meditation

A Welcome Surprise Creating My Own Mala Beads

What a treat I gave myself yesterday by taking a Mala Intensive class at JSM BeadCoop with teacher Mary Jo Zagozen. My mom also joined me which was such a special way to spend time together.

What I really appreciated about this class, besides making our own personal mala’s, was all the information given to us during the class and in the handouts that I devoured with eagerness last night.

I’m really beginning to grasp that there are so many ways in which one can practice being mindful. I’ve certainly discovered that in my yoga practice, forms of meditation I do, creating SoulCollage cards, and working with oracle cards, which are part of my rituals.

What I didn’t expect yesterday was how meditative it would be in actually creating my mala beads. From choosing our beads, of which I chose honeycomb agate as I was drawn to the softness of the color which I paired with sandalwood beads which are about compassion and courage, and are traditionally used in making mala’s.

In the traditional mala, 108 beads are used, of which there are many fascinating reasons why. Just to share a few here that I learned and found interesting:

  • There are said to be 108 earthly desires in humans.
  • Some say humans have 108 feelings; 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future.
  • The chakra centers are where energy lines intersect, and there are said to be 108 energy lines which meet to form the heart chakra. One of them, sushumna leads to the crown chakra, which is the path to self-realization and enlightenment.
  • The number 1 represents God or higher Truth, 0 represents emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and 8 represents infinity or eternity.

There are oodles of other reasons that I could share here as I was in awe of all the connections with 108! But back to my discovery of it being meditative in actually making my mala.

Placing a knot after each bead, at first, I thought would “take too long.” My desire to get my mala made so I could get using it, was first and foremost on my mind. But as I began to make the knots and place bead by bead on the string, I was moved to a peaceful place within. It was so relaxing! I truly didn’t expect this to happen because oftentimes when creating I’m too busy looking ahead to the finished result.

What a welcome respite of knotting and connecting with each bead as I put together my mala. Just writing about this I feel myself transported to the calmness of the experience again.

And another leap for me when I used my mala beads in meditation this morning. I’ve never been able to mediate in silence. I either have earbuds in listening to something on the Insight Timer app or I pick a soothing station on Pandora to listen to while I sit.

But today I took my mala beads in hand with no music. With my mantra I gave thought to this morning which is something I am working on for myself, then closing my eyes, and bead by bead I ran my middle finger and thumb across each bead pulling my mala beads toward me, repeating silently to myself my intention.

When I was at the end where the “guru” bead sits, a wave of gratitude washed over me as that bead is not to be gone over, but rather used to take a moment to thank our teachers and/or higher spirit.

Now I’m looking forward to making more mala beads for myself – not only for the beauty of them, but really for the fact that I was pleasantly surprised by the double meditative process of it – once in creating and then in using them.

And one last thing, besides getting yourself to a Mala bead class if this calls to you, which I have a feeling JSM BeadCoop will offer again as it was a big hit, is a great book about how mala beads helped change one authors life, check out The Magic Mala by Bob Olson.

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Allow Nature to Seep Deep into Your Bones and Fill You with Peace

Allow Nature to Seep Deep into Your Bones and Fill You with Peace
The peaceful pond at LaValley Nature & Equine Sanctuary

Living in Wisconsin where winters can be sooooo long, I come alive in a new way once warmer weather is here. And I do my best to soak in as much as a I can while it lasts.

And why I’m looking forward to facilitating a workshop in nature with my friend and co-facilitator, Rachel Nick next week Saturday. I’m especially excited about this one as it will be happening at the wonderful non-profit Rachel is founder of, LaValley Nature and Equine Sanctuary.

I really appreciate the sanctuary’s mission: to preserve land for plant, wildlife, equine and permaculture use while inspiring others to do the same. We offer a permanent, safe and natural environment for aged horses to retire and live out the rest of their days peacefully.

In May after doing a private yoga session with Rachel at her sanctuary (yes, she also teaches Yoga!) she invited me to walk the 20 plus acres of her property. Rachel and her partner, Jeremy keep paths mowed along the property which take you to a quaint pond, past many beautiful trees, butterflies, birds and whatever else nature just may surprise you with as you walk the peaceful and serene land. Eventually you wind around the fences with the perfect view of the horses that eventually wind back to the front of the picturesque sanctuary.

During this relaxing workshop, you will be invited to play with creativity and make your own unique walking stick with sticks chosen especially for you from Rachel’s property. We will then take you on a guided visualization to begin the process of connecting you with your heart and then gently guide you into your walking meditation in nature.  Our intention is to help you connect heart-to-hand-to walking stick, to mindfully placing your feet upon the earth and connecting with all of natures healing energies to renew your spirit.

Your guides:  Barbara & Rachel with Dancer and Hank in the background

In our world that has us believing that rushing and getting ahead is what matters, Rachel and I are passionate about helping you to slow down, open to the beauty around you and really see and feel the exquisite influence of nature, allowing it to seep deep into your bones, and fill you with a peace that will have your spirit rejoicing.

We hope you can join us!  Click here for more details and to register today. We look forward to seeing you!

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Practicing Silence in a Noisy World

Practicing Silence in a Noisy World

I’m being tested.

Earlier this week I listened to an online class that I signed up for to help me deepen my skills as a SoulCollage® facilitator.

This role is so different from when I did presentations for kids with my dachshund, Frankie. Kids are so open for the most part, and haven’t yet been conditioned into how they should think. While I saw myself doing workshops for women someday even when doing my work with Frankie, I didn’t know at the time exactly how that would play out.

It’s a whole new experience for me even though I’ve done quite a few workshops now. But I continue to learn, and most of all I continue to wish to be the very best I can be as a facilitator so that I’m providing a safe container for which others can explore their creative consciousness.

Listening to the instructor, Selene, a psycotherapist and fellow SoulCollage® facilitator, she talked about how everyone is different when it comes to tapping into their creative consciousness.  While some need silence, some need to be chattering to distract their cognitive mind.

She went on to say that this then becomes a practice for those who wish to be in silence because the fact is there is always noise in our world. I’d never really thought of that before, but it made sense. To be in silence within when there is noise around you and not let it distract or bother you is certainly a practice.

I’ve really been thinking about that and of course, as it usually goes when one begins to give something deep thought, it seems you are presented with situations to put this into practice.

This morning as I moved through my yoga routine, listening to a soothing, instrumental, meditative station on Pandora. all of a sudden I was yanked out of my calm and serene space when a commercial interrupted – and it was so jarring. I silently cursed Pandora for not having sent me an email letting me know my subscription had run out so I could have perhaps prevented this intrusion from happening (a subscription means you avoid the commercials).

But then I remembered what Selene said and I realized I was being called to practice being in silence among the blaring commercial ads as if they weren’t there – a conscious shift to not be annoyed or let that shake me from my calm and quiet foundation.

And then I was tested again. After returning from an errand, I came home to find a crew of landscapers working in the neighbor’s yard. They are still here. And with them they brought loud machinery. I began to feel my insides tense up and feelings of being annoyed begin to surface again, along with feeling like my personal space was being invaded as they are right outside my writing cottage.

And then I remembered again….to go within to that silent place of my own even with all the workers and noise right outside my window. This is going to take practice I must say. But I’ll bet that if one can truly do this then that is, ah, yes, the ultimate peace. I’m working on it!

Namaste.

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