Each piece is unique and comes into being in its own time. I learned this early on, but not as early on as I learned how to create a sacred connection between seemingly separate beads.
The process of hand-knotting is one that I learned at a local bead store and fell in love with. When I signed up for the class, I was following through on a curiosity that had been stirring for years. I knew going in that even though it was not a ‘mala making’ class, that I was going to create a mala for myself. We did not learn how to complete a knotted necklace without a clasp (I would later learn that on my own), so my first mala has a clasp but that’s just fine with me. It signifies the beginning of my journey.
The process and practice of hand-knotting has taught me a lot about myself – it has been a physical representation of my drive for perfection, and it has been the place where I have been able to find a little space away from the strangle-hold perfection can have on me.
A few weeks after taking the class I walked into the shop and said to my teacher, “The string broke again.”
“You’re pulling too hard,” she told me. “Don’t you teach people to breathe?” she asked.
“Yes…” I said, wondering where she was going.
“You need to give the beads space to breathe!”
And in that moment, so much shifted.
Of course, everything is connected. The beads need space to breathe just as we do, just as this practice of mantra meditation allows us to find for ourselves. So I let go of that striving for perfection, I gave the beads a little space to breathe, and in doing so, I found my flow.
Each bead comes from the earth, and holds a connection to a wisdom and energy that many of us have lost. I honor the fact that in many ways (perhaps in all the ways that matter) we are one with the beads. We are from the same source and so when the beads gather again and find their way to their person, it is a reunion of energy.
When I receive the beads I take each one in my hand, and as I check it for quality, I also feel the energy it holds. I am still amazed by the energy I feel in the beads, both individually and once they all come together in a mala, because they feel so different from one another. The energy is palpable.
Once I have sorted out the beads that have inclusions, holes that are too big or too small, or some other characteristic that makes them unsuitable for the malas, I begin the design process. The beads that I can’t use go into a jar that I give to my daughter so she can create and learn to create beauty from imperfection.
Most of the designs have come from finding myself in a moment of flow. As I look at my inventory, sometimes certain stones will call out to me and I will begin to play. How does this look? What feeling does it hold? What if I change this? Soon, the design comes together, and once I have the stones chosen, I can choose the color of the silk cord and a guru bead (these are two of the most challenging parts of the process!).
Other times, through conversations with my community or simply sensing the world around me, there is a certain energy that I notice people are seeking. When I first created the Sacred Calm mala, it sold within ten minutes of me sharing it. This process has allowed me the opportunity to continue to deepen my knowledge about the stones and their meaning, and has also helped strengthen my intuition about which stones will work well together to create supportive energy for the mala.
Designing the Malas
Creating the Malas
Once the beads, guru bead, and silk cord are chosen, I begin the process of hand-knotting the mala. This is the most meditative part of the process for me and it allows me to remember how each part that makes the whole plays a significant role and that without any of those beads, the piece would not be the same.
This became especially apparent when I was creating a mala for my mama. I was using Botswana agate and after I had strung the beads, I noticed that one of the beads looked like an owl. I posted this on social media and had someone immediately interested. I could have taken the bead off and created another mala with it but I knew that this owl bead was meant for my mama, for the person who I knew this mala was being created for.
There are malas in my inventory that I have had for a long time before they sell, and some that sell quickly. This never bothers me because I have a deep trust that each piece is created when it is meant to be and with a person in mind, whether I know them or not.
Each knot connects the beads until at last the 108 beads have become one entity, pooling their energy together. Once I complete the knotting process and add a touch of glue, I infuse each mala with reiki. This essentially means that I infuse the mala with energy that is set to serve the highest good of the person with whom the mala will find its home.
From there, it’s up to each person to find their way to their mala, in the time that is right for them, guided by their intuition or the circumstances that bring them together.