The use of beaded bracelets has developed beyond than just being used as items of fashion–they are now widely used for spiritual use. The Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains and Yogis all use bracelets in their prayers and meditations. In the Tibetan and Buddhist traditions these beads are sacred and highly potent spiritual materials for worship, praying or chanting and even to effect healing and relaxation.
What is a Buddhist Bracelet?
A Mala or Buddhist bracelet is an item of Tibetan and Buddhist prayer or worship. A full sized Buddhist mala consists of a string of beads numbering up to 108, but a bracelet mala will have a fraction of this number. The beads are counted starting from the biggest bead or the Guru bead and moved down with the thumb to the next as the prayer progresses. The mala keeps a mental focus when praying or reciting the name of a deity; it also helps in keeping count of the prayer round. The word Mala is actually from the Sanskrit which refers to the holding and counting of the prayer beads or bracelets.
How to Wear Buddhist Prayer Bracelets
Wrist malas or Buddhist bracelets are specifically designed to be worn on one’s wrist. Wrist Malas use an elastic cord that stretches around the hand to be worn as a bracelte. Many Buddhist bracelets can be worn at once–this is commonly called a “mala stack.” Traditionally mala beads are worn on the right hand, but many yogis wear them on both.
Do you have to be a Buddhist to wear mala beads?
No. Since almost every spiritual tradition has some form of prayer beads, using and wearing a mala is considered a universal practice. It is important to wear, use and store your prayer beads with respect and reverence.
How Many Beads are on Buddhist and Tibetan Bracelets?
The Buddhist and Tibetan bracelets come in a variety of numbers and size depending on the number of rounds of prayers or chanting to be made. Wrist Malas come in 18, 22, 21 and 27 beads. These are all divisions of the full mala consisting of 108 beads. This number is calculated astrologically as representing the 12 astrological houses multiplied by the 9 solar planets.
What are the Kinds of Beads used for Tibetan Bracelets?
Tibetan Buddhist bracelets are made from many different materials. Some are made from coral beads or wood materials other are made from silicon and semiprecious stones as the case may be. It is also believed that the electric charge of the material used for making the Malas or Buddha bracelets also enhances prayers or chanting when used properly. Also the colors of the material used is believed to have a good or negative astrological influence on the user.
How to use Buddhist Beads for Meditation
Usage of Mala or Buddhist beads for prayer or chanting starts by counting it from the biggest bead which is also called the Guru Bead or the Bead Head. At the conclusion of a prayer, chanting, mantra or the reciting of the name of a deity, the bead is moved using the thumb to the next bead. When you reach the Guru Bead, kit means you have concluded a circle of prayer. You can start another round of prayer if it is your wish by turning the other way round. Crossing the Guru heads is a sign of disrespect for the Deity or the Godhead.
- Japa Mala Beads -
Did you know people with anxiety tend to notice changes in facial expressions quicker than those without anxiety? However, their perceptions don’t always match up with reality, according to a study published in the Journal of Personality. Those with anxiety tend to overthink and easily jump to conclusions, which can lead to conflict in personal relationships.
Anxiety can wreak havoc on someone’s life and can become debilitating without proper treatment. Anxiety usually presents with some or all of the following symptoms:
- Excessive anxiety and worry – about various different activities – occurring more days than not for at least six months
- Difficulty controlling the anxiety
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Easily fatigued
- Trouble focusing
- Muscle tension
- Significant impairment in work, school, and/or relationships
The above symptoms describe generalized anxiety disorder. Anxiety can present with other symptoms as well, depending on the diagnosis. For example, if a person suffers from social anxiety, he or she will find it difficult to converse with others and may sweat, blush, or have a rapid heart rate when talking to people.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorder in the U.S., with over 40 million people suffering from one in a given year. Unfortunately, many people don’t seek treatment for anxiety; if left untreated, anxiety can lead to depression, suicide, and other health problems. Not everyone has access to quality health insurance, which can make conventional treatment out of reach for some people. In this article, we will go over some natural ways to deal with anxiety so you can gain control of your mental health.
HERE ARE 5 WAYS TO OVERCOME ANXIETY AND INCREASE MENTAL STRENGTH:1. TAKE ACTION, EVEN IF YOU DON’T FEEL READY.
