I Made A Magnificent Mala


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.

I made a mala
Ready for sealing and tuning

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

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I made a malaSaffron Robes

Getting Past ‘What Used To Be’

What Used To Be

I often hear about other people who have struggles in their lives and they often sound something like ‘Before x happened I could run for 15 km without even getting my heartbeat up’ or ‘Having x condition means I can’t play with my kids anymore’ or worse still ‘My kids are missing a mom/dad because of my health problem’.  All these things seem so true at the time that people say them.  I am in no way saying that people should not be able to vent and get out their frustrations.  It is a part of healing to let those feelings out.  What we do with those feelings can really make a difference, though.

I had a similar frame of mind when after months of having a tremendously painful headache, as a result of a Spontaneous Spinal CSF Leak, I thought there was nothing to do but lament and rant (believe me…I did my fair share)!

A New Perspective

It hit me one day though that in my daily life, I also found positives in every aspect of my day.  I had nurtured a daily practice of honouring my feelings of disappointment but focusing on the great occasions of each day.  Was it possible to do that now? When all I could do was lie in bed and force myself not to cry?

Well, the answer is, it was entirely possible and here is what I did…

6 Steps to Getting Past What Used To Be

1.  I decided that I had to deal with what I had at hand.  Like my daily practice of honouring my feelings, there was no use focusing on what happened yesterday because it was over…done…finished.  No sense dwelling on the terrible day I had, it was time to move on (that was my ‘what used to be’).

“If you have a problem that can be fixed, then there is no use in worrying. If you have a problem that cannot be fixed, then there is no use in worrying.” – Buddhist proverb

2.  Then, I made a point of avoiding the idea of tomorrow, too.  I know this sounds odd but worrying about future suffering can cause serious harm to my well-being in sickness and in health.  I can take a moment and look to the future (a quick glance) but there is nothing to be gained by lamenting and worrying about things that are completely out of my control…so, I stopped thinking about this party I missed, that outing I had wanted to go on, this place I wanted to visit.

(This was huge for me, it was my year of turning 50 years old and I had promised myself a yoga retreat, a weekend getaway with friends, a party with family in the summer, and three summer concerts that were ‘must-sees’ from a lifetime of waiting…all these plans had to go out the window).

3.  I stopped comparing my present self to my past self (or even the future self I thought I was on track to being).  Being healthy presents its own challenges with aging, and gaining or losing weight, with wrinkles and folds where you never knew they would be, and with any number of body issues I might have.  I had to let all those ‘ideals’ that I had of myself and leave them off the proverbial table.  I lost tons of weight at one point only to take steroids and bring the weight right back and add a whole bunch more.  What used to be of my toned and trim figure became atrophied and I had to just accept it. My value would in no way be defined by the year I spent in bed, so why on earth would I worry about what size my body was?

4.  It was finding the one thing I knew I could do consistently that allowed me to built upon it.  I went out in my garden every day for about ten minutes from about 6 AM each day.  I could spend a few minutes outdoors before the sun came around the house and made it too difficult to be out in the sunlight (CSF leaks often produce severe light sensitivity). But with just 10 minutes a day, I could find a tiny bit of solace by being outside admiring the flowers as they blossomed and grew and changed each day (you can read more about my flower meditation if you like).

flowers in mist

5.  After finding something I could do each day, I added to it to make it meaningful.  I realized that my being outside still had a very ‘me’ focus, so I made sure to make it more meaningful.  I decided to set a daily meditation intention on one flower each morning and to ask the Universe to help one other person other than myself.  This did many things: it took the focus off of me and my headache pain; it meant I was present when talking with friends to find who I wanted to send my energy to; and it meant that I had a mission each day that was completely separate from the other minutes I would spend for the rest of the day.

6. Once I gained the momentum of living with meaning, I took more opportunities to focus on what I could give to the world around me and minimize the deep regrets I was feeling.  I knew I was not being a ‘good wife’ or a ‘good dog owner’, or a ‘good friend’ but how could I be? Those things I wanted to have in my life were impossible and I knew, under normal circumstances, I would always strive to do my best.  I had to let those ideals go (also…thrown into the ‘what used to be’ pile).

Where could I focus my energy to make a difference and to help myself direct my focus on the positive?  How could I be of help to others? Find something that you can do to help others and you will be amazed at how much it actually helps you.  I have no idea how it really works but trust me when I tell you it does.  Helping others just feels good!


Opening The Doors

Getting beyond the point where I compared what used to be to my current situation is when the doors opened for me to change my internal settings.  I realized how limiting is was for me to continue to believe that there was nothing good about what was happening to me.  Our own thoughts can present some of the most devastating obstacles to our own growth and desperation spreads those thoughts like weeds in a garden.

No one had any idea that it would take more than a year to be treated for my condition.  I am so thankful that I didn’t spend all that time focusing on the things that were bringing my spirits down.  By focusing on little tiny positive increments each day, I was able to make a difficult situation bearable and found parts of me that I barely knew were there.

I am the sum of all my life lessons and that is surely SOMETHING WONDERFUL!

Love Ingrid x

P.S. I would love to hear about how you struggle with what used to be.  Feel free to leave a comment about a personal struggle you’ve had and any of the strategies and techniques you’ve used to get beyond those feelings and onto a happier state of mind.

#loveiseverywhere   #csfleaks   #spinalcsfleak    #today   #somethingwonderful

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