Mala Shop

Friday, June 25, 2010


Children...they become completely absorbed in whatever experience they have. At what age does that change?

This photo of my niece in my parent's yard shows that absorption to me. She still is one of the most joyful people I know, a few years after this photo was taken.

I've been thinking of that old saying:

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, now is a gift—
that's why they call it the present."

The first person who I ever heard say a version of that was a wonderful yoga teacher. As we bent to touch the floor, legs spread wide while we imagined touching the tops of our heads to the floorboards, he would laughingly talk to us about non-striving. "Today is a gift—that's why they call it the present.

It made me smile and relax every time.

I'm in search of the perfect yoga class. It must be warm but not too hot, energetic without the external athleticism of gym yoga, and taught by someone who encourages but doesn't push!

I may find the best studio is here at home. We'll see.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Buddhaful Treasury of Meditative Art and Craft

Aren't the colors in this Etsy meditation treasury by meredithdada beautiful? She really has a way with color—check out her shop to see. My carnelian and moss agate mala is included.

Happiness to you, enjoy your day.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

And Then You Get to Take Photos!

Red Aventurine Half Mala with Tibetan Agate and Turquoise Markers

As bad and difficult as things were yesterday, today was equally light and airy and wonderful. Go figure. Just pure joy all day. I got out the camera late in the afternoon and was surprised by the connection between this red aventurine and a nasturtium flower from my garden. They were made for each other!

Every single color in this photo is from nature, except the tassel. Can you believe that nature can produce such vivid tones? Turquoise is one of my favorite stones, and these are really "roots" beads. Blue-green with small brown veins, they are exactly the color of turquoise I like best. Okay, the robin's egg blue turquoise from the Sleeping Beauty mine isn't bad either, but it's totally out of my price range.

Half malas generally have 54 beads. They're useful when you don't want to carry a full mala. They fit nicely into a deep pocket. Not really for wearing, they convey all the meaning of a full mala and work just as well for "collecting" prayers and mantras.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Why? Creativity, Practice, and Grief

Photo taken at Green Valley Falls, San Diego County.

When a person you love first dies you are full of adrenaline, half way between normal life and death. Then later, you begin to just feel that they are missing, and that the amount of time you spent with them before is filled now by all your own activities—not by anything dealing with them.

I practiced for Mom intensely during the 49 days after her death on March 5th, and I felt I was done. Now I am just practicing to get Ngondro done, which really aggravates me. I want to keep remembering all the people who need prayers.

I’m also realizing how much I was driven to create my mala business last year and the year before by Mom’s illness. Every mala I made came with the additional prayers I said daily for her. All the prayers I say daily go into the malas I make, not just the ones said while I make them, which is when I’m focusing on getting them arranged right. Now that she’s gone, I feel lax, listless, and sort of dull about making. It’s not urgent anymore. Making them was a practice for me.

I even made malas by Mom's bedside in September and August when she was very sick.
She was part of why I made malas. Now how do I reconnect with my creativity? Such sorrow, such loss. Sometimes you feel like a boulder is resting on top of you.
Why do we practice? Why accumulate mantra? Why work on approaching a deity through visualization and mantra practice? To me the answer is because they are the face of the divine. They are part of the universal, loving ground of everything that is. Because if we sit and open slowly in mantra practice, even if sometimes it’s boring, even if it's about as much fun sometimes as having a wood-grating tool scraped against our teeth, it brings us closer. Tibetan tradition says that to repeat a mantra over and over again, 10,000 or 100,000 times or more, develops us by calming and relieving our negative karma. We strip away layers of unnecessary habit and “stuff”, bringing us closer and closer to our true nature. By combining this type of practice with meditation (alternately), we can learn to rest in the nature of our own mind. The nature of our mind is not separate from the nature of the Buddhas’ minds. It is open and clear, vibrant and loving. There is nothing more powerful or beautiful. (The Tibetan Buddhist preliminary practices are called Ngondro. That's what I'm "working on" daily in my meditations. It's not easy, but it's wonderful.)

To come closer to this true nature is why we practice, because in difficult situations, there’s nothing that can help us more than being in touch with the Buddhas and our divine nature. And at the moment of death, it is what will guide us safely through the bardos, or states between our death and our next birth.

It feels nearly impossible to make mantra practice a priority at times in this culture, where emphasis isn't usually put on long-term spiritual practice. Still, for those of us trying to do it, it is a worthwhile activity. The rewards come slowly and aren’t even to be expected. We just do it.

So that’s the answer to why to accumulate mantras. I don’t have an answer to why to make malas. The only thing I know is that I use one every time I meditate. I just want to keep making them for others to use during their sacred moments. That's my primary motivation.

Getting to play with semi-precious stones, nice woods, and special seeds is just a side benefit of the work.