I love to wear Malas to help guide my thoughts. As a result, it helps me focus my meditation by twirling the beads through my fingers. I wrote about it some time ago, in my post called 6 Steps To Becoming Enough. A friend bought a bracelet for me from Malarae in Ottawa. Kyla Miller is the maker of the bracelets and malas and I wear mine mostly every day.
I have a long necklace that I made years ago at a Yoga festival. A wonderful group of women and I sat and threaded our beads and told stories. Although, it was a wonderful communal experience that I remember with fondness, frankly, I didn’t know much more about the beaded necklace than the basics.
Last month, I made my own Mala at a workshop that was hosted by my local Yoga Studio. I had wanted to participate in the workshop as a result of my love for beading and for all things meditation. This was the workshop for me.
Malas 101 (by me)
A Mala is the wonderful necklace or bracelet you often see Buddhist people wearing. They are made of stone, wood, seeds, or other natural beads. They often hang with a wonderful tassel at the end of them. Much like the Christian equivalent of a rosary. People gently shuffle the beads through their hands or pass over each bead one at a time from start to finish. They have 108 beads since 108 is a sacred number in many Asian cultures.
The 108 bead Mala is said to have an intention. Therefore, the person who wears the Mala wears it for a certain purpose. I lived in Japan for 14 years, where you could buy them at most temples and they were sold by the intention: health, luck, abundance, safe driving, good results on an exam, fertility, etc. More authentic, handmade Malas, are set with intention as the person threads the beads. Hence, if they are hoping for abundance, they would think the word abundance. Repeating the word as they put each stone bead onto the string.
The Love Yoga Newsletter describes a mala this way:
A mala (the Sanskrit name for ‘garland’) is a set of beads traditionally worn and used for meditation. Malas are typically made of 108 beads (108 being a sacred number in many Eastern cultures) and serve to keep count of the wearers affirmations by focusing their awareness and staying mindful in the present moment.
Paul McDermid, our instructor told us to thread our Mala with our intention word as each bead went on. She had thousands of beads all separated into colour groupings. We selected beads and placed them on a wonderful Mala tray. From there, we ‘built’ our Mala each bead at a time in rough form before threading the beads.
I could hardly wait to start.
Our fabulous instructor told us to choose the beads to which we were most attracted. She would tell us when our malas were tied what the significance of each stone held. I loved the idea of not knowing what the Universe would have me choose.
Getting Started To Thread The Beads
Firstly, we chose our beads. I was delighted to count out the various colours and align them and arrange them in a way I liked. Selecting each stone, I chose, placed, arranged, rearranged, and contemplated. Due to my illness, my intention word means a lot to me at this time in my life (you know I love my affirmations and intentions as I write about these topics often) so I had no trouble choosing it.
I was instructed not to share the word because it is personal to me.
Consequently, I am never to share my mala with another or let them put it on as it is literally not intended for them. (I’m not entirely sure about that…but why tempt fate?) Apparently, energy could pass to the natural stone and be held in or could create an adverse vibration. It seems like that could be a possibility.
While I threaded my mala, I had the chance to talk with the other participants (I was with a friend so conversation flowed easily). The other members were fun to talk to, easy to get to know, and open to letting the conversation flow or to sit in silence as the energy ebbed and flowed in the group.
My necklace was threaded, and Paula glued the last stones in place next came the really exciting part came.
Sealing and Tuning My Mala
Paula took us in one-by-one to a room where she had a set of crystal singing bowls. This is where we were going to tune our malas. She and I entered the room where she told me the various meanings of the stones I had chosen and then asked me to cleanse the mala in the first bowl.
Tibetan Singing Bowls or Crystal Singing Bowls are used to cleanse and tune the energy of the beads. Each person, as they touch an object, gives off energy. So, the energy that we want in the mala (our intention) needs to be set into the mala according to each of the 7 Chakras. There’s a crystal bowl, one for each of the Chakras in our body, and one more to initially cleanse the necklace.
The bowls go from smallest to largest according to the appropriate chakra. Especially noteworthy here is once I start tuning/sealing my mala, I am the only one who is to touch it until we’re done. The idea is not to get another person’s energy in my beads. Therefore, I placed the mala in the first bowl and cleansed it. Next, with a tool much like a soft drum stick, I tapped the outer edge of the bowl and rubbed along its outside edge gently.
It was magical!
This experience will stick with me
The sound of the ringing of the crystal filled me from the inside out. It vibrated inside my heart and brain and echoed out to the room around me. As a result of the varying sizes, each bowl vibrates at a different frequency creating a different sound and wave. In addition to this, your own state of being either enhances or hampers the sound.
What an experience!
I did this with each of the chakras: root chakra, sacral chakra, solar plexus chakra…all the way up to the crown chakra. My experience of tuning my own Mala filled me with a sense of harmony. I felt a sense of belonging on this planet that I have never felt before that day. I was literally over-joyed and felt lifted up by the Universe. This feeling lasted for a very long time afterwards. Was it due to my heart vibrating in harmony with the earth? Each day, when I looked down at my mala as it dangled around my neck, I had a huge smile on my face.
Could making your own mala be something that could lift your spirits? Do you have something that you created that helps to focus your attention? Please feel free to share these precious things in your life by leaving a comment.
I hope you get the chance to experience SOMETHING WONDERFUL like making a mala!
Love Ingrid x