What are Mala Beads?

what are mala beads

Mala beads, prayer beads, rosary beads – Isn’t it interesting that many religions and cultures use some form of counting beads? Repetition is a powerful tool in meditation or prayer. By using the beads, we don’t need to preoccupy our mind with counting. Being able to lose yourself in your chant or prayer is a beautiful experience.

More About Malas

The word mala means garland, and typically refers to 108 beads strung together and one “Guru bead,” which is larger than the rest.  Although malas are most commonly made of 108 beads (especially in Tibetan Buddhism), you can also find them with 18, 27, or 54 beads – notice those are all multiples of 9!  On a 108 bead mala, there can be differently shaped or sized beads after every 27th bead to make it easier to keep track.

Why are there 108 beads?  There are 108 chapters of the Rig Veda, 108 Upanishads and 108 primary Tantras.  And these texts are written in Sanskrit, a language comprising 54 letters, each with a masculine (Shiva) and feminine (Shakti) form, 54 x 2 = 108.  In Ayurveda, there are 108 sacred places, or marmas, in the body.  The diameter of the sun is approximately 108 times that of earth and the distance from our planet to its solar star is, on average, 108 times the diameter of the sun.

The Guru bead is a larger bead in addition to the 108 beads of a traditional mala that is used to keep track of when you have completed your 108 repetitions.  When you reach the end, if you would like to repeat, you reverse direction.  You are not meant to cross the Guru bead, as it represents the Absolute or Supreme Consciousness.

How Do You Use Mala Beads?

Being able to lose yourself in your chant or prayer is a beautiful experience.  By using the beads, we don’t need to preoccupy our mind with counting.  

Here’s a step-by-step on a suggested way to work with your mala:

  1. Find a comfortable spot to sit, ideally somewhere you can focus and won’t be disturbed.
  2. Select an intention, affirmation, mantra, or word.  You can repeat or chant it aloud, or in your head.
  3. Hold your mala in your right hand, draped between your middle and index fingers.  Starting at the guru bead, use your thumb to count each smaller bead, pulling it toward you as you recite your mantra.  Do this 108 times, the length of a standard mala, until you return to the guru bead.
  4. If you would like to continue, reverse direction (without passing over the guru bead) and begin again.

You can also use your mala to enhance your pranayama (breathwork) practice by inhaling and exhaling for each bead.

Mala Materials

The beads of a mala can be a variety of materials. They are commonly wooden beads, some contain semiprecious stones. Rudraksha beads (shown in the mala pictured at the beginning of this article) are rich in symbology, so I’d like to go more into detail here.  The Sanskrit name “Rudraksha” is comprised of the words Rudra (another name for Lord Shiva) and akṣha (“eyes”). Also know as “the eyes of Lord Shiva”.  The Rudraksha bead is said to originally come from  Shiva’s tears.   According to mythology, Lord Shiva spent 1000 years in meditation for the benefit of all beings, and upon opening his eyes, tear drops rolled down from his eyes and landed upon the earth taking birth as the sacred Rudraksha tree.

Rudraksha beads have been worn and used for meditation, japa mantra, and pujas/fire ceremonies for many centuries. Asian Yogis and Monks found that merely wearing the Rudraksha beads gave them astonishingly tremendous amount of tranquility, concentration that helped them meditate for a long period of time with spectacular control over their mind. Buddha wore Rudraksha beads, along with the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, and many enlightened Indian yogis.  Ancient Hindu scriptures first noted the divine qualities of this bead, and these qualities have been proclaimed down through the ages. They bless one with peace of mind; protects against evil doers and spirits; protects the wearer against an early or untimely accidental death; if wearing the bead upon dying one would be released from the karmic cycle of birth and death: blesses one with nirvana, moksha, peace and prosperity. 

To knot or not?  You have the option to place a simple overhand knot between each bead if that feels right.  It adds to the stability of the mala, and if disaster strikes, your beads won’t end up scattered everywhere.  You can also have the beads loose on the string.  It’s truly your preference.

Mantra Ideas

You can use your favorite mantra or affirmation when you work with your mala. It can be as simple as OM/AUM, or you can have a much longer phrase. Here are some mantras I use, or that my students suggested. Feel free to comment your favorite!

  • Om shanti shanti shanti – peace, peace, peace
  • Lokah Samastah Suhkino Bavantu – may all beings be happy and free and may my actions contribute in some way
  • Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha – invoking Lord Ganesha, remover of obstacles
  • All is well
  • I’m in the world to love the world

For My Visual / Video Folks 🙂

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Do Singing Bowls Help Anxiety?