Many people with anxiety suffer from what’s called “analysis paralysis,” or feeling so overwhelmed by all the choices in the world that they remain stuck in one place. In other words, they cannot make a decision because the fear of making the wrong choice stops them from trying. This way of thinking causes you to ruminate on every possible choice you could make and consider every outcome, but paralyzes you from taking action.
The solution: Write down all the possible outcomes or solutions to a problem and then consider the pros and cons of making each choice. This way, you have a visual in front of you to bring clarity to the thoughts in your head. You could also just try out a few of the options on your list without writing them down. Remember: you don’t have to stick with any of the ideas, but it will feel better to move forward with your life and at least try out something new. It might actually work in your favor!2. DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN PERFECTION.
An obsession with being perfect can also paralyze you with fear and overthinking, causing you to remain stuck in life. Perfection doesn’t exist, yet we all strive for it. Wanting better for yourself in life isn’t a bad thing, but there’s a thin line between making progress and obsessing over your performance. Many people with anxiety feel like they have to achieve perfection 24/7, which can lead to burnout and unhappiness.
The solution: Don’t focus so much on the outcome; instead, pay more attention to the journey. Actually enjoy the process, whether you’re trying to climb a mountain or finish your thesis in college. Simply take action instead of sitting for hours worrying about how to do something or what step you should take. “Doing it badly” will serve you much better in the long run than doing nothing at all. That way you can learn from your mistakes and change what you do the next time around.3. BECOME YOUR BEST FRIEND.
A lot of people with anxiety, particularly social anxiety, don’t practice self-love regularly. They allow negative thinking about themselves to distort their self-image, which can make them spiral into further self-doubt. If you had a friend who constantly doubted you and put you down, you probably wouldn’t remain friends with them for too long. However, we allow the voices in our heads to destroy our self-image without even thinking twice about it. This can cause a lot of damage to our self-esteem.
The solution: Studies have shown that self-compassion can work wonders for people with social anxiety. You might very well be your own worst enemy, while others don’t judge you so harshly. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Realize your strengths and good qualities, and focus on those instead of all your perceived flaws.4. HAVE A SET “WORRY TIME” EACH DAY.
If you allow yourself to worry at all times throughout the day, you’ll quickly become burnt out and overwhelmed with fear. Unfortunately, those with anxiety have a difficult time turning off their brains from the thoughts that seem to run on autopilot. Controlling the thoughts will help you get your anxiety under control.
The solution: We set times for doing a lot of different tasks, from cleaning dishes to reading a book to doing laundry. So, why can’t we do the same with worry? Theoretically, we can. Just as you set your alarm for work or school, you can set your alarm for a specific “worry period” during the day. Doing this during the morning might work best since you can get it out of the way and focus on the day ahead. Worrying at night too close to bed may keep you up with ruminating thoughts, so try this in the morning when you feel fresh and renewed.5. COMMIT TIME EACH WEEK TO VOLUNTEERING.
It’s written in our DNA to help others; after all, we need each other to survive. If you spend all your time just worrying about yourself, part of you will remain unfulfilled. Whether we realize it or not, we crave social connections. We need other people to need us and our strengths. Connections to others can help shield us from mental illness since we then have someone else to focus on besides ourselves.
The solution: How can you find purpose in your life with others in mind, you ask? You could volunteer at a nursing home or hospital or read books to children in foster homes. If you’d rather work with animals, you could visit a shelter for dogs. No matter what you choose, having a purpose in your life and making yourself important in the eyes of others will take your attention off of yourself and place it on meeting the needs of the people (or animals) who depend on you.
OTHER WAYS TO DECREASE ANXIETY:
- Avoid thinking of the worst-case scenario.People with anxiety like to think of the worst possible thing that can happen so that they can prepare for that event. However, most of the time, the terrible thoughts they’ve allowed to fester don’t become reality, anyway. The mind suffers greatly when fear becomes the driving force of our focus and attention, even if you think that you’ll have a better handle on a situation because of your anxiety.
