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    Prayer Beads / Meditation Beads / ??

    So I'm pondering making a set of prayer beads but have come to realize that my concept of a prayer bead set is apparently somewhat different from others. I always thought of them as a tactile memory enhancer assisting the worshiper by keeping mindful of the prayer/s being recited as well as assisting in tracking repetitions but it seems there's more to it, further I'm unclear as to what, if any, difference exists between prayer beads and meditation beads?


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    Re: Prayer Beads / Meditation Beads / ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Asch View Post
    So I'm pondering making a set of prayer beads but have come to realize that my concept of a prayer bead set is apparently somewhat different from others. I always thought of them as a tactile memory enhancer assisting the worshiper by keeping mindful of the prayer/s being recited as well as assisting in tracking repetitions but it seems there's more to it, further I'm unclear as to what, if any, difference exists between prayer beads and meditation beads?
    Mala beads are used for keeping count while chanting and reciting mantra. Buddhism and Hinduism.

    Misbaha are used by Muslims to count Tasbih.

    Meditation beads might be used for counting down to your tranced state, but that's just a guess. I know some people follow their fingers through a grooved design as a meditation aid.I read it in Thea Sabin's book, I believe. Seems like it could serve an similar purpose, if it's the tactile repetition that helps.

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    Re: Prayer Beads / Meditation Beads / ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Asch View Post
    I'm unclear as to what, if any, difference exists between prayer beads and meditation beads?
    I spent some time very recently researching various kinds of prayer beads. I started from basically the same understanding about prayer beads. The only kind I was familiar with were Catholic rosaries, where the beads map to specific prayers and repetitions.

    But prayer beads can be whatever you want them to be. Many "mainstream" religions use beads in one way or another. The book Beads of Faith: Pathways to Meditation and Spirituality Using Rosaries, Prayer Beads, and Sacred Words, by Gray Henry, gives a nice overview of some of the different ways beads are used in various faiths.

    And there are a number of books that give practical instructions for how to make a set of beads. (If you're already a beader, you won't find anything in these books that is news to you, but if you haven't beaded before, they'd be very helpful.) The two I happen to have are Pagan Prayer Beads: Magic and Meditation with Pagan Rosaries, by John Michael Greer, and A String and a Prayer: How to Make and Use Prayer Beads, by Eleanor Wiley. And here's a website about pagan prayer beads that might be helpful.

    We've been talking about prayer beads in the Cill SIG. Here's part of what I posted in that thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by Aster Breo View Post
    While doing this research, I realized I had sort of locked myself into the rosary model of prayer beads. That is, I was thinking that the only way to do prayer beads was to connect them to a specific prayer or set of prayers, so each bead would link to a particular verse.

    Since then, I've started thinking differently. I'm working on a couple of designs for short sets of prayer beads that can either be worn as bracelets or simply carried as "pocket pieces". (This site has some examples of pocket pieces.) For these, I'm NOT linking them to specific prayers. Instead, each bead represents a particular idea that I want to keep in the forefront of my thoughts.

    I did a prototype to experiment with the idea (picture here). There are 9 blue glass beads, each separated by 3 small iridescent beads. There's a large labradorite pendant attached to one end (a gorgeous stone, with a really beautiful blue flash), and a silver pendant with a Brighid's cross inside a sunburst on the other end. The ends are connected by a copper clasp with a silver spiral. I've been holding it sort of circling around my hand, below my fingers, with the pendants against the inside of my fingers. That lets me use the labradorite as a sort of worry stone. So far, I really like it. It's a tangible reminder to keep Brighid in my thoughts.
    And...

    Quote Originally Posted by Aster Breo View Post
    As I mentioned upthread, I've been thinking about a couple of designs. One is the very simple "mindfulness" design I used for the prototype.

    Another design is one I've been working on with a friend, and I now have her permission to share it. So, in case anyone is interested, here's what I came up with for a short set of beads in honor of Brighid

    Nine primary beads:

    * 4 beads for Her "occupational associations" -- healing, poetry, smithcraft, and social justice/advocacy

    * 2 beads for Her "elemental associations" -- fire/sun and water

    * 2 beads for the Mysteries She has shown us (in the case of the set I'm making with my friend, we're using the Mysteries of Fire in Water and Lady of the Stars/Creatrix)

    * 1 bead for our individual "personal associations" -- in my case, that's probably something to do with the harp, maybe something like "Brighid the Harpist." We'll have to either share our personal associations, so whoever makes each person's beads can include something relevant to that person or figure out a group association, or something like that.

    Spacers can be small or large, single or multiple.

    I'm planning to use simple glass beads, primarily because they're relatively inexpensive, and because I like the "Fire in Water" symbolism of glass. But we can decide that as a group, or leave the choice of materials up to the individuals making each set.

    To finish this design, I'm planning a small silver (or other metal) ring on each end. The size of the rings can make the strings longer or shorter. Assuming we want to be able to wear them as bracelets, we can adapt the number and size of the spacer beads, as well as the size of the end rings, to accommodate people's wrist sizes. The rings can then be connected using a simple S-hook or any other kind of clasp.

