Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review Time! Custom Mala Shop's Exclusive Lotus Seed and Lapis Lazuli 108 Bead Mala



An Amazing Mala!
Until recently I had never known the pleasure of meditating with a lotus seed Mala. You may be wondering why I never tried this type of Mala until now.  I was under the false impression that lotus seeds were fragile, thus I chose gemstones or wooden Malas over lotus seeds Malas.  The idea that lotus seeds are fragile could not be farther from the truth.  Lotus seeds are light weight yet very durable – dare I say more durable than wooden beads? Combine their durability and light weight with the texture of the lotus seeds and you have a Mala that is a pleasure to use on a daily bases without fear of breaking.  


What Makes this Mala Unique?:
One of the aspects that set this Mala apart from others is the re-drilling work that was done to the beads.  The re-drilling allows the beads to be strung onto a durable cord that is thicker and stronger than 90% of the Malas in my collection - honestly I don’t see how anyone could break this Mala through normal use. Re-drilling is a time consuming process that requests patience and thus costs more. However, re-drilling is worth every penny! Re-drilling each bead individually is the only way to be able to thread beads onto such a think cord - ensuring that the Mala will last for years. To the best of my knowledge Jason Walz of Custom Mala Shop is the only person who offers this opinion. Below is a photo which showcases the difference between re-drilled beads and standard beads.

Another aspect which makes this Mala unique is use of symbolism incorporated by the beads. Lapis lazuli, sterling silver and lotus seeds all have deep rooted symbolism that calls to people of all faiths and walks of life.


Lapis Lazuli Beads:

Meditating with Lapis Lazuli is thought to bring inner peace, assist with openness, strengthen inner power, help one to express love, expand intuitive skills, and bring purification. In ancient times Lapis Lazuli was thought to strengthen the mind and body, allowing one's inner power to manifest. It was also thought to purify one's thoughts and bring inner peace. Symbolically Lapis Lazuli represents the power of the spoken word and is thought to help foster verbal expression, and clear problems caused by fear of speaking in public. Lapis Lazuli is said to encourage clear, truthful expression when sharing information with others. The ancient Egyptians used Lapis Lazuli as a symbol of Truth. Practitioners of crystal healing say that Lapis Lazuli is a good stone to expand intuitive skills while remaining objective and open to reasoned analysis. It is also thought that this gemstone shields against negative emotions.

Geological:
Stone Type/Family: A member of the Feldspathoid Family, Silicates Class. Lapis Lazuli, or Lapis for short, is mostly Lazurite with inclusions of Pyrite, Calcite and other minerals.
Crystal System: Isometric
Chemical Composition: (Na,Ca)8(Al,Si)12O24S2FeS CaCO3Al2O3, Sodium Calcium aluminumosilicate
Hardness: 5.5-6.5

Metaphysical:
Primary Chakra:  Throat, Third Eye, Crown
Astrological sign(s): Sagittarius

Fun Fact: Lapis Lazuli is said to have been in existence since the birth of time, and was used by ancient Hebrews on ceremonial robes. Lapis Lazuli is one of the original stones in the breastplate of the High Priest.


Sterling Silver Spacer Beads:
Silver is a metal associated with intuition, love, inner peace and protection. Symbolically silver relates to the moon and is often associated with the yin or feminine energies. For this reason it is thought to help overcome aggressiveness by bringing peace into one's awareness. It is also said that silver acts as a "mirror to the soul", allowing one to see deep within one’s self with absolutely no judgment.

Geological:
Stone Type/Family: A member of the Gold Group, Elements Class
Crystal System: Isometric
Chemical Composition: Ag, Elemental silver
Hardness: 2.5-3

Metaphysical:
Primary Chakra: ALL
Astrological sign(s): Cancer, Aquarius
Vibration: Number 4

Fun Fact: Silver is used in jewelry, tableware, coins, scientific equipment and in photographic processes.

