Malas: trend or ancient treasure?
We live in a fast-paced society. Ever since the creation of the smart phone we won't tolerate a moment of stillness and quiet. Like an addict, we seek constant stimulation whether it be from tv, our phones, social media, you name it! In fact, you're probably reading this post on your smart phone to avoid idle waiting.... BUSTED!
This brings me to my next point. It is no secret that Eastern-inspired fashion is sweeping our runways. And how can you resist, right? It feels a little mystical and a little free-spirited and oh so on-trend! One of the most coveted of these Eastern items is the mala. You've seen them, a long necklace of 108 beads with a 109th bead and sometimes a little tassel at the end. So cute, right? But did you know that these cute little garlands have so much more meaning than meets the (third) eye?
Well, it turns out that thousands of years ago (about the 8th century B.C.E.), ancient seers of India understood the tendency for our minds to wander and they began to use beads to help during meditation. They were called japa malas. These beads started to spread to other cultures and now about 2/3 of the world's population use beads (i.e. rosary beads) for prayer or mediation.
In Sanskrit, mala means "garland" and japa means "repetition". In fact, this is where the word rosary got its name. When the Roman Empire was trading with India, they mistook the word japa for jap, the Latin word for “rose.” So when these prayer beads came to be used in Rome, they were called rosarium, or rosary in English.
"So why 108 beads?", you ask.
Going back to the ancient Vedic culture, mathematicians knew that 108 was the number of existence. In the yogic tradition, there are 108 Upanishads (sacred texts), 108 sacred sites throughout India, and 108 marma points, which are the sacred sites of the body. There were 108 gopis dancing with Krishna in Vrindavan. This number is so engrained in the Indian consciousness that 108 is the telephone number for emergencies, like 911 in the U.S. In the Jewish tradition, 108 is a multiple of 18, which is the number connected to the Hebrew word chai, meaning “life, or alive.” And in Islam, the number 108 refers to God.
Furthermore, there are 108 lines of energy that converge to form the heart chakra with one of those lines leading to the crown chakra and self-realization. And on a larger scale, the Sun’s diameter is 108 times that of the diameter of the Earth, while the Sun to Earth distance is 108 times the Sun’s diameter. So everywhere you turn, there’s 108!
So what does this all mean to you?
Well, it can mean anything you want it to! It can help you concentrate during meditation, be an ancient symbol of your personal spiritual or religious journey, or you can simply rock them (no pun intended) as a free-spirited trendy accessory! And don't ever let anyone tell you you're wearing it wrong. Have some fun and great creative with your look. You can wear them as a long garland around your neck, wrapped several times around your wrists, hanging backward down your back with an open-back top. AND, if you purchase the Wei Mei Mala here (use code BENDYLIFE20 for 20% off!!!!), you can even double wrap them around your neck. These GORGEOUS malas have a little elasticity in the string so that the possibilities are as big as the universe -can I getta communal "OMMMMMMM"? And one more thing, because half of my heritage is from Spain, it's impossible for me not to point out that in Spanish the word "mala" means "bad" and I have to admit these beads so make me feel a little bad-ass when I slip them on!
Namaste, Bendy Babes!