To overcome this, mental health expert Alicia Boyes says, “I use suddenly feeling overwhelmed as a cue to hunt for thinking errors. If I ever feel overwhelmed by an email, I tell myself, ‘There’s a ninety percent chance my reaction is just my good old anxiety brain, and that the request will seem easy when I look at it with fresh eyes tomorrow.’ I’ve had enough experiences of this alternative thought being true, to believe it!”
- Don’t fear criticism.People with anxiety, particularly those with social anxiety, have an intense fear of negative judgment. This usually means that the sufferer will respond in one of two ways: either avoid the anxiety trigger altogether (ex. people), or become a people-pleaser and forget about their own desires.
Unfortunately, even people with anxiety disorders must deal with the stresses of daily life, and this often means coming face-to-face with what triggers them, such as people. Anxiety can cause people to become very critical of themselves and second-guess their decisions and work.
Alicia says, “If the occasional reaction or feedback I get is negative, it’s not the end of the world and is typically something I can learn from. I also remind myself that when something I’ve done wrong is pointed out, it’s usually fixable rather than a catastrophe.”
We hope this article helped you see anxiety in a different perspective and realize that you can get a handle on it with some simple, but powerful, shifts in thinking. Positive thinking and reframing thoughts so that you don’t get stuck in black-and-white thinking can do wonders for your anxiety.
Mental illnesses such as anxiety might seem overwhelming and debilitating, but they only take control of you if you give them that power. Remember your own strength and you can take control of your mind and regain your life.
-- Power of Positivity --
Looking for jewelry can be an overwhelming task as there are always many options from which to choose. However, when you hit the market you will find that gemstone jewelry is and has been the most popular option for ages. Gemstones have been part of jewelry making since the earliest civilizations.
Today, the most beautiful jewelry collections use different precious stones to add a sense of beauty. However, besides their exquisite beauty and appearance, there are many other benefits of wearing gemstone jewelry. This article highlights some of these benefits.
Most Popular Gemstone Jewelry
Before learning the benefits of gemstone jewelry, why not look at some of the most popular gemstone jewelry in the market today. They range from amethyst rings and necklaces, amber rings, opal jewelry, turquoise, topaz, sapphire gemstone earrings, ruby earrings and necklaces, diamond earrings, ring and pendants, Morganite gemstones, and aquamarine gemstone necklaces.
Other gemstones that are used to make jewelry include Peridot, aventurine, carnelian, chalcedony, citrine, crystal quartz, emerald, Pearl, Fluorite, hematite, iolite, garnet, jade, labradorite, lapis lazuli, moonstone, onyx, opal, pyrite, and tanzanite.
Reasons to Wear Gemstone Jewelry
There are many reasons to buy and wear gemstone jewelry. These including:
- Versatile Designs
You can choose gemstones for any accessories like earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings among others. Whether you want a beautiful engagement ring or a necklace for an evening, you can choose from a wide range of popular gemstones. These include diamonds, sapphire, and amethyst among others. For trendy jewelry, you can always find a choice in gemstone jewelry.
- Timeless Beauty
If you want to achieve a chic, stylish look, you can never go wrong with gemstones. These stones take you back to an older age as they ooze a timeless beauty, which you cannot find in artificial jewelry. For instance, wearing a beautiful ruby ring, gives you a unique look, which is hard to replicate with any other form of jewelry.
You should invest in more gemstone jewelry if you want to dazzle others every time you walk out of the door.
If you are trying to achieve an elegant look, then gemstone jewelry is what you want to wear. When you wear a diamond necklace, for instance, you effortlessly get that desired elegant look. Other gemstones that add an elegant touch to your look include opals, pearls, emerald, tourmaline, aquamarine, sapphires, rubies, garnet, and topaz.
- Unique Natural Benefits Of Every Gemstone
One of the reasons natural materials became popular in jewelry making included health benefits. These gemstones have unique natural benefits and wearing your jewelry allows you to enjoy these natural qualities. Take a look:
- Silver Jewelry:It alleviates body pain, boosts bone health, reduces blood pressure and uplifts your mood.
- Pearl jewelry:Treats digestive problems, boosts fertility and helps control emotions.
- Garnets:Boost your energy levels and your confidence.
- Amber jewelry:Used to relieve neck head and throat pains, as well as deal with fatigue, pressure, and anxiety.
- Amethyst jewelry:It has a calming effect and is said to provide relief against anxiety. It is ideal for people who suffer mood swings as it brings peace and happiness. Wearing this jewelry lulls the mind and has a calming effect on you.
- Aquamarine:It can have a positive effect on your digestive system, eyes, and teeth. Wearing it also brings happiness and inner calm.
- Goldstone/sandstone:This beautiful stone also generates positive energy and wards off any bad energy. It also helps relieve arthritic pain and strengthen bones.
- Jade:According to the Chinese, this is the stone of wealth and health. It helps by affecting emotional balance in a positive way, and boosts humility, inner peace, stamina, and love.
- Rose quartz:A popular gemstone for those who are looking for peace and calm. It is good to heal heartbreak and wearing this jewelry gives you soothing energy to overcome turmoil in your life.
- White, clear, or rainbow colored moonstone:Wearing jewelry with this gemstone helps you achieve balance and enjoy inner peace. This jewelry also alleviates anxiety, depression, insomnia, and promotes creativity. It is also believed to help combat other ailments.
- Yellow, brown, or red colored amber:Wearing jewelry with this gemstone helps treat headaches and reduce stress.
- Citrine:Boosts positive energy and promotes emotional well-being. Some people also say it helps with digestive ailments, sleep problems, hearing difficulties, pain and
- Aquamarine:In addition to its unrivaled beauty, aquamarine jewelry helps the wearer cope with digestive, eye, and teeth problems. It also has positive energy, which brings happiness to the wearer.
- Agate jewelry:This semi-precious jewelry bestows the wearer with better physical and emotional balance. It also aids with problems of the digestive system, the blood, skin, and intestinal tract.
- Black opal:Believed to be a good luck charm and boasts of providing psychological benefits, including increasing self-confidence.
- Turquoise:Helps to ease feelings of negativity and low self-esteem.
- Diamonds:Diamond jewelry is a no-brainer for every woman who wants to look stunning. It is the hardest material known to man, yet it is also beautiful and many believe it has healing powers. It is the gemstone mostly associated with love and if you want to impress a woman, this is the one to choose.
- Lapis Lazuli:Known to man for centuries, Lapis Lazuli is not only beautiful but the Romans also believed that this gemstone had healing properties.
Every gemstone you find today has a rich history and people beliefs about each of them. In addition to their majestic beauty, gemstones also have other properties that help with boosting creativity, relieving negative energy, boosting digestion, treating amnesia among others.
If you are looking for gemstone earrings, don’t just consider the beauty of the gemstone but look for jewelry that has other inherent benefits.
- By Dazzling Rock -
It’s tonight, the big date you’ve been waiting for. You’ve got to find the perfect thing to wear!
To really make a statement, you go to your jewelry, but what do you choose?
To save yourself this stressful question, add some sterling silver jewelry to your collection! Extremely versatile and simply gorgeous no matter its setting, sterling silver should be your go-to accessory.
If you’re thinking it’s out of your price range, think again. Though it’s precious, sterling silver is available for just about any budget.
There are many benefits to wearing sterling silver. So many it may surprise you. Keep reading to learn ten of these surprising benefits.
- Hypoallergenic Properties
One of the greatest benefits of sterling silver is that it’s hypoallergenic! While many people are allergic to certain metals, like nickel, sterling silver isn’t likely to cause any problems.
Some jewelry may just be silver plated, though, so look for a label that says “925” or “silver” to make sure it’s solid silver.
- Fantastic Durability
When you purchase a piece of jewelry you want it to last. Especially if you paid more than a couple bucks for it. As long as you care for your sterling silver jewelry properly you’ll never have to replace it.
While it may cost you more to purchase true sterling silver, it’s absolutely worth it in the long run. Want your wedding ring to look exactly as it did the day you got it 20 years from now? Go with sterling silver.
To make sure you’re properly caring for your sterling silver jewelry, read more here.
- Inexpensive Luxury
If you don’t want to break the bank but don’t want to wear drugstore jewelry, sterling silver is your best friend. Sterling silver is a precious metal, but it’s far cheaper than other metals like gold or platinum.
