Malas for Haiti: Taking Seva One Bead at a Time. ~ Kristin Adair

Via on Aug 9, 2011

I’m not afraid to admit it—I’m drawn to pretty things. I’ve struggled with the tug of materialism since childhood. Here, have a new [whatever], you’ll feel better.

So when I went to India for this first time as part of my long-time-in-coming transition from over-educated, well-heeled young professional to over-educated, emerging-inner-hippie suburban yoga teacher, I fell in love with a set of mala beads because they brought out the color in my eyes. And because a wise man told me those were the right stones for me. And because it’s what yogis are supposed to buy in India.

But when I held the cool beads in my hand, I felt a pulsing energy, something powerful and grounding. I was drawn to them. They represented for me the start of a long path to begin to fill a spiritual void that I had been carrying for many years, the genesis of my decision to travel to India in the first place.

I have to admit, however, despite bringing home several sets of japa mala beads that I dipped in the healing waters of the river Ganges, I still have yet to settle into the daily mantra and meditation practice that I know is a vital part of my spiritual journey. But I am at peace with the fact that I will get there in my own time.

And the beads still play a very important part in my practice of yoga, reminding me that this journey must start slow—one bead at a time. Right now, I’m steeped in the practice of being present, not getting lost in the lure of every shiny object that floats by, not getting distracted by the inner critic that likes to remind me I’m a good-for-nothing yogi because I can’t manage to meditate and chant every morning.

My mala beads took on a new meaning when I embarked on the Global Seva Challenge in collaboration with Off the Mat, Into the World, to raise funds and awareness for sustainable relief efforts in Haiti. This is another practice that for me has seriously tested my edge. I’m good at spending money and supporting other people’s causes. But I am challenged by asking for donations, by finding my voice to champion a cause I believe in. By connecting with others in a meaningful way rather than always choosing an easy yet sheltered road. And especially by not letting a big intention and a big goal—raising $20,000 for Haiti—make me feel small, doubting, and powerless.

So, I decided to make malas. . . . Because I find something so powerful about a strand of 108 little beads hanging around my neck, whether I’m meditating with them or not. It reminds me to focus only on the present repetition instead of the 107 beads that lie ahead. To not let the big goal overshadow each tiny step to get there.

Every mala that I sell, every small request that I make—asking a friend or a complete stranger to support my effort or buy a piece of jewelry—brings me one step further along on my journey. But the beads also help me remember to stay unattached to the material goal of the challenge and the dollar signs that go with it. It’s all about the journey, and it’s all about the intention: to serve, with no view towards the outcome, simply out of compassion and deep love. I am constantly humbled by the innumerable gifts I have been given in this life and the opportunity to share them.

As I travel simultaneously on my own inner spiritual journey and outwardly as a leader in this incredible effort for Haiti that is so much bigger than myself, I am learning about yoga in a way that I might not ever experience it on my mat.

And for those who buy the malas I have lovingly made, one bead at a time, in a process that is itself much like a meditation, I hope they will find the same path to peace that I have. One bead at a time.

~

Kristin Adair took a long and winding path to discover the transformational power of yoga and settle into the extraordinary and unexpected role of teacher. Trained as a lawyer and policy wonk, she now teaches vinyasa flow yoga classes in the Washington, DC, area and lives yoga by teaching outreach classes and engaging in seva.

All funds raised through the Seva Challenge will go directly to Off the Mat’s partners and projects in Haiti—from building and supporting a much-needed orphanage and community center, installing water filtration systems to protect rural communities from cholera, and providing microloans to help empower Haitians to build businesses and better lives. Learn more about Malas for Haiti at www.tohaitiwithlovedc.org/products.

About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of elephantjournal.com. Questions? info elephantjournal com

704 views

If you liked this, you might like these:

3 Responses to “Malas for Haiti: Taking Seva One Bead at a Time. ~ Kristin Adair”

  1. tanya lee markul says:

    Thank you Kristin!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  2. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  3. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

Leave a Reply