Anytime I teach someone how to knot their own mala beads, more than anything, I ask that people be patient with themselves. It's pretty common to hear people say 'I bet this is really easy' or 'It can't be that hard it's just knots.' Then once diving into the task they realize that their fingers may knot produce the "perfect" knot that they had anticipated.
And then they criticize themselves immediately. 'I suck!' they exclaim. Or 'I'll never be able to do this!' They close up in frustration and the meditative art turns into a never-ending task of fumbled fingers and self-loathing.
This is when I chime in, 'But it's your first knot.'
In life, we go through so many firsts. First steps, first hobby, first crack at algebra, first job, etc. and it's extremely rare that through any of these new experiences we whiz our way right through it. We stumble. We fall. We fail. We try again. And again. And again. And...
Until we get a little closer to our goal.
Knotting mala beads tends to hold up a pretty accurate mirror as to how we talk to ourselves when faced with a new challenge. Do we berate ourselves? Laugh through it? Ask for help? Give up? Or simply breathe through it and tell ourselves the next time will be better?
The beauty of watching someone knot their first mala is there is physical evidence of the process and progress. First the struggle and beads that are spaced wide apart, and then a little less so until there is a beautiful row of beads nestled right next to to each other.
I invite my students to be proud of their mistakes. To love the 'imperfections' in their malas because our lives are covered it them and they add to the tapestry of what makes each of us who we are. And that is beautiful.
Join me at The Freyja Project on August, 30th to give your first mala a try.