Have you felt the vibrations of a singing bowl in person? Felt the sound waves move through your body and spirit? It’s a sensation that’s difficult to describe, but if you’ve felt it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Everything in your body is simultaneously still and buzzing with energy.

But do they actually have healing properties?

With the number of people who ask me about the healing properties of singing bowls, I wanted to have an answer other than the anecdotal evidence I’ve personally felt. I’ve experienced singing bowls helping with anxiety and tension, but I want to give you more than just my feelings. Luckily, some folks with significantly more schooling than me wrote a paper: Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood, Tension, and Well-being: An Observational Study. Woo hoo! The data nerd in me was so happy to find a study with actual numbers to corroborate what I’ve felt and know to be true.

They got a group of people together, and had a singing bowl meditation! (side note, where do I sign up for the next study??). Participants completed short questionnaires before and after the hour long meditation. They got comfortable on a yoga mat to listen to a combination of Tibetan singing bowls, crystal singing bowls, and gongs.

So what were the results? There was a “significant” difference in how people reported they felt pre- and post-meditation. Self-reported tension, anxiety, and depressed mood all got lower after exposure to singing bowls. If you’re reading this article, I’m sure that doesn’t surprise you that the study found that singing bowls helped with anxiety and tension.

So it’s a sure thing?

Now, there were some potential issues with the study, so I can’t in good conscience tell you to believe it as Gospel. Most notably:

  • the participants consisted of a convenience sample, which means they were already open to the concept
  • the sample was 62 individuals, which isn’t huge for a study
  • we know that meditation in general helps with all those factors, so we can’t attribute everything to the singing bowls

Bottom Line

I don’t need a scientific study to tell me that singing bowls work for me, my students, and my clients. There is no risk or side effect from listening to the vibrations, and the relaxation is truly exceptional. If you are looking for a bowl for yourself (or they make excellent gifts!), here are some of the bowls and other sound healing tools I currently have in my shop.

Love and light,

Caitlyn

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DIY Essential Oil Calming Spray – Safe for Dogs!

Do you have nervous dogs? I have 4, so they get to take turns being the neediest one haha If your dog has true anxiety, please consult with your vet or a dog trainer. But some calming essential oils can help with occasional nervousness.

Here’s an easy DIY to make a calming spray that’s safe to use around your dogs, on their bedding, or even on them (as long as being spritzed doesn’t freak them out).

First, it’s important to know what oils you can use safely use with your furry friends. My favorite reference tool is: The Animal Desk Reference: Essential Oils for Animals. I’ve also gotten a lot of great information from Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals: A Comprehensive Guide to the Use of Essential Oils & Hydrosols with Animals.

But you came here for a DIY, right? The oils I used in my calming spray are: Frankincense, Lavender, Petitgrain, Ylang Ylang, and Wild Orange. You’ll want to find a glass spray bottle, because essential oils can erode plastic. (I’m linking to the style I carry in my shop below). This bottle is 4oz, so I did 4 drops of each for a total of 20 drops of oil. Sometimes I’ll mix my sprays with witch hazel or rubbing alcohol because they blend a little better with the oils. For this one, I stuck with water because I wanted to keep it very gentle for my pups. Water and oil don’t mix, so you’ll want to give it a gentle shake before spritzing.

What I love about this is that it’s gentle enough to use around the dogs, and smells great for us humans to use too! Did you try it? What did you think? You can always email me at energyhealingwithcaitlyn@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Love and light,

Caitlyn

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How Mantras Helped Quiet my Anxious Mind

“I can’t meditate.” I’ve heard that so many times. Heck, there was a time when I said and thought that too. Sitting in silence with a completely empty mind might sound impossible. But meditation is so much more! There is a wide range of tools to assist you on your journey inwards. Let’s explore how you can use mantras and affirmations to help quiet your nervous mind.

How do you use a mantra or affirmation?

Finding an object of concentration is an essential part of meditation. You can focus on your breath – there are many books and articles about breathing techniques. But a mantra is a powerful way to focus your mind and align with a specific intention. The words give you something to come back to when your mind wanders. AND FYI, it is okay if your mind wanders, just gently bring yourself back to your intention.