Pamper yourself the way you’d love to by wearing sterling silver. Get the amazing look and longevity you’re looking for, all while preserving funds for other things.
Store your jewelry in an orderly fashion and you’ll always have luxury in a pinch!
- Never-Ending Trendiness
Sterling silver is perfect for anyone who likes to keep up with the trends. Why? Simply put, sterling silver doesn’t go out of style!
Whatever the public eye turns to, be it gems, simple bands, bracelets, or necklaces, sterling silver will always be among your metal choices.
When you purchase and wear sterling silver you’ll never have to worry if you’re stylish enough.
- Well-Earned Reputation
No matter how you wear it, sterling silver has a reputation in the jewelry world. No matter who asks you, they’ll know you aren’t kidding around when you say your piece is made of sterling silver.
Wear your jewelry-loving heart on your sleeve by wearing sterling silver and others will know you appreciate the finer things in life.
- It Goes With Everything
Sterling silver doesn’t just look amazing, it looks amazing with just about anything.
That little black dress you like to pull out sometimes? Pair it with a sterling silver piece.
How about the cardigan your husband bought you last Christmas. Absolutely!
Not only does sterling silver go with just about any outfit, it also pairs well with other jewelry. No matter the gemstone or metal you pair it with, sterling silver will still look amazing.
- Unlimited Designs
Silver is an easy metal for jewelers to work with. That’s because it isn’t a hard metal. Because of this, the design possibilities are virtually endless.
Do you love earrings? How about bracelets?
Whether it’s a necklace, anklet, ring, or something else that you love, it can be made of sterling silver.
- You Can Easily Build a Collection
Thanks to the versatility of sterling silver, as well as it’s budget-friendliness, it’s easy for anyone to build up a collection.
If you’re looking to build yourself a collection that works for all occasions, you can do so in no time. Gradually make your selections of statement pieces and those for more every-day occasions, and you’ll always have a great group to choose from.
And, thanks to your ability to choose from such a wide selection, you’ll never have to wonder what jewelry to wear with a certain outfit.
- Health Benefits
Sterling silver isn’t just visually appealing. It’s good for your body, too.
It fights infections, prevents cold and flu, and can even help with wound healing. Silver is also associated with antibiotics and skin repair.
- Tarnish Isn’t the End
Silver can naturally tarnish over time, becoming black over time through oxidation. If you purchase jewelry that is only plated in silver, you run the risk of being left with a piece made of less-than-precious materials.
With sterling silver, however, you have more than one layer to work with. While you don’t want tarnishing to occur if it does you don’t have to rely on only the outer layer. You’ll be able to remove the tarnish and still have a beautiful piece of jewelry.
Sterling Silver Jewelry: The Best Choice
Overall, you just can’t go wrong with sterling silver jewelry. It’s stunning, versatile, and even benefits your health.
And, it isn’t expensive, either.
With so many gorgeous pieces to choose from, you’ll soon have a personal collection to rival that of celebrities. Only you’ll have paid a lot less for your pieces.
If you haven’t purchased sterling silver before, now’s the time to start. You’ll look great no matter what outfit you choose, or what style of sterling silver jewelry you decide to wear.
Not sure how to wear your sterling silver? Read our post on how to style and wear your jewelry like an expert.
By Beauty and Fashion Editor
Meditation Helps Preserve the Aging Brain.
Last week, a study from UCLA found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who’d been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain — although older meditators still had some volume loss compared to younger meditators, it wasn’t as pronounced as the non-meditators. "We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating," said study author Florian Kurth. "Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain."
Meditation Reduces Activity in the Brain’s “Me Center"
One of the most interesting studies in the last few years, carried out at Yale University, found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.” The DMN is “on” or active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular, when our minds are just wandering from thought to thought. Since mind-wandering is typically associated with being less happy, ruminating, and worrying about the past and future, it’s the goal for many people to dial it down. Several studies have shown that meditation, though its quieting effect on the DMN, appears to do just this. And even when the mind does start to wander, because of the new connections that form, meditators are better at snapping back out of it.
