About 6 months ago, Jacqueline Medalye the owner and creative force behind Salt Spring Malas invited me over to pick out the beads and special accents for a mala that she gifted me. In her workshop, I was surrounded by strands of crystal beads of all colours neatly arranged hanging on the walls. I was immediately drawn to these lovely matte beauties in colours of blues, whites, and greens. Jacqueline, explained the significance and qualities that the stones represented, we chose some accent beads to complete the Mala and then I was on my way. I couldn't wait to wear my beautiful strand of 108 beads but had to be patient as Jacqueline still had to make the Mala by hand threading each bead.
The mala in it's lovely storage pouch was delivered to me 2 weeks later and it was more beautiful than I remembered. While Malas can and often are worn as jewelry they are a tool to be used during Japa Meditation. This style of meditation uses a mantra - a word or short phrase repeated 108 times to focus and clarify the mind. To aid in staying on track, as it is really difficult to be focused on the mantra and keep count at the same time, a 108 bead Mala is used, with one bead representing one recitation of the mantra. The beads have a little bit of space in between them so they can be slid along the string that holds them together making it easier to use only one hand to keep track.
My mala has a lovely weight to it which makes using one hand to move the beads through my fingers even easier. The stones take on the warmth and oils from my fingers as I practice giving the mala a well worn and loved patina. I hang my mala up in a very visible place when I am not using it so it reminds me to take the time - even 5 minutes - each day to sit. Some days, I just hold the mala in my hands and don't use the whole strand for counting and it still works as a tool for focus and concentration. Ultimately, I know I don't need anything material to meditate but just like a comfy cushion makes meditation more enjoyable, a beautiful mala can be an inspiration to practice and a trusty tool during practice.
Jacqueline will be at the Nest this Wednesday October 27th from noon - 8pm selling a one of a kind collection of 108 malas, bracelets and other yoga jewelry at discounted prices. Hope to see you there.
Sarah-Jane loves learning, listening, sharing and doing yoga!