Mala beads have been used for thousands of years as a tool to support meditation and as a means of staying connected to a spiritual practice (what’s a mala?).
Personally, I didn’t fully understand their value until one became my anchor to sanity.
At a particularly rough time in my life, japa meditation—a practice in which you repeat a mantra (or prayer) over and over as a way of getting the mind into a meditative state—was the only thing that could drown out the deafening self-hate and judgment that was constantly replaying in my mind. The mala that I built to support that practice became a totem to the peace I was only able to find while I was meditating. I took that mala with me everywhere, I wore it every day, and I chanted on it until it broke. That mala and the meditation practice that grew from it not only helped me heal but also catalyzed phenomenal changes for me. Here is a list of the top five ways a mala changed my life:
1. My Mala Proved Me Wrong
I spent years telling myself and anyone who would listen that I couldn’t meditate; my mind was just too busy. All the methods that worked for other people just didn’t work for me. I tried everything: guided meditations, single focus meditations, walking meditations…I couldn’t stick to any of them because none of them “worked.”
With my mala, I developed a japa meditation practice that not only stuck but actually became something I looked forward to. As someone with a particularly vocal and over-active mind, japa meditation with my mala was so effective because the two collectively worked as an anchor for my mind. Occupied with visualizations around my mantra and its meaning, the sound vibrations in my body, and the feeling of my mala beads in my fingers, my mind became far less likely to stray and easily settled into the present. Today, japa mala meditation is my favorite form of meditation to offer to beginners or others like me who struggled with other methods.
2. A Door Closed and My Mala Opened a Window
I grew up in a big Italian-catholic family, raised mostly by my very religious Sicilian grandmother. When I got divorced, the church and ritual that I relied on as the vessel for my faith, no longer felt like mine. So, I was left with this deep sense of faith and I didn’t know what to do with it. My mala gave me the opportunity to explore my spirituality in an entirely new way and helped me to find new ways to express and develop my faith.
Whether you believe in a higher power, the universe, energy, or even just your own intuition, a meditative practice gives us the time and space to consider and experience that otherness. This space provides a buffer between us and our rational mind, and cracks the window just enough to allow us to be guided and inspired by something other than our thoughts.
3. My Mala Helped Me Change the Narrative
I have always struggled with negative thoughts, judgmental inner monologues, and very loud self-doubt. I hated the sound of my own voice because I was so accustomed to hearing it say nasty things about me. When I adopted a japa meditation practice with my mala, suddenly my voice was delivering these soothing mantras and sounds and I almost didn’t recognize it. Overtime, it was the negative messages that started to sound out of place in my voice and it became easier and easier for me to dispel them as untrue. As I reconnected to the vibrations of my own voice, the meaning of my mantra also became a part of me. Now, the truth I hear in my voice is love, clarity, and peace.
4. My Mala Delivered Portable Peace
My japa meditation practice was incredibly effective at helping me get and stay centered while I was on my mat. What I didn’t expect was to be able to reconnect to that sense of peace even when I wasn’t actively meditating just by having my mala with me. In moments when that familiar critic would pipe up or I would spiral back into old negative patterns, just running the strands of my mala through my fingers helped bring me back to a state of peace. Holding or wearing my mala also kept me connected to the energy and power of the healing crystals that were with me all day long and made me feel better…like I was being taken care of.
Not all malas are made of healing crystals and they certainly don’t have to be to be powerful. That said, your mala will carry with it the energy and qualities of whatever it is made of, who made it, and how it is made, so choose wisely.
5. My Mala Unlocked Hidden Potential
I know its cliché to say but my mala and my japa meditation practice truly helped me transform my life. I went from being divorced, living on my sister’s aero–bed, working a job I absolutely hated to living a life I never imagined possible. The inspiration and guidance I opened up to with this practice, allowed me to connect to my creativity and intuition in a way I never had before. It was through this practice that I came to understand the breadth of my abilities and learned how to let go of the fears that held me back for so long. I never saw myself creating something like Miraculous Malas, but seeing how these powerful pieces impact the lives of others makes me feel certain that this is my path. I am so grateful to have found this practice, my calling, and a community like Rise that is helping me share it.
About the Author: Katie Belfi is a recovering attorney who left the grind to follow her heart. Katie is a certified yoga and meditation teacher who now dabbles in consulting while working on growing her passion project, Miraculous Malas. Katie will be hosting a Malas, Mantra, and Meditation workshop at the 2019 Rise Gatherings Annual Weekend Getaway. You can order your own custom crystal mala at www.miraculousmalas.com. Use coupon code RISE2019 for 20% off your purchase!
For more information about Miraculous Malas please contact Katie at Katie@miraculousmalas.com.