I came home to Toronto in 2003 with a collection of Malas I had handcrafted in the Himalayas of Northern India. Friends suggested that some of the spiritual boutiques might like to make my creations available to the town's enlightened beings. With their Heart of All Hearts Malas in hand, these souls could sing Mantra and meditate with love and devotion.
The vision was entrancing, and the intention pure… and I met with bewildered faces and blank stares in every instance: not a one had even heard the word ‘Mala’, let alone seen or held one.
A mere 15 years later, Malas are a cherished accessory of Yogis everywhere, worn by almost every one who has attempted even a single Soorya Namaskaar, or uttered a solitary Om... or who just liked the look of them. In that brief timespan, Malas have become a cachet of spirituality, at the same time assuming an air of eclectic, eye-catching jewellery. Millennial Malas are often fashioned with such fantastical whimsy that you've just got to love the creative intelligence!
More than 36 years of tying Malas has unearthed a motherlode of discoveries and findings that I constantly call upon. A vision of Oneness, and an awareness of the indescribable blessings a Mala can bring, are the inspirations for sharing them with you. And just perhaps some of your questions and considerations can be happily addressed.
Is your Mala to be made in Amber? Or Amethyst? Or Amazonite? Or maybe a blend of all three? So many styles and shapes and sizes and colours and combinations are on offer... you can easily spend days ~ a lifetime even ~ searching shops and sites for the perfect Mala, and end up overwhelmed by the infinite proliferation of offerings.
Will it have extras added in, such as counter beads or bling? How will it look when you step out and celebrate?
What about the Sumeru, the Guru setting?
Before you set forth on your merry way, be centred in this absolute truth: your perfect Mala is your perfect Mala. This means that it will serve you, whether as a Meditation Mala or a Celebration Mala. Or both. The Mala maker is a facilitator, someone who implements your Mala in such a way that it becomes a constant companion, a faithful friend, as you sing through life.
Most often, choosing a Mala is a “love at first sight” affair that turns out to be a lasting choice. This is a vision that transcends thought and imagination and ideas, and I encourage you to trust it. Implicitly. And afterwards, to entertain all your ideas and imaginings. Because, after all, there’s nothing more fun in life than playdates! And nothing more fascinating than playing with colourful beads and baubles!
The two essential aspects in your Mala are the stones or beads, and the Sumeru or Guru setting. Sumeru in English is 'exalted': Guru is ‘dispeller of darkness’. Darkness is nothing but the sense of forgetfulness or otherness. When Light of Oneness shines, all is Light. Guru is pure Light, Oneness alone. The whole of creation ~ including you, including your Mala... from the setting through the stones, to thread, to tying, to touch, to singing, to meditating… and to celebrating ~ is Oneness alone, Guru alone. Hold this in your heart, and begin creating your perfect Mala.
Explore the facets and affinities of some gemstones or forest findings that may have inspired first sight love. If you have an affinity with several stones, rather than combining them all into one erratic collaboration, why not style a second, a third, or infinite creations? Simple living, higher thinking.
Consider colour, contour, texture, and the feel of the stones as you hold them in your hands, and as they flow from your fingers. Ideally, you could find a quiet corner, close your eyes, and 'see' the stones resonate in meditation. Watch as they awaken your life force and open your Sahasrar or door of bliss.
Next step is to affirm the size in that gemstone or bead that allows you to meditate with ease and equanimity and focus. Ideally, a Mala is made of one, or at most two, gemstones or beads of the same size and emanation. If you are struggling with discrepancies in affinities, size, shape, texture, or dangling add-ons (Bling on the String, as I love to call it!), your mind will rush to the rescue and keep you pinned to the wheel of thought-and-action, mind-and-body, birth-and-death, which is mind’s domain... and which kind of counteracts the reason for meditating.
Let’s return to the Guru setting. A whole wide world of possibility awaits: it can be anything from a simple piece in silver or brass or copper, to a shining crystal, a handcrafted terracotta bead, or even an antique keepsake that has been handed down through generations in your family. And then, there is an abundance of spiritual symbols, one of which may have a special significance for you. Two of my own Malas have a heart as the Guru setting, another has a handcrafted turquoise Ganesh, yet another a silver Ganesh with Ghunghroo ~ a merry dancer, that one! The remaining two are eclectic: no special significance, just fun and fanciful.
Once you have chosen your stones and setting, the next step is experimenting with tying options. Your Mala should offer a steadfast, unbroken rhythm to Mantra repetition. Each repetition is whole, complete, perfect in itself. So too is the following one, and every one thereafter. A string of stones or beads without space in between each offers little hope or scope for focused and clear Mantra recitation. If you'd like your Mala to have a more celebratory look, the knots can be replaced by tiny separator beads. But Malas without either knots or separator beads are the hallmark of a lackadaisical Mala maker.
Perhaps the most important aspect of all is that your Mala is tied with Mantra, either one of your choosing, or one that sings itself as you string. Every Heart of All Hearts Malas comes charged and infused with the profound influence of Mantra ~ to initiate your meditation practice, or to bless your ascension, or simply to celebrate life eternal.
With a gentle reminder that you are forever free, and that meditation is the way of keeping this vision awakened, I’ll tie off with blessings of immortality and bliss.
Amaram Hum Madhuram Hum.
Urvashee Saakshee ties Malas. And sings Mantras. And meditates.
She'd love you to get in touch, and together take a look at your enquiries on finding or creating the perfect Mala, or Mantra, or meditation... in fact, on anything but politics. Or religion. Or the weather. Find her at email@example.com.