Tradition and Meditation Practice October 18, 2015 12:37
Tradition has its place in society. It creates comfort and stability. It offers a solid connection to the past and honors those who have come before us. Tradition represents the deep roots in the tree of life that can literally and metaphorically ground us.
For thousands of years, malas have been made of traditional materials such as sandalwood, tulsi, and rudraksha seeds. These were the materials available to the sages, rishis, and meditators in ancient India and Tibet.
What about meditators today? Is it appropriate to chant and recite mantras with malas made of gemstones and crystals instead of the traditional materials of the past? Well, it depends.
As in any yoga practice, a meditator's practice begins with an intention. The intention is like an electrical current running through and energizing the practice, and the mala is like the light bulb. The intention may be specific or general--it may be personal or universal. Whatever the intention, it must resonate in an authentic way with the practitioner or meditator. Through sincerity and dedication, a mantra or meditation practice with a mala requires clarity and connection.
If traditional beads made of wood, yak bone, or seeds resonate with the meditator, adding an element of authenticity to the practice and strengthening the intention, then, by all means, using malas made of traditional materials would be appropriate.
However, meditators bring meaning and significance to the mala--not the other way around. Each bead is energized with the intention, the dedication, and the presence of the meditator . The meaning doesn't reside in the beads, themselves. The practice brings meaning to the beads, regardless if they are made of rudraksha seeds, rose quartz, acorns, or miniature marshmallows.
Finding a mala that resonates with the meditator is an important aspect of the practice. However, attaching too much significance to the tradition and history of the beads or the meaning behind the gemstones is just another way for the ego to creep in and disrupt the practice.
Is it OK to use a mala made of tulsi, wood, or yak bone beads? Yes--of course.
Is it OK to use a mala made with gemstones, crystals, metal, and glass? Yes-- of course.
Is it OK to use a mala made of miniature marshmallows and acorns? Yes--of course.
Any mala that resonates with the meditator, that aligns with the intentions of the meditator, and that motivates the meditator to continue the practice is appropriate.
The mala that you use in your practice should resonate with you and your intentions. There is no "right" or "wrong." It is YOUR practice--it is YOUR energetic offering. The mala is simply the vehicle for the light to shine, not the light itself. As with any energetic practice, it's important not to confuse the current with the bulb.