You can chant your mantra out loud, if that speaks to you (pun intended haha), or work with it silently. They are both very different experiences, and I encourage you to try each way. I will spend time chanting a mantra out loud, but also let it be present in my mind throughout my day. You won’t usually see me in the grocery store chanting, but I’m probably thinking of a mantra.

I lean on my mantras the most when I’m having a hard time. Maybe it’s one of those days where one thing after another is going wrong – you know what I mean. When I feel like I’m about to hit my breaking point, I take a deep breath, and try to refocus my mind. Having a word or phrase to turn to is way more helpful than letting my “anxiety brain” take the wheel.

How do you pick a mantra?

Mantras can be in any language and for any purpose. Just find something that speaks to you! Here are some that I’ll use – it changes depending on what I need.

  • The 5 Reiki Precepts (English translations, but also the original Japanese)
  • Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu – May all beings be happy and free and may my actions contribute in some way
  • I am full of love and light
  • Om anandam nama – “May I be blissfully unattached from the outcome”
  • Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha – invokes the energy of Lord Ganesha, remover of obstacles

Need Help with Mantras?

I would LOVE to help you fill your meditation toolkit with mantras and affirmations that speak to you. If you’d like some ideas tailored just for you, email me at energyhealingwithcaitlyn@gmail.com

This book contains 21 great affirmations as you work through the wisdom of the 5 Reiki Precepts.

Love and light,

Caitlyn

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Natural Ways to Boost Energy

Do you wish you had more energy? One of the most common complaints I hear is that people are fatigued. Fatigue seems to go along with almost every chronic condition. More than that, it has become a way of life for most people! Well, I’m going to tell you some of the tricks I use when I’m feeling run down. BUT this is not meant to be a substitute for seeing a medical professional. If you feel like your fatigue is serious or linked to a serious condition, I encourage you to see a doctor.

  • Sleep Quantity and Quality – If you aren’t getting enough good sleep, it’s worth revisiting your bedtime routine. There are a lot of articles out there with sleep suggestions, so I’m not going to go into a ton of detail. But having a routine helps your mind realize it’s time for sleep. I have a white noise machine, leave time for reading, diffuse calming essential oils, and keep certain crystals under my pillow. If you want to read more about crystals for sleep, check out this article.
  • Nutrition – Usually when I’m feeling run down, I realize I’ve been eating too much junk food. Are you getting enough protein? Veggies? Fruit? A healthy snack can give you a quick boost! I’d recommend working with a registered nutritionist if you have specific concerns and questions.
  • Water – How long has it been since you’ve had a glass of water? Hydration is great!
  • Exercise – Once I’m moving, I find it so much easier to stay moving. The increased blood flow from exercise carries oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. Yoga is full of benefits for your mind and body. Pairing movement with intentional breathing is a great way to recenter and energize yourself. An energizing flow is a round or two of sun salutations! When I’m starting my day with sun salutations, I like to do 10 – that’s a good number for me to get all warmed up, but not overwhelming. If you aren’t familiar with sun salutations, check out this video.
  • Essential oils – Scent is so important to emotional health! Have you ever smelled something that perked you right up? My go-tos for energy are citrus and mint – orange and peppermint, lemon and spearmint. But you can use whichever oils make you feel happy. Let me know if you’d like me to make you a custom blend!
  • Crystals – Crystals have powerful energetic properties, so keeping energizing crystals with you can help give you a boost too! Some of the crystals I recommend are pyrite, orange calcite, malachite, and garnet. These crystals and more can be found in my Etsy Shop.

Do you have questions about any of these? Anything I missed? You can always send me an email at energyhealingwithcaitlyn@gmail.com. Thank you for letting me be part of your healing journey!

Love and light,

Caitlyn

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Recommended Books

I am so lucky to have had some truly fabulous books recommended to me – here are some of my favorites!  This list will certainly grow, as I’m always looking for new resources.  If you click on the title, it will take you to the Amazon page where you can see all the details or add it to your cart.

Reiki:

Crystals:

Essential Oils:

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Using Crystals and Essential Oils Together

crystals-and-essential-oilsTwo of my favorite healing tools – crystals and oils.   Using them together only magnifies their powers!  Are you unsure how to combine them?  I’m going to give you some tips, as well as some suggested combinations of oils and crystals.

How to use crystals and oils together

An easy way to pair crystals and oils is to coordinate which ones you’re working with each day.  Carry a crystal in your pocket (or bra haha), and use a dab of the accompanying oil on your wrist, neck, or the bottoms of your feet.

As part of your meditation practice, you can hold a crystal as a point of focus for the meditation, and use the scent of the oil to take you a little deeper into the meditation.

For calming oils and crystals, you can put the crystal under your pillow and diffuse the oil at bedtime.

Place small crystal chips inside your rollerball blends of essential oils.  If you’re looking for fun bottles to create these blends, I have a variety available in my Etsy shop.

Which combinations should I use?

When I’m pairing crystals and oils, I tend to select ones that are linked to the same chakra, or energy center.  If you’re looking for a great book for beginners about the chakras (with meditations, essential oils, crystals, and yoga poses for each chakra), I recommend Chakra Healing: A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Healing Techniques that Balance the Chakras.

Some combinations to get you started:

Video

I also made a video if you’d like to hear more!

Love and light,

Caitlyn

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Using Essential Oils Safely with Dogs

I get a lot of questions about how to use essential oils safely with dogs, so I decided to make a quick(ish) video showing you what I use with my pack.

The book I mentioned:

 

I’m happy to make (and ship!) custom oil blends.  Email me at energyhealingwithcaitlyn@gmail.com to start the process or get answers to any questions you may have.

Love and light,

Caitlyn

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Labradorite Metaphysical Properties

Finding the flash or fire in a piece of Labradorite makes me giddy.  But what do I love even more than the look of labradorite? The properties associated with this stone!  Labradorite is my go-to stone when faced with change.  Change can be scary, but I feel like the power of labradorite eases that transition.

Let me tell you more about that flash.  When the light hits this stone just right, its dark grey exterior lights up with blues, greens, and yellows.  The exact colors and the part of the stone with the most vibrancy varies from stone to stone.  While preparing for this article, I finally found out the name of that effect!

The play of colors is called labradorescence. The labradorescence, or schiller effect, is the result of light refracting within lamellar intergrowths resulting from phase exsolution on cooling in the Boggild miscibility gap, An48-An58.  Gemstone varieties of labradorite exhibiting a high degree of labradorescence are called spectrolite; moonstone and sunstone are also commonly used terms, and high-quality samples with good qualities are desired for jewelry.  (Source: Madagascar Minerals)

A man is like a bit of labradorite spar, which has no luster as you turn it in your hand until you come to a particular angle; then it shows deep and beautiful colors. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Labradorite got its name from Labrador in Canada, where it was found in 1770.  My yellow lab Mindy says that lots of good things come from there, but it sounded more like “woof.”  I’m sure you’re more interested in talking about the metaphysical properties of labradorite.

How to use Labradorite

My favorite use of labradorite is for support during times of change and transformation.  It helps to replace fears and insecurities with faith in yourself and trust in the universe.  It also brings strength and perseverance.

Many people believe that labradorite has strong healing energy supporting many physical problems.  This includes: lung disorders; respiratory problems, colds, and bronchitis; issues related to rheumatism, gout, and arthritis; pain; metabolism and digestion; blood pressure; PMS symptoms, pain and heavy menstruation; and detoxifying effects on tobacco, alcohol and hard drugs.

From a psychological and emotional standpoint, we believe labradorite supports: depression and hopelessness; anti-social, reckless, and impulsive behavior; and bringing out the best in people.

This stone is great for connecting with your intuition.  If you’re working to activate your third eye chakra, you want to work with labradorite.  It is also good for protecting you from negative energies as you work in the metaphysical realm.

Astrological Signs: Sagittarius, Scorpio and Leo
Element: Wind
Represents: Temple of the Stars
Associations: Moon, Uranus
Symbolizes: Fantasy and Creativity
Birthstone: Not a traditional birthstone for any month
Angel: Archangel Raphael, the healing angel

Labradorite Available for Sale

These are the labradorite pieces I currently have available in my shop.  If you’re looking for something specific, email me at energyhealingwithcaitlyn@gmail.com and I’ll see what I can find for you!

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DIY Sugar Scrub – Perfect for Gifting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handmade gifts are fun to make and give.  It’s a thoughtful way to show you care, and they can be inexpensive.  Sugar scrubs cover all these bases!  Give a spa experience, or use make one for yourself for some well-deserved relaxation.  Blend oils together to make something unique for your friend or loved one.

 

Here is a video explaining more!

 

Materials (** contains affiliate links) :

Share your favorite scrub scent combinations on Facebook or Instagram and tag me (Energy Healing with Caitlyn) so I can see!

Love and light,

Caitlyn

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