Its Effects Rival Antidepressants for Depression, Anxiety
A review study last year at Johns Hopkins looked at the relationship between mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain. Researcher Madhav Goyal and his team found that the effect size of meditation was moderate, at 0.3. If this sounds low, keep in mind that the effect size for antidepressants is also 0.3, which makes the effect of meditation sound pretty good. Meditation is, after all an active form of brain training. “A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing,” says Goyal. “But that’s not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programs approach this in different ways.” Meditation isn’t a magic bullet for depression, as no treatment is, but it’s one of the tools that may help manage symptoms.
Meditation May Lead to Volume Changes in Key Areas of the Brain
In 2011, Sara Lazar and her team at Harvard found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain: Eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing. There were also decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress – and these changes matched the participants’ self-reports of their stress levels, indicating that meditation not only changes the brain, but it changes our subjective perception and feelings as well. In fact, a follow-up study by Lazar’s team found that after meditation training, changes in brain areas linked to mood and arousal were also linked to improvements in how participants said they felt — i.e., their psychological well-being. So for anyone who says that activated blobs in the brain don’t necessarily mean anything, our subjective experience – improved mood and well-being – does indeed seem to be shifted through meditation as well.
Just a Few Days of Training Improves Concentration and Attention
Having problems concentrating isn’t just a kid thing – it affects millions of grown-ups as well, with an ADD diagnosis or not. Interestingly but not surprisingly, one of the central benefits of meditation is that it improves attention and concentration: One recent study found that just a couple of weeks of meditation training helped people’s focus and memory during the verbal reasoning section of the GRE. In fact, the increase in score was equivalent to 16 percentile points, which is nothing to sneeze at. Since the strong focus of attention (on an object, idea, or activity) is one of the central aims of meditation, it’s not so surprising that meditation should help people’s cognitive skills on the job, too – but it’s nice to have science confirm it. And everyone can use a little extra assistance on standardized tests.
Meditation Reduces Anxiety — and Social Anxiety
A lot of people start meditating for its benefits in stress reduction, and there’s lots of good evidence to support this rationale. There’s a whole newer sub-genre of meditation, mentioned earlier, called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness (now available all over the country), that aims to reduce a person’s stress level, physically and mentally. Studies have shown its benefits in reducing anxiety, even years after the initial 8-week course. Research has also shown that mindfulness meditation, in contrast to attending to the breath only, can reduce anxiety – and that these changes seem to be mediated through the brain regions associated with those self-referential (“me-centered”) thoughts. Mindfulness meditation has also been shown to help people with social anxiety disorder: a Stanford University team found that MBSR brought about changes in brain regions involved in attention, as well as relief from symptoms of social anxiety.
Meditation Can Help with Addiction
A growing number of studies has shown that, given its effects on the self-control regions of the brain, meditation can be very effective in helping people recover from various types of addiction. One study, for example, pitted mindfulness training against the American Lung Association's freedom from smoking (FFS) program, and found that people who learned mindfulness were many times more likely to have quit smoking by the end of the training, and at 17 weeks follow-up, than those in the conventional treatment. This may be because meditation helps people “decouple” the state of craving from the act of smoking, so the one doesn’t always have to lead to the other, but rather you fully experience and ride out the “wave” of craving, until it passes. Other research has found that mindfulness training, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) can be helpful in treating other forms of addiction.
Short Meditation Breaks Can Help Kids in School
For developing brains, meditation has as much as or perhaps even more promise than it has for adults. There’s been increasing interest from educators and researchers in bringing meditation and yoga to school kids, who are dealing with the usual stressors inside school, and oftentimes additional stress and trauma outside school. Some schools have starting implementing meditation into their daily schedules, and with good effect: One district in San Francisco started a twice daily meditation program in some of its high-risk schools – and saw suspensions decrease, and GPAs and attendance increase. Studies have confirmed the cognitive and emotional benefits of meditation for schoolchildren, but more work will probably need to be done before it gains more widespread acceptance.
Worth a Try?