Lotus Seeds:
The significance of lotus seeds relates back to the symbolic meaning of the lotus flower – a symbol of spiritual knowledge and power. The life of the lotus flower begins in the mud, yet it rises from this humble beginning and unfolds into one of the most beautiful flowers on earth. Lotus flowers spend their life in water; however falling rain drops will not stick on to its petals – they simply roll off the flower and fall into the water.  Just as rain drops cannot change the beauty of the lotus flower, so too can this be for one who is spiritually attended with their soul. When truly in touch with Spirit the cares of the world no longer have the weight that they once did – worries and fears roll off just as rain on the lotus flower.

What is a Mala?:
 

A good size comparison!
History
  • Buddhist prayer beads, traditionally called Malas, first developed as a religious tool on the Indian continent. "The use of beads in prayer appears to have originated with Hindu religious practices in India, possibly around the 8th century," writes the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Missouri. Since the 8th century the practice of using a Mala during meditating has been seen in Buddhism, Hindus and among those from any walk of life who enjoy meditation.
Identification
  • Standard Buddhists Mala normally consist of 108 beads, but the number may vary in different sects of Buddhism. Each bead is a symbol of impurities and flaws that an individual must overcome.
    108 beads is said to represent the following formula:
    6 x 3 x 2 x3 = 108
    6 senses of a human being: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, thought
    3 times: past, present, future
    2 conditions of heart, mind or intention: pure or impure
    3 disturbing emotional states or "kleshia": like, dislike, indifference
Significance in Buddhism
  • The Buddha himself is believed to have instructed his followers to utilize the use of Malas. There is a Sutra (Buddhist Text) in which a King asks to the Buddha for a simple practice to help ease his suffering from various difficulties. Buddha responded by telling him to string 108 seeds and recite the three part refuge prayer upon them.
Origin
  • The word Mala, also referred to as japa Mala, is derived from the Indian Sanskrit phrase for garland. The English word rosary, the western term for prayer beads, owes its etymology to Roman miscommunication. "When Roman explorers came into India and encountered the Mala, they heard japa Mala, and japa for the Romans meant 'rose,'' according to ReligionFacts.com. The word "rosary" eventually evolved from that translation as Romans carried the prayer bead concept back to the western world.

Why 108 beads? 

Generally, a standard Mala consists of 108+1 beads with a knot between the beads. The number 108 has several meanings. Some of them are:
  1. 27 constellations x 4 padas(parts)     = 108
  2. 12 zodiac houses x 9 planets               = 108
  3. Upanishats Scriptures of the Vedas = 108
This basically means that the 108 beads represent the entire universe to many people – which in turn symbolizes being one with the universe and realizing your place in the universe.  This Mala is a standard 108 count Mala designed for meditation and spiritual practices. Malas can be used by people of all faiths to enhance their spiritually. 


Artist Bio:

"My name is Jason Walz and I am the proprietor of the Custom Mala Shop. I consider myself a non-denominational Dharma Practitioner who follows no single teacher or lineage. I originally became interested in Dharma Practice through the Martial Arts and Taoism. While practicing martial arts I became much more interested in the "why" of the arts rather than the physical process (although really they are one and the same). So, I first started to investigate Taoism. That in turn led me to investigate Buddhism and the Buddha's teachings. The Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path resonated with me immediately. I had always been interested in religion in general (I have a BA in anthropology) but the Buddha's teachings seemed to transcend the rote scholarly approach to religion. They offered to me a way to approach life that simply "made sense".

Now, several years later, I no longer practice the martial arts but I focus a great deal of my time not only contemplating the Buddha's teachings but also hopefully living them partially through my effort of practicing Right Livelihood. Right Livelihood is of course the 5th step in the Eight Fold Path. It is through Right Livelihood that one attempts to earn a living while not harming others; while not acting selfishly; while contributing to the lessening of the suffering of others. I hope that the Malas I make help to accomplish this. Making Malas also allows me to express myself artistically. Although really it is the customer who comes up with the majority of the creativity involved I do get to play at "artist" as I put together the customer's creation. I get great satisfaction and peace from doing something as simple as watching a diamond tipped drill bit slowly sink into a lapis bead. I find it relaxing to sit and drop bead after bead onto a strand of cord and listen to the "clack-clack-clack".

A little more biographically speaking I am a single dad of two stunningly wonderful kids. I also have two Rhodesian Ridgebacks that help me make Malas by sleeping on the sofa all day (or under my feet!). I live in sunny Mesa Arizona and ride my mountain bike on the local trails daily. I recently (as of June 2011) left my regular 9-5 job in favor of making Malas full-time. The Custom Mala Shop is now my main source of income although I am still doing as little database management on a consulting basis." ~ Jason Walz

My Personal Opinion:
 My Altar Featuring Jason's Amazing Malas!
Over the past few years I have used many Malas during mediation. Yet the ones created by Jason Walz stand above the rest.  I can feel the love and care that he puts into each Mala which truly makes using one of his Malas a wonderful experience.  Meditating with this Mala is a peaceful experience – personally I find the textile feel of the lotus seeds to be very comforting and relaxing. This comforting feeling draws me deeper into my meditation experience.  This Mala combines the amazing energy of lapis lazli with the life giving energy of lotus seeds.  For me this blinding of plant energy with gemstones is simply amazing. 
As a Mala meant for daily use it preforms without flaw even after months of usage. If you are new to Mala or simply looking for a new experience I highly recommend investing in a lotus seed Mala– these are durable and maintain their beauty. 

Check out Custom Mala Shop at http://custommalashop.com/ for other amazing Malas!

The Benefits of Meditation:
Science has proven that practicing meditation on a regular bases has many health benefits. Studies show that with as little 10 to 15 minutes of daily meditation we can improve our physical and emotional health, while at the same time strengthening our minds. Considering the benefits, devoting a few minutes of your day to meditation is time well spent. Below are the benefits.
  1. Stabilizes the autonomous nervous system.
  2. Increases concentration, self-esteem, spontaneity, creativity, and depth of awareness. Studies also show that mediators have warmer interpersonal relationships, less anxiety, increased self-esteem and self-confidence, increased problem-solving ability and greater creativity.
  3. Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.
  4. It reduces the heart beat
  5. Lowers high blood pressure- There is strong evidence that meditation helps lower blood pressure in people who are normal or moderately hypertensive. This finding has been replicated by more than nineteen studies, some of which have shown systolic reductions among their subjects of 25 mmHg or more. A few people with acute hypertension have also experienced lower blood pressure in experiments of this kind. Several studies, however, have shown that relief from high blood pressure diminishes or disappears entirely if meditation is discontinued(not practiced on a regular bases)."
  6. EMG activity increases
  7. Stomach function and bowel function improve
  8. The endocrine function is heightened- It has been recently demonstrated that meditation reduces sympathetic adrenergic receptor sensitivity, producing a decreased response to stressful situations.
  9. Body posture is improved
  10. Stamina increases
  11. Improved energy level and vitality
  12. Production of serotenine increases- Serotonin influences mood and behavior in many ways. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to a variety of disorders. For example, conditions associated with low serotonin levels include: depression, obesity, insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, migraine headaches, premenstrual syndrome, and fibromyalgia.
  13. Intake of oxygen gets stronger
  14. Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.
  15.  Decreases muscle tension (any pain due to tension) and headaches.
  16. Increases exercise tolerance in heart patients.
  17. Leads to a deeper level of relaxation.
  18. Helps those who suffer from insomnia:: When trained in meditation, 75% of suffers experienced improvement.19. Helps to improve chronic diseases like allergies , asthma etc.
  19. Helps those who suffer from Chronic Pain
  20. Helps in post-operative healing.
  21. Enhances the immune system.
  22. Improved Awareness and Concentration.
  23. Slows the aging process
  24. Helpful for treating Habits and AddictionsReferences

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