My mum and I share the practice of sending rainbows. In her recovery from breast cancer, she had come across the writing of Petrea King and as we lived hundreds of kms apart, we used the image ourselves. We would imagine the qualities we wanted to share – courage, strength, resilience, healing etc – being beamed across a vibrant and beautiful rainbow that extended between each of us. From heart to heart. I still use this image when I meditate and am sending love to someone in times of pain and stress. At the very least it gave a a sense of I just made a difference, rather than I just felt helpless and powerless.
The other day I was running. Reluctantly and mechanically. Reminding myself grimly that, for me, running is part of making good art. Slowly, I stopped my internal joyless monologue and became aware of the magical morning sky, the vast open landscape around me, my legs moving well enough to get me home, my nostrils clear. It occurred to me that on at least two occasions in the past 7 years I had thought I’d farewelled my running days for ever. I am grateful I can run at all.
As I ran, thinking about some beloved friends, a very clear image of meditation beads, a mala, emerged. Malas are used in a number of religious traditions and the one I was imagining was a sending rainbows mala. 108* beads to help focus a busy mind, to link to a mindful breath. And in case that mind persisted in wandering (as mine does) 11 different beads, each with a special (very personal) meaning, to draw the mind back to the breath.
A turquoise coloured bird: a symbol of joy;
A faux ivory feather: a reminder to hold things lightly, with openness;
A coral coloured heart: symbolising compassion and love;
An open hand: a symbol of healing, creativity and connection;
A lotus blossom: something beautiful that grows from muddy places;
A spiral: a traditional symbol for energy;
A leaf: symbolising growth and renewal;
A cloud: aaah…my precious clouds…symbolising acceptance, equanimity and wisdom; and that all things pass;
A faux ivory knife: clarity and the capacity to make wise choices; and
A small brass Nepali bell: a reminder to listen, to heed.
Most meditation malas have a large bead called a guru bead or parent bead and for each, I used a lapis teardrop bead I bought over 30 years ago in Nepal. For me they are special like the people I am making the malas for. They also love Nepal.
And with these rainbows, I send love. I will make more.
*108 is a traditional number and there are all sorts of reasons given. I like (being the ace mathematician that I am – ROFL) the fact that it is a harshad number – an integer divisible by the sum of its digits. In Sanskrit, harshad means joy. Nice.