If you’ve taken a live or virtual workshop with me, you’ve heard this story. If you take a live or virtual workshop with me in the future, you’ll hear this story again.
I was never much into yoga. I always believed you had to work up a sweat to have it count as a workout, get your heart rate way up...I kind of still do, to be honest, but I do not judge, in any way, someone else’s practice. If you move your body, that is positive movement, and that is a good thing. Anyway, when we moved to Denver, I was doing jewelry full time but had left my family and friends behind and had lots of free time. I decided to try yoga. I thought “hot” yoga would be something that might work for me and tried one of the hip studios in downtown Denver. Needless to say I was hooked. I instantly feel in love and have never, ever looked back. Hot yoga is now my primary form of yoga practice. I later found Bikram Yoga (and yes, I know what a douchebag he is), but this is all a story for another day. Long story short, I called this new, amazing yoga practice I found, “Boujee Yoga.” It was super pricey. Everyone wore basically no clothes, but the clothes they did wear were astronomically expensive. The yoga mats were all brand name. We all walked in dry and walked out like we had jumped in a pool fully clothed, buzzing with some kind of electric energy of amazingness that I can only now attribute to some cocktail of burned brain cells and dehydration...and I freaking loved every single second of all of it. I bought in. I drank all the Kool-Aid. What I also saw were that these men and women had these beads wrapped around their wrists. They were all these amazing colors and had tassels and beads on them and made this really luscious sound when they clanked together when they went through the flow. I had to have these beads!
A few weeks later, Tim (my boyfriend, now husband) and I were at an outdoor market and I spotted them at someone’s tent. I honed in on them from at least 20 feet away. I can still see them in my mind’s eye. (As an aside, I haven’t made them yet, after all this time. I wonder why not. I think I might meditate on that). I walked right over to them, picked them up, and was going to buy them, they were mine, even though the amulet on them was enormous and I was never, ever going to be able to use them in yoga, I was going to buy them...I am so totally compulsive, but then I looked at the price tag. They were upwards of $180! For a string of beads?!?! I was flabbergasted! I put them back on the mannequin, finished our shopping and perusing and coffee drinking and headed for Michael’s. I could make those beads. Remember, I still had no idea what they were called. I now know that what I bought was India Agate, but I bought some beads that I was drawn to, I grabbed some leather, and I ordered a Buddha charm on Etsy. I fumbled with those beads for days. I tied some knots where I thought looked cool. And what resulted were a circular string of beads that I still wrap around my left wrist every single day.
I was so happy to have those beads the next time I showed up at yoga, to be part of the cool kid crowd. As time wore on I learned more about them and what they were and that they were called Mala. Over time, yoga became less about the yoga mat and what I was wearing and a lot more about how it made me feel. I still left that class feeling like I was on top of the world. I buzzed with positive energy every time I walked into the Denver sunshine and I held onto that energy almost until the next time I walked back into that yoga studio. I had this feeling that those precious little Mala beads could help hold onto that energy. Mala became a little battery for my positive energy. When I did something positive, that made me feel powerful or happy or proud I would wear my beads to charge them up, to fill them with all the positivity they could hold. When I needed to draw on that energy, when I had a particularly scary doctor’s appointment or a stressful meeting or a bad day, I would wear my beads and take from them what I had put into them. This is how I used Mala for years. It wasn’t until very recently that I used Mala for what it was originally intended for, a tool to keep track of mantras during meditation.
Whether Mala is used for a beautiful piece of jewelry, a way to store positive energy or a tool to mediate with, Mala is a powerful gift to yourself or a loved one. My Mala, made so many years ago, in my little office in Denver, with clumsy thumbs and a strand of leather is frayed and weathered. The charm has been rubbed clean beyond recognition. I’ll cry the day it breaks, but will be happy to know that those beads have served a beautiful purpose. A purpose that has given me a beautiful gift of learning the beautiful, rich and seemingly endless history of Mala and the beauty of Buddhism. Lessons of life and karma that I would never have known. Knowledge that I am now able to share with countless others. I am truly grateful.