One of the what I term ‘spiritual items’ I’ve wanted for a while has been a mala, one of the traditional Buddhist/Hindu ones with 108 beads. I’m not entirely sure either when or why I first put it on my ‘things I’d like to own one day’ list, but it was probably some time during my undergrad years. Despite its presence on that particular List, it was one of those things I could never quite justify buying for myself, or even asking someone else to buy it for me as a birthday or Christmas present. However, over the years I seemed to have developed a small collection of different sorts of prayer beads, and having started yoga and looked into different methods of meditation I found that not only could I justify buying a mala, but I also had some birthday money left over. Huzzah!
Now the only question was – which one? During my internet browsing I’d seen some gorgeous ones, including an amethyst mala (one of my favourite stones) and a chakra one, as well as other materials such as sandalwood, lotus seeds, tulsi wood, etc. I knew from my rosary use that although I loved the look and feel of gemstone beads, I found the rosary as a whole to be too heavy overall and would make my hands ache after a few minutes, which ruled out all the malas made from stone. I also wanted smooth beads, which took Rudraksha and lotus seeds out of the equation, and from my six years of knitting experience knew I preferred the feel of wood in my hands for long use over metal or plastic needles, as my wooden ones were light, warmed to my hands, and with use aged to beautiful colours.
Out of all the wooden malas I’d seen rosewood was the material that I loved the look of, so with that choice made and a budget of £20 I went shopping, and eventually ordered my 108-bead rosewood mala from Yoga Bliss. Happily, according to that site, ‘Red Sandalwood (Rosewood) is used to call upon Lord Ganesh “the remover of obstacles” and the Divine Mother. Rosewood is warming, improves circulation and protects the user from negative energy’, which to my mind is not only a collection of useful properties, but also fits well with my aim to balance male and female energies in my religious practice. It also arrived beautifully packaged and just in time for Lent, where I resolved to take up the practice of using the mala every day, rather than giving anything up. I failed the ‘every day’ part after about two weeks, but it still gets used regularly, if not as frequently as I’d like.