Oops! Mistakes as Opportunities for Practice October 20, 2020 15:45

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I've been working on a mala design for a friend who will be opening a new studio in January. It is a Tiger Eye mala with alternating 8 and 6mm beads.

When I finished stringing the 108th bead and brought the two ends together to attach the guru, I noticed that something was off...WAY off. The beads weren't lining up correctly, and with different bead sizes, this is particularly critical.

I tried tugging the mala on one side to even out the difference, but no luck. When I counted the beads again, I realized my mistake. I had miscalculated the midpoint of the design, so the balance of the entire design was off kilter. If I had attached the guru and tassel, the beads wouldn't have lined up properly, and the whole design would have been a little wonky. Five hours of steady work and time wasted....or, maybe not.

I resigned myself to starting over with this mala. As I was snipping each knot between every bead this morning, I realized that mistakes offer valuable insights, blessings, and opportunities.

*Opportunity to Revise:

To revise means "to see again." When I taught creative writing at a local high school years ago, I encouraged my students to revise their poems and stories. The first draft is rarely the best draft--it is merely a starting point--a beginning to something even better.

This is true for other endeavors, too, even designing malas.

I have a work tray that I use to layout potential designs, but this tray isn't foolproof. Errors can still occur--as they did with this Tiger Eye mala. However, it also gave me an opportunity to reconsider the original arrangement of the beads, and the possibility to substitute a few different beads to add more visual interest to the design.

This mistake actually gave me the opportunity to improve this mala for my friend, to make it even better than the initial design.


*Opportunity to Practice:

It's not unusual for me to practice mantra recitations while I'm stringing a mala, especially when I know in advance who it will belong to.

Often, when I'm working on a custom mala design, I will recite a mantra while I'm working and offer the merits of the practice to the recipient of the mala.

Restringing this design will give me even more time to devote to my own practice, and it will allow me to dedicate even more benefits to my friend and to the success of her new business. 

By reframing this mistake, it allows me to see it as a blessing rather than an inconvenience or burden. It also gives me something to look forward to, and it adds purpose to the work and time required to complete this design.


*Opportunity to Generate Kindness

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to making mistakes. I can be extremely self-critical and unnecessarily harsh with myself.

I can be kind, forgiving, and compassionate with others when they make mistakes, but quite brutal with myself, even with minor errors.

My inner critic can be quick to lash out over the smallest mistakes: misspelling a word in a Facebook post or comment, forgetting something (phone, wallet, etc) when I leave the house, screwing up a dinner recipe, or remembering something ridiculously minor or stupid that I said or did many years ago.

Practicing self-kindness is just as important as practicing kindness toward others. Making mistakes give me an opportunity to demonstrate LESS judgment and criticism and MORE tenderness, gentleness, and compassion toward myself. 

I've carved out some time later this afternoon to work on this new-and-improved mala for my friend. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to revise and improve, to dedicate time and effort to the future success of her biz, and to direct much-needed kindness, patience, and compassion toward myself as I restring her mala.

Thanks for reading or listening! If you haven't checked out the MMM online collection in a while, click here. Several new designs have been added recently. Do something nice for yourself or a loved one, and support a small Hoosier business, too.   


(Here is the revised mala design. I wound up changing the sutra and tassel color--from navy blue to honey flax)