    We could adapt this design to make a longer string that could be worn as a necklace.

    We can also attach charms or amulets to one or both end rings, like I did with my prototype.
    At this point, I've been carrying my "prototype" set for a few weeks, I guess. Here's another pic, and one more, just to show clearly how I usually hold them. I'm finding that this very simple string of beads is an incredibly powerful reminder.

    I'm hoping to finish the set described in the second quote above, maybe even tomorrow. I have all the beads ready -- I'm just waiting for a day when my eyes will cooperate.

    Anyway, I hope this is helpful.

    ~ Aster
    Last edited by SunflowerP; 6 Nov 2011 at 04:31 AM. Reason: fixing a link
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    Re: Prayer Beads / Meditation Beads / ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Aster Breo View Post
    I spent some time very recently researching various kinds of prayer beads. I started from basically the same understanding about prayer beads. The only kind I was familiar with were Catholic rosaries, where the beads map to specific prayers and repetitions.

    But prayer beads can be whatever you want them to be. Many "mainstream" religions use beads in one way or another. The book Beads of Faith: Pathways to Meditation and Spirituality Using Rosaries, Prayer Beads, and Sacred Words, by Gray Henry, gives a nice overview of some of the different ways beads are used in various faiths.

    And there are a number of books that give practical instructions for how to make a set of beads. (If you're already a beader, you won't find anything in these books that is news to you, but if you haven't beaded before, they'd be very helpful.) The two I happen to have are Pagan Prayer Beads: Magic and Meditation with Pagan Rosaries, by John Michael Greer, and A String and a Prayer: How to Make and Use Prayer Beads, by Eleanor Wiley. And here's a website about pagan prayer beads that might be helpful.

    We've been talking about prayer beads in the Cill SIG. Here's part of what I posted in that thread:



    And...



    At this point, I've been carrying my "prototype" set for a few weeks, I guess. Here's another pic, and one more, just to show clearly how I usually hold them. I'm finding that this very simple string of beads is an incredibly powerful reminder.

    I'm hoping to finish the set described in the second quote above, maybe even tomorrow. I have all the beads ready -- I'm just waiting for a day when my eyes will cooperate.

    Anyway, I hope this is helpful.

    ~ Aster
    Ah thank you kindly for the detailed reply and multiple references I may swing by an excellent local bead shop tomorrow and see what's what. They're a bit pricey but actually have stone beads available.

    (I'll likely do a more detailed response to this tomorrow or later but it's almost midnight locally and I have two papers to write... sooo but wanted to respond and thank you :D)

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    Re: Prayer Beads / Meditation Beads / ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Asch View Post
    Ah thank you kindly for the detailed reply and multiple references I may swing by an excellent local bead shop tomorrow and see what's what. They're a bit pricey but actually have stone beads available.
    You're very welcome. I like beading, so I like talking about beading.

    Before you drop any money in the bead store, check around online. I've been able to find really fantastic beads of all kinds online at significantly lower prices.

    OTOH, for prayer beads, there is something about connecting with them "tactilely" that's very important.
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    Re: Prayer Beads / Meditation Beads / ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Aster Breo View Post
    You're very welcome. I like beading, so I like talking about beading.

    Before you drop any money in the bead store, check around online. I've been able to find really fantastic beads of all kinds online at significantly lower prices.

    OTOH, for prayer beads, there is something about connecting with them "tactilely" that's very important.
    Yeah I've looked online and at the whatchamacallit fire mountain gems? Which has been rec'd to me by a friend but I have a discount card for the local, also it's local and small so I feel compelled to check it out first

    The website you linked has been particularly helpful as far as the practical considerations and functional aspects of prayer beads / using them goes

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    Re: Prayer Beads / Meditation Beads / ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Asch View Post
    Yeah I've looked online and at the whatchamacallit fire mountain gems? Which has been rec'd to me by a friend but I have a discount card for the local, also it's local and small so I feel compelled to check it out first
    I understand. There's a small bead store in my area, too, and I've bought a lot (too much, really ) from them.

    For online stores, Fire Mountain is OK, but be sure to read the descriptions carefully so you're clear on the size and other characteristics. Keep an eye out for dye and other treatments, if you're like me and prefer your stones in their natural state.

    I've also had good luck with Happy Mango Beads (they have an interesting variety of beads and other stuff, including prayer beads), Lima Beads, and Beads on Sale. And, of course, there are tons more sites that sell beads.

    If you pick up anything interesting at the store, post pics!
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    Re: Prayer Beads / Meditation Beads / ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Asch View Post
    further I'm unclear as to what, if any, difference exists between prayer beads and meditation beads?
    As it happens I've been looking into this recently myself. Having been raised Catholic I was relatively familiar with the rosary but it didn't quite fit the feel of what I was looking for. I wanted a tactile means to focus my chant as well as a touchstone to trigger the same mindