You are your healer
Your affirmation mala is a tool, not a fix. You are your healer; you are the instigator of change in your life. Working with a mala is an act of self-love; it is an act of saying what you think and how you feel matters and is worth your energy, attention and time. When you commit to spending time with your mala, you are in effect committing to your ideal, to your ability to change. To this end, a mala can be used to:
- help you dedicate time to your intention
- count recitations of a chosen affirmation
- cultivate positive emotion during breathing meditation
About Affirmation Malas
A mala (/ˈmɑːlaː/) is a string of beads used to assist the counting of sacred prayers. They are also known as rosary or prayer beads. The term mala comes from the Sanskrit for “garland”: mālā.
An affirmation mala, as designed by Starfire Healing Works, is a string of beads used to assist the counting and cultivation of one’s sacred intentions. They are not religious objects; and you do not have to be religious to use them.
Starfire’s affirmation malas are comprised of 108 semi-precious stone beads used for recitation, plus an additional three spacer beads (including clasp if appropriate) and a guru bead. Spacer beads (which include the round magnetic clasp, if appropriate to your piece) are fixed every 27 beads. The guru bead comprises both the head and the tail of the mala.
You will notice Starfire’s affirmation beads are split, half of the counting beads one stone, the other half another. This split represents the give and take inherent to life, the ways in which we give to ourselves and give of ourselves. They are a reminder that all of life has both a yin aspect and yang aspect; they are inseparable, and go hand-in-hand.
How to use your affirmation mala
For Counting Recitations
State your intention
You may hold your mala in either hand; and you might experiment seeing if the practice feels any different to you when you hold the mala in either your receiving (non-dominant) or giving (dominant) hand. Choosing a hand, drape the mala over your second or third finger, using the thumb to move the counting beads.
Start reciting your affirmation or prayer by counting off from either bead adjacent to the guru bead. For each recitation, slide one bead under your finger until you reach a fixed bead.
As you slowly work your way around the garland, allow yourself to be affected by what you’re declaring:
- Is it what you really mean?
- How do you feel when you say it?
- Do you need to adjust your choice of words?
Find the words that feel just right– words that leave you feeling empowered, open, loved and loving. Feel free to adjust as you work your way around the mala.
Reflect on your practice
When you come to a fixed marker (i.e. spacer) bead on the garland, pause your recitation and allow it to be a wake-up call or reminder:
- Are you still practicing?
- Has your mind drifted?
- How are you feeling?
Sometimes it can be easy to let our mind go on auto-pilot as we repeat an intention outloud. The uncounted spacer bead reminds you: The power is not in the words; but in what they symbolize for you. Are you allowing yourself to be affected by your practice?
Allow yourself to dream
After streamlining your intention over 108 counting beads, and cultivating positive emotion thrice along the markers, you come back to the guru bead upon completing one full round of the mala. This symbolic bead, also known as the mother bead, represents your creation and all of possibility. When you reach this fixed bead, pause or stop your affirmation recitation. Allow yourself to flex the faculty of your imagination:
- What experience is it that you really value?
- Can you imagine that experience as realized in your life?
- What would that look like? Feel like? Sound like?
- How would you feel and act living that possibility?
- As you imagine your intention realized, is there anything you can do or change to make it any more beautiful, any more real?
Should you choose to continue recitations after reaching the mother bead, turn or flip the mala around to proceed counting in the opposite direction. This symbolic act of not ‘stepping over’ the guru bead stands to remind you the value of your inner work.
Benefit from practice
Ideally, you would go around your mala three times a day, for a total of 324 recitations. For some, that can feel daunting; but try it once and you’ll see what internal shifts can happen when you dedicate that much time concentrating on your intention. If you are crunched for time, you can complete one round of the mala, or simply count off to one of the marker beads.
The more you use your mala, the more your intention wears off on the beads, and the more the energy of the beads wears off on you. For this reason, you may choose to wear your mala on your wrist or around your neck after recitation as an added benefit of practice (remove before bathing). As a carrier of the energy you have been building, your mala is both a physical and energetic reminder of your important and powerful inner work.
When out of use, stow your affirmation mala in a safe and respected place, such as in a pouch or on an altar.
How to use your affirmation mala
For Breathing Meditation
A practice of give and take
Starfire’s affirmation malas were designed to be yin-yang balanced. That means, like all things, there is a give and a take:
- What quality would you like more of in your life?
- What would you like to express in your words and actions?
Holding the mala in both your hands, or alternatively, wearing it around the neck, you have one gemstone supporting the receiving side (non-dominant hand) and another supporting the giving side (dominant hand). You may choose which gemstone property you would like to support which aspect: That which you give yourself, or that which you give of yourself.
Become the magnet
As you breathe in, imagine you draw in the qualities of the stone and/or your intention through your non-dominant side. You might imagine yourself like a magnet, with the whole side of your body drawing this quality in. As you draw it in, you may imagine it flowing into the area of your mala’s focus, e.g. root chakra in the case of the adjacent black obsidian and moonstone mala.
State your intention
Add a statement appropriate to your intention with the breath if you would like. For example, if I draped black obsidian over my non-dominant side, as with the above moonstone and black obsidian affirmation mala, I could say “I breathe in spaciousness,” as I simultaneously imagine my root filling out into and being held within this boundless and protective space.
Become the vessel
As you breathe out, imagine drawing in and channeling the quality of your intention or appropriate gemstone through and out your dominant side. How would you like to meet the world? What would you like to give, to express, or to become in effect? Can you allow yourself to imagine that quality naturally flowing through you?
State your intention
As you breathe out, you may couple this body experience with words, such as “I breathe out calm,” when moonstone is draped over the dominant side for example. Allow yourself to be affected by your imagination of this quality. How would it feel to resonate with calm, for instance? Can you find that quality in your body, mind, or memory, in order to draw it to the forefront of your experience?