independent of major religious tradition. A Mala, or any format for prayer beads, can be a valuable tool for deepening meditation practices or for focusing on a mantra.
What’s a Mantra?
I dunno what’sa Mantra with you?
A Mantra is a sound or phrase that is repeated to aid a meditation. The word Mantra is composed of two parts: man, which is the root of the Sanskrit word for Mind; and tra which is the root of the Sanskrit word for instrument. Thus, a Mantra is an instrument of the mind – a powerful sound or vibration that you can use to enter a deep state of meditation. The ancient Vedic sages knew, just as modern science is proving, that all things in creation have a vibration, and that these vibrational energies are the manifestation of spirit into matter. Today, in addition to observing the primordial sounds of creation as recorded in the core Hindu texts, many people create personal mantras to induce a specific vibration in the mind toward a particular intention.
Silently repeating a mantra as you meditate helps you engage with the silence of the mind. As you repeat the mantra, it creates a mental vibration that allows the mind to experience deeper levels of awareness. Sole focus on and repetition of the mantra helps you disconnect from the whirlwind of thoughts that fill the mind. With breath and calm focus the mantra can become the gateway to the infinite mindscape. As you become calmer and more still the mantra will start to dissolve upon itself, allowing you to experience a profound sense of peace and well being.
Lets “Om” it Out…
When I make a Mala, or teach someone else how to, I like to take into consideration the vibrational energies of the materials I use. Why not have gemstones or colors incorporated into your prayer beads that are harmonious with your mantra, or that are reputed to help evoke a more balanced state of being? As far as gemstones go, there are numerous resources to find particular attributes of different stones. Proponents of gemstone and crystal healing regard these mineral formations as some of the more ancient energies on the earth, and as such they possess great wisdom and power. Here is a short list of some of my favorite stones, and their attributes, that will be featured in my workshop this weekend:
Amethyst – Long associated with opening psychic centers, Amethyst is a power stone for spiritual matters, as a meditation aid, and for creating a calm centered feeling. Amethyst is also regarded as a healer’s stone and can focus healing energy.
Bamboo Coral – Red Coral is a good aid for meditation and visualization; it symbolizes life and blood force energy. Red Coral is considered the most sought after color, and is featured as the spacer beads on the Dalai Lama’s own Mala (along with Brown Tiger Eye).
Black Onyx – Onyx formations often separate or shear off at their striations. Therefore it is useful for separating one from negative emotions such as sorrow and grief. It enhances self confidence and self reliance, sharpens the sense of perception, and encourages a healthy ego.
Clear Quartz – Quartz is known as the Master or Universal Crystal; the list of its benefits is extensive. It amplifies energy by balancing (creates harmony), focusing (great for inspiration, creativity, and learning), and transmitting (communication, psychic work) . It is also beneficial for manifesting change, focus and depth in meditation, and protection.
Garnet – Garnet brings light and hope to your life’s path, it fortifies courage to overcome problems, promotes self courage and opens the door for sharing with others. Balances the Root Chakra.
Jade – Jade is said to bless everything it touches, and has been valued for centuries for its beauty and powers of healing and protection. It is also considered the ultimate ‘dream stone’ aiding in access to the spiritual or dream world, encouraging creativity, lucid dreaming and empowerment in the dream state.
Lapis Lazuli – Lapis is an ancient gem and has a storied history. Ancient Egyptians would bury their dead with a Lapis scarab, believing that it would provide protection. The very earliest cultures valued it more highly than gold. When working or meditating with Lapis it can bring matters more clearly to mind. It is one of the most powerful stones, and should be used with care; it has a high intensity and can open many of the chakra centers. As such, it can assist one in becoming a channel. Many traditions feel this stone should only be used by trained healers, and must be done only with love in the heart, comprehension of purpose in the mind, and wisdom in the soul.
Malachite – Malachite is one of the most important stones for protection, it is an effective aid for success in business, and a stone of balance in relationships. The deep rich green reveals its ability to heal emotionally and physically, its lines and circles contain great motion and flow of energy.
Pyrite – Pyrite is associated with money, luck, and the fortifying strengthening energy of the sun. It is an excellent energy shield, as it dispels negative energy from various sources. It is especially good for overcoming inertia and feelings of inadequacy.
Rose Quartz – Rose Quartz is known as the love stone – it is a strong healer of the heart. It encourages self-love, romance, and enhances the ability to love. It balances the Heart Chakra and the Throat Chakra
Tiger Eye – Tiger Eye brings clear thinking and insight; it imparts good luck and protection to the bearer. Tiger eye or cats eye is a stone of the mind, not the body; it will cause the mind to have feelings of oneness and feel more direct in all thoughts. It makes one aware of one’s own needs in relation to the needs of others.
Turquoise – Turquoise carries great wisdom of basic truth within it. It teaches the wisdom of compassion and forgiveness. This is a stone that a person must learn to attune to instead of the stone attuning to the person. Turquoise balances emotions, promotes serenity, enhances communication and the sharing of insights, and assists in achieving wholeness and truth.
Are you inspired to get your Bliss on, and Rock out?!
I hope so. Listen. Making a Mala can be as easy as putting some beads on a string. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
If you feel like getting fancy try shopping for some gemstones on https://www.Firemountaingems.com. They’re my favorite, and their customer service is top notch.
Better yet – If you are in the Orlando area this Saturday (11/22/14) you can come create one in the workshop! Here is the link to the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1562415570654617/?ref_dashboard_filter=hosting
If you’re more of a ‘shopper’ than a ‘maker’ you can head on over to my store on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AzienaZen. I’m getting ready to put up some new Malas this week! If there aren’t any available when you are visiting, give me a shout! I’d love to make something just for you that you can use to be a powerful force for change in your Universe!