Spiritual Toolbox: Custom Malas by Lauren Sheehan
There are many types of sacred tools that we acquire on a spiritual and healing path. Many of these tools serve to anchor us in our practice and become an extension of who we are and how we express our energy. Mala beads are just one of these sacred tools. Similar to the rosary in Catholic tradition, mala beads are used in Hindu and Buddhist tradition as a tactile tool for counting mantras, prayers, or repeating divine names of god and goddess, either silently to oneself, or out loud. The word mala is Sanskrit for “garland.”
As a lover and practitioner of gemstones and their energies, and after receiving a powerful mantra initiation in India in 2014 with Chameli Ardagh and the Awakening Women Institute, I sought out beautiful custom malas made with intention and quality gemstones. At the time I couldn’t find what I was looking for, suprisingly! Lately I have seen some sisters in the tribe creating beautiful work, and I want to share their divinely crafted work with you.
I reached out to feminine embodiment coach, artist, speaker, and dancer Lauren Sheehan who has been knocking it out of the park with her custom mala designs to find out more about her and her work!
Awakening the Goddess: How does the mala as a tool tie into your life and practice?
Lauren: As a tool, the mala is a spiritual practice for me on many levels. When I first started selling them and making customs for people, they taught me about staying centered in my value. They have been teaching me patience, care, and quality. They have given me space to make something with the level of craftsmanship and loving energy that I really want. They have been a healing way to bring out the artist in me and the confidence to own that I’m a jewelry maker and artist, and to explore learning to make other styles of jewelry.
Wearing them is healing and powerful. Each month I seem to wear a new mala around until it is “complete”. I learn more about how they speak to me, how to care for them, how to create sacred space with them. They really have deepened the ritual and ceremonialism in me.
They teach me about timing and what it takes to create quality work through my whole process. In this way, they have helped me claim my space when it comes to my creative process and my timing in creation. I make sure to tell clients the time frame I want to create and that they understand my creative process so that we are all on the same page, but I still have the spaciousness to create without rush. It has been easy for me in the past to want to rush myself to make a deadline for someone. I’ve learned with the Malas, taking time is important and trusting divine timing is sacred.
They teach me about economy and giving and receiving. There is an ancient trading economy called the “Kula Ring” in which bracelets and necklaces are exchanged in a circular way through the community and everything else in the community is shared. There is a way that the exchange of the jewelry creates a human bond between the giver and receiver, and in that way the natural flow of energy stays connected.
I feel a similar energy in the exchange of jewelry. Because it’s not some piece of paper we can just ignore, it’s a beautiful art piece full of life and energy; it has meaning. Therefore, people are reconnected to the spirit of the gift and the spirit of something made just for them with love. My handmade notes are for them. Everything inside the package is for them. The soul and the spirit recognize this and healing happens just because of that.
I have made several that I have given as gifts unconditionally and that has been really special to experience. We don’t often receive or create such intentional gifts with so much meaning for each other any more. Making the malas has deeply connected me back to the desire to do, be, and have things and bonds with rich meaning for me in life.
This month a friend of mine and I made each other malas and sent them to each other. I loved it. It’s the first time I’ve received a mala made for me, by someone whose intention was on me.
In a big way, the Malas have gifted me with a new visceral sense of the kind of economic system I desire to participate in and how I want to relate to money, giving, receiving, and community bonds; putting time, energy, and money into what is sacred to me.
As a meditation tool, I admit I’m not a mantra meditator. I tried several times with a mala and I did like it. It hasn’t stuck yet. Maybe if/when I have a mantra initiation from someone.
AWG: How did you get started making malas? What do you love about making them?
L: I started making malas in may 2015 when my friend Sierra hosted a women’s circle and mala making party. We all went to this Tibetan store and picked out the beads and she taught us how to string and knot the malas, and to tie the tassels. I was pretty much hooked after my first one.
I had been wanting to learn more about stones and crystals for a while but never did anything about it. I’m also extremely creative and the idea of making my own jewelry was exciting and meaningful to me. I saw a creative medium I had never had before.
The process of making the malas provides a space for me to learn more about the healing properties of crystals and to strengthen my intuitive knowing. It’s a soothing and artistic process. Each Mala is unique and different. Each has it’s own soul. I get to follow the rhythm of life when I make them.
AWG: Tell me about the process that goes into creating one of your pieces.
L: I make Custom Designed Malas that are intuitively designed and very intentionally crafted and ceremonially infused.
When I meet with a new client, often we meet for a 60-90 minute healing session where I ask soul-rooted questions, teach a feminine embodiment meditation practice, and get to the heart of what their soul and spirit is asking to be healed and brought into wholeness next. Through that session, I receive information that I need to connect to a person’s individual being and be guided to create a Mala that will serve their highest destiny and desires.
After we meet, I use my intuitive senses to choose the stones or crystals and any other accents and colors I may want to use. I like to have about 3-4 weeks to create and craft, that way I’m not rushed and the creative process can stay sacred. Often it takes me a week or so just to gather the right materials as I use different sources from an ebay seller to local stores and crafters.
When I sit down to craft the mala, often I light a candle and call in the specific person’s spirit and higher self, and say a prayer before I begin so that I’m making the mala in that sacred ritual space. I don’t use mantra much, a few times I have as it felt so right for that particular piece. The energy that is infused into the malas comes from my love and connection to the person and the clear intentions I have as I’m guided towards what will really serve that person.
I use astrology and numerology to guide my patterns. Most of the time, my custom pieces have a pattern that is reflective of a person’s life path numbers ( a la Dan Millman’s book).
I’m a storyteller and a medicine woman at heart, and so it is important to me to create something that has meaning for the person receiving it. That is part of the medicine of them. Each stone I choose and other object that goes into it is very personal and specific to that person.
I usually choose the guru stone last after I have knotted the beads because I like to get the visual information from the piece as I choose the center point.
I love doing out of the box, bold designs. Using large raw crystals, adding cool metals and shapes, and different textures.
When I am complete with the Mala I sit down to write out it’s Name and Story. Lately I’ve been handwriting everything because I like the home-made feeling of that. How often do you get something that was handmade just for you, and handwritten just for you these days?
I want to make sure the receiver has a connection to my own story and intention while creating, but also leave them room to let the mala tell it it’s own story, so that they can make it theirs.
Before I send it in the mail, I do a cleansing ceremony where I light another candle, open with a prayer, clear the beads of negative or un needed energy so that the mala is ready to be received openly by it’s new owner. I wrap the malas in a beautiful cloth that I lace with Jasmine-rose essential oil so it smells wonderful, and then send it off with a few other notes on how to use, experience, and care for the mala.
Jewelry acts as a talisman, a reminder of the energy you want to bring into your life next. My Malas are meant to be personal, meaningful, and medicine for the soul and spirit.
Do you have a favorite mantra?
As I said earlier, I don’t often use mantra when I’m crafting because I want the person to be able to fill it with their own energy, but my intention when I’m creating is to for the mala to be of highest service to who ever it’s going to.
Usually I have a sense for what someone is needing, and I think more often than not, my energy during the making of the mala carries the messages for that person.
One of my favorite Mala’s I made called “Sacred Compassion” that was made with matte rose quartz and moonstone, with pink acryllic roses and wood,
“I am compassionate and loving towards myself.” and “I am a loving and feminine wife and mother”.
I said those two mantras alternating as I string each bead and I needed those words just as much as she did.
My other favorite sanskrit mantra is “Om Shreem Matre, Namaha, Namaha”
Original Article Published at