We were given mālā beads at our TT graduation. I’d been feeling weirdly guilty that I hadn’t actually used them yet. If I don’t use them, ought I give them back?! So after my usual sitting practice I used them this morning — my first attempt at a formal 108 repetitions of a mantra! I chose something familiar, something I’m drawn to recently. And importantly only 4 words long! I don’t think I’m really up for 108 of the 4-line Gayatri mantra — even though I love the sounds and it evokes such a sense of awe, joy, and peace in me. Because — wow! — 108 is quite a big number and a massive challenge to find focus on any level throughout. How to keep the syllables turning through my mind or across my lips without going onto autopilot? How to keep my heart and my thoughts tuned in to the meaning of the mantra for me today?
Using the mālā with my eyes closed meant that I had no sense of the progression through the count. Was I half-way yet? Was I nearly finished? Could I make each repetition as open-hearted and full wonder as the first? When I got to the end could I just let go without regretting the moments when I know I checked out and hurried on through?
It was a really interesting observational experience of how to stay in the present moment, awake to every possibility that arises. It was just not a very profound devotional experience. More practice required — as in all things! I’m quite looking forward to starting again tomorrow.
Before class tonight I tried to talk to one of the graduates about my experience. She looked confused. “You did what? Mālā — what is that? Oh you mean the necklace!”
OK, so no judgement, right? I explained the word, reminded her of Mālāsana and how we’d talked about the significance of 108 in TT.
And then I shut up and did my āsana practice.