There are 108 beads on one string, a handmade mala that I use for prayer and meditation. It is not made in the traditional way with the big bead and tassel to mark the beginning and end; it is just a string of jasper beads. The only way I can tell if I am at the beginning or end is to feel the rough spot where the string is tied together. No matter how I try to cut and tie the ends together there is always a little rough spot.
When I start to chant, I start at the rough spot and when I get around to it again I know it’s time to stop. In between I can explore the mantra, get to know it, get lost in it or find myself at a new understanding of some aspect of my life.
Today I was aware of the rough spot and realized that very often when I am at a rough spot in my life I am either beginning or ending something. Somehow, just knowing that makes it seem less dramatic.
When I begin my meditation I know I am beginning and I know how difficult it can be to make myself sit still; the rough spot on the mala helps me shake off distractions and focus. The next time I feel the familiar roughness it is a welcomed event; it means I am finished for now and I can assimilate what has just transpired.
I wonder if I can look at the flow of living in the same way. I wonder if when I experience hardship I can ask myself what is it that is beginning or what has come to an end.
When I pick up my mala I feel a reverence for the meditation that follows and when I put it down I know that I will eventually come back to it, again and again and that every time I pray and meditate I am changed in subtle but significant ways.