Meditation is not a panacea, but there’s certainly a lot of evidence that it may do some good for those who practice it regularly. Everyone from Anderson Cooper and congressman Tim Ryan to companies like Google GOOGL -0.17% and Apple AAPL -1.11% and Target TGT -0.15% are integrating meditation into their schedules. And its benefits seem to be felt after a relatively short amount of practice. Some researchers have cautioned that meditation can lead to ill effects under certain circumstances (known as the “dark night” phenomenon), but for most people – especially if you have a good teacher – meditation is beneficial, rather than harmful. It’s certainly worth a shot: If you have a few minutes in the morning or evening (or both), rather than turning on your phone or going online, see what happens if you try quieting down your mind, or at least paying attention to your thoughts and letting them go without reacting to them. If the research is right, just a few minutes of meditation may make a big difference.
Malas are often used as decorations, jewelry, or during seated meditation. You may see malas adorning the wrists, necks, and altars of meditation devotees and at the top of mats of yoga practitioners. These beautiful necklaces often hold special significance for the bearer based on where they got it, why they chose the stones, and the energy resonance they feel with the beads.
Traditionally a mala—which means “garland”—has 108 beads strung together and one “guru bead,” which is larger than the rest. The guru bead is used as a place marker for the fingers to feel for the end or the beginning of the necklace for meditation or mantra chanting. Sometimes there are special or different shaped beads placed after every 27th bead to make it easier to keep track of the mantra. You’ll often also find bracelets and decorative necklaces with 54 or 27 beads, half and a quarter of the 108 respectively. Nowadays, malas are made out of a variety of materials including wood, seeds, stones, pearls, and crystals.
Benefits of Using Mala Beads
A common way to use the mala is to track a “japa,” or mantra meditation. The repetitive recitation of a single sound, such as “om,” a few words, such as “om mani padme hum,” or a longer mantra, such as the Gayatri Mantra, can be calming and transformative. Whether you’re chanting out loud, whispering, or repeating a phrase silently, tracing the beads of the mala with your fingers can help you keep track of the japa. “Japa” translates to “muttering” in Sanskrit.
Similar to praying with rosary beads, meditating with a japa mala has been shown to help slow respiration and encourage well-being. Repeating the mantra of your choosing redirects the mind from daily obsessions and introduces positive thought patterns. Similar devices have been used for generations in a variety of spiritual traditions including:
Meditation positively affects the brain and mood and practitioners report feeling relaxed, having better focused attention, and enhanced self-awareness. Consider the pose Malasana, commonly cued as “Yogi Squat.” The yogi squats and brings the hands to the heart, representing a single bead on the mala necklace, the yogi is small, individual, and unique. Just like each of the beads that are intimately connected to all the others through the string of the mala, the yogi is intimately connected to all other beings. This is the reminder of this pose: though individually we are special, together we are stronger.
Malas can be a significant part of your meditation practice. Here are some unique ways to use a mala:
Gift a Mala
Purchase (or make) a mala and give it to a loved one to commemorate a special occasion like:
- Completing a degree
- Finishing yoga teacher training
- “Just Because” special treat
Set your mala at the top of your yoga mat as an ode to your intentions as you practice yoga asana. You can also wear your mala necklace to honor whatever it means for you, like an:
Celebrate Creativity and Community
Make your own mala:
- Choose a special stone or color.
- Gather a group of friends and string the beads in community.
- Let the creative process be its own mindful experience.
- Bless your mala with an intention or wish.
Enhance Your Pranayama Practice
Bring more intention and concentration to your pranayama practice by using the beads as cues for breathing:
- Find a comfortable seat.
- Hold the mala in one hand and let it dangle easily.
- Touch the guru bead with your opposite hand.
- As you move your fingers to the next bead, breathe in and breathe out.
- Each bead gets its own inhale and exhale.
- Continue until you feel the guru bead again.
Practice Japa Mantra Meditation
Try practicing a japa mantra meditation, setting an intention and allowing the beads to be a grounding element as you follow them while reciting your words:
- Find a comfortable seat.
- Choose a mantra that speaks to you. Some examples to get you started: om, so hum, om shanti shanti shanti, om namoh guru dev namoh, I am enough, I love being me, I am in the right place at the right time.
- Hold the mala in one hand and let it dangle easily.
- Touch the guru bead with your opposite hand.
- As you move your fingers to the next bead, repeat your mantra out loud, as a whisper, or silently in your mind.
- Continue until you feel the guru bead again.
- By Lena Schmidt -