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I found inner strength in a strand of beads

standard June 4, 2010 8 responses

On Wednesday my preschool meeting had its last event, a “Prayer Bead” making session. I was leery at first about attending because I always shy away from anything that hints at religion, (Hey, I’m working on it!) but I’m so glad I went. It was an amazing session that I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

I decided to consider the broader meaning of prayer in this instance. I went in with the intent on making zen beads, or maybe even meditation beads. What I got out of the session was a trip into my head and my heart, and a strand of beads that helps me find my inner calm.

We were shown a large array of beads and told what each color meant,* then we were invited to listen to our hearts and create the strand of beads that would speak to what we needed most. It was incredible to see at the end just how different everyone’s strands turned out. We all worked from the same bags of assorted beads, and we all created something unique.

I took notes while I was stringing the beads so I would remember what each one meant and why I’d picked it. I’m glad I did. I probably would have forgotten five minutes later and you’d have nothing to read right now.

I picked the black crinkled heart because black can symbolize the ultimate mystery and introspection. It seemed like a great place to start any quest for inner peace. Every step I take is into uncharted waters, I like to think I take it with heart.

I picked the series of blue beads because blue can symbolize relaxation and mediation. You need to know your true intentions before you move forward and you can’t know that without relaxing and looking inward. I picked the two spirals to symbolize the inward journey and then the outward journey.

This little silver sliver that says simply “Now” is there to remind myself to stay focused on the present moment. It’s always too easy to get lost in the what-ifs and the what-whens. Now is always more important.

I picked two pink beads to symbolize love. The light first to remind myself that loving myself needs to come first. The reflective one to remember to shed that love on others once I’ve taken care of myself.

I picked an array of green beads – green for hope, regrowth, balance, and rebirth – to remind myself that balance is always in flux and hard to achieve, and that often the solutions are hard to read and doesn’t look the way you would expect. I love that the first green bead there is wood. Feeling it along the way stops me and forces me to focus on it. It’s just too easy to discount the importance of balance in our lives. We shouldn’t be allowed to ignore it.

Red symbolizes passion, power, life, and strength so I picked that big red heart and put it right dab in the middle because I need all those things in the center of my life. They are at the center of who am I, of who I want to be, of who I strive to be. The other two red beads remind me that strength can be found in odd places, even small flowery, nondescript places.

I hesitated at this point, wondering if I had enough to go on, but I realized that I needed more than inner strength to move ahead. I picked the yellow beads because they symbolize wisdom and enlightenment. They’re not clear to remind me that you have to search for wisdom and even when you think you’ve found it, you can always search some more.

I bucked convention and put a heavy bead at the end. It’s purple which can symbolize intuition to remind me to trust my gut. It’s usually right and rarely steers me wrong.

And last but not least I placed a tiny nugget of black at the end before a long empty strand, because even when you’ve made your journey into your heart and your head there’s always going to be some of that ultimate mystery left over. The journey never ends, there’s always more to discover.

I thought I’d walk out of the session and toss the beads into my bag only to forget about them until the next time I cleaned it out, but as the day’s stress piled up I found myself reaching for them, playing with them, just holding them in my hands. When I held them I felt more at peace, more in control.

These beads are a bright and very physical representation of what’s in my heart and who I am. It’s good to be reminded of everything I possess when I’m feeling frazzled, stressed, or even incapable.

The woman who made that bead strand can do anything and be anyone. I am that woman and I’m glad to now have a tangible reminder of it.

*I looked for an online source for the meanings and symbolism of the colors, but I was unable to find something that matched what we were told. I’ll keep looking.

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8 responses

  • That’s beautiful! I was going to write a post about my beads too until my day’s events trumped it.

    Funny thing is, I reach for my beads too and felt so serene.

  • Amy Byrne

    I was thinking we should link this to our facebook page for our next meeting on beads but I think part of the fun for new people is coming in much like you did and then discovering how truly awesome it is to have this tangible reminder of what we want for our lives. Great post!

  • Sometimes I need a little something close to me that I can grip for a quick reminder of all that I am, all that I desire, and all that I stand for. This bead idea may be the way to go.

  • Amazing, what a great article!!

  • That is so cool. When I was pregnant with my last baby (I have 6 girls), I joined a due date club on the mothering.com message boards and we had a bead exchange midway through our pregnancies, each of us mailed in like 40 beads and a self-addressed, stamped envelope, to a mom who volunteered to distribute them. A few weeks later, my envelope arrived packed with beads and pretty ribbons and cards from everyone. The rosebud bead lady didn’t stay with us long after that, she lost her baby. The lady with the bear bead had twins and the lady who contributed the turtle bead lived in Hawaii. Each bead is a story of the woman who contributed it and I’m telling you that if my house were to catch on fire, that string of beads would be the first thing I grabbed.

  • ok…i LOVE this! what a great introspection…with amazing results!

    i need/want to go make one right now…ok maybe in the morning!

    thank you for sharing!

  • I love this, Jessica. We do something similar with our Holding Hands bracelet, in that when friends come together to celebrate a birthing mom, they pick beads that represent wishes for her.

    But I love the idea of a prayer strand, that facilitates instrospection. Really beautiful.

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