Why Malas?

Until this year, I had never even heard of a Mala.

When I bought my first Mala, I was ignorant of what it was and what it represented. I found it at a yoga studio in San Diego. The studio,  Pura Vida Yoga, is a charming studio in the Gaslamp Quarter that teaches  Vinyasa classes in a moderately heated room. The studio was sparsely decorated, but has a beautifully painted Om symbol on the wall. The instructor (I have forgotten her name and didn’t see her on the website) was very friendly and inquisitive. While chatting with her about my travels, I spotted the Mala in the boutique. During the entire class, I kept thinking about the necklace. After the class I purchased the necklace and wore it non-stop for several days. Since I tend to collect jewelry on my travels, it is not unusual for me to feel connected to a place or feeling while wearing a specific piece. This necklace connected me to a feeling of peace, which is the feeling I usually experience during my yoga practice.

My first Mala.
My first Mala.

I am not exactly sure how I realized the necklace was a Mala. I think I was randomly looking at items on Etsy and saw a similar necklace tagged as such.  I started searching online about the meaning and significance of Mala beads. While I do not consider myself to be a religious person, I am a person who appreciates the necessity of rituals for calming a nervous soul. I knew instantly that I could utilize the Mala ritual to help me during times of extreme anxiety.

A few weeks later, I found myself feeling very nervous on a flight to Tokyo.  It was a routine flight, but I started to feel very nervous as this was my first trip to Asia and I only planned on being there for about 24 hours before returning home to the Seattle area. I was wearing the Mala pictured above and I followed the instructions I had read to try to appease the building anxiety. Holding the Mala in my left hand, I slowly touched each bead between my thumb and forefinger while repeating the mantra “I am Fearless“.

man·tra
ˈmantrə
noun
noun: mantra; plural noun: mantras
  1. (originally in Hinduism and Buddhism) a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.
    • a Vedic hymn.
    • a statement or slogan repeated frequently.
      “the environmental mantra that energy has for too long been too cheap”

When I reached the last bead, I flipped the Mala over (to prevent going over the Guru bead) and continued to repeat my chosen mantra. I think I did this at least 10 times before my wave of anxiety began to abate and I began to feel okay with what my mind was processing at the moment.

My Tokyo trip did end up being very stressful (this is a story that deserves it’s own post), but I was able to handle the situation by reminding myself that I am fearless.

What I learned from this experience motivated me to try to share this tool with other people who may need a simple ritual to help them during stressful times. I had contemplated re-ropening my Etsy store to sell jewelry, but prior to this I was unsure of what my focus was. Now, I know that I wanted to make Mala beads for other people who may experience anxiety or need a way to focus their thoughts. So, I renamed my shop Creating Clarity and started creating!

Bone Mala
Bone Mala

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