Nothing has called me to lean into my mindfulness and soul therapy practices more than my fertility journey has. I am reminded frequently why creating space to center myself when life is chaotic is so necessary for my wellbeing. One tool that has been helpful in doing so is a mala or set of prayer beads. Prayer beads have been used for centuries in various cultures and different religions – the rosary in Catholicism, the mala in Buddhism and Hinduism, the komboloi (worry beads) used by the ancient Greeks, to name a few. When you scratch beneath the surface, it is interesting to discover that the word ‘bead’ in its original form actually means ‘prayer’. It is derived from the old English and Germanic words ‘bede’/ ‘gebede’ / ‘bid’, which mean to ‘bid one’s prayers’ or ‘to pray’. So, it seems that for thousands of years something as simple as a string of beads was intended to be used as a tool for sacred conversations, mindfulness, to calm anxiety and anchor one in the present moment.
Discovering Prayer Beads
My first introduction to prayer beads was from my grandmother. I grew up watching her devotion to her daily spiritual practice. Each morning upon waking and each evening before bed, she carved out time for her prayers and meditation. As a kid, I was fascinated by her use of prayer beads as a means to mindfully hold her focus on whatever it was that she was meditating about. There seemed to be something deeply sacred in bearing witness to her state of communion with Spirit, gently rubbing each prayer bead between her fingers as she quietly whispered her holy bidding to Mother Mary, often contemplating the divine nature of the feminine experience – the joys and sufferings of both womanhood and motherhood.
In my teens, the beautiful nun who gave me religious instruction classes once a week gifted me my own set of prayer beads. It was a rosary from Fatima, made up of pale green beads that glowed in the dark at night. It always made me feel safe. When I was overcome with fear or anxiety at night, I’d hold it in my hand, still my thoughts and bring my attention to the vibration of love, joy and the feeling of being protected by my guardian angels. It restored my sense of security and put me at ease. To this day, I still keep that rosary at my bedside together with my mala beads. Although my growth and spiritual development has allowed me to explore various paths to presence and inner peace over the years, this is one practice that continues to play a positive and healing role in maintaining my peace of mind.
Creating My Fertility Mala
I recently had a rose quartz and moonstone mala custom-made specifically for my fertility mindfulness practice. I’ve had wonderful experiences using crystals for my meditation and healing journey. I’ve heard so many positive stories about the use of fertility crystals, and have personally felt the benefit of working with them to balance my energy or using them as intention stones. So the idea of using fertility crystals in my mala really resonated with me. I’ve quickly fallen in love with my fertility mala. It came in a beautiful pink satin pouch that I’ve filled with dried rose petals from my garden and scented with two drops of rose essential oil.
It always feels deeply soothing to hold a string of mala beads between my fingers or to wear it around my neck, harnessing in the energy of the crystals. When I rub the individual beads softly, I focus my attention on my breathing – inhaling, exhaling and allowing myself to quietly release the cluttered thoughts that crowd my mind – the constant worries about supplements, bloodwork results, OPKS and never ending appointments. With every breath I take, I sense myself relaxing more completely and becoming more grounded in calm. I close my eyes and whisper gratitude prayers, mindfulness mantras or fertility affirmations into the ethers in the same way that my grandmother does. The doubt and the fear start to dissipate when I do. I find myself leaning inward, enveloped in the warm comforting essence of stillness and somehow remembering how to trust in myself, how to trust my body and my journey in the midst of uncertainty and frustration.
How to Use a Fertility Mala
Remember that you can work with different visualizations, mantras and meditations depending on what you need most at the time. You may choose to keep it simple and just focus on being present with the rhythm of your breath. Or you can practice calming meditations for deep relaxation, meditate on the different phases of your menstrual cycle or focus on specific fertility affirmations. The following is a basic mala meditation guideline:
- Find a quiet place to sit down comfortably and become centered, calm and present.
- Hold the mala in your hand and drape it between your middle and index finger.
- Place your thumb on the first bead, bearing in mind that you will use your thumb to count the beads when work your way along the string.
- Take a deep breath in, focus on inhaling hope and positivity. (you can use your thumb to gently rub the bead as you do if you like)
- As you exhale, visualize releasing doubt and fear from your body and your mind.
- Move your thumb to the next bead on the string and repeat the visualization as you do: Inhale hope and positive energy, exhale doubt, stress and fear.
- Then move on to the next bead, allowing yourself to relax, surrender as you continue focusing on the rhythm of your breath and visualization.
Incorporating fertility affirmations:
Place your thumb on the first bead. Take a moment to meditate on what it will feel like when you are pregnant or are holding your baby in your arms. Draw this wonderful feeling into your mala meditation.
Inhale and focus on the affirmation: “I am fertile.” Exhale, saying: “I trust in the creative power of my body and my womb.”
Move your thumb to the next bead. Rubbing it softly, inhale saying: “I am fertile.” Exhale with the affirmation: “Each step forward takes me closer to my beautiful, happy and healthy baby.”
Visualize the experience of a healthy full-term pregnancy and the motherhood drawing closer and closer to you with every breath as you work your way along the string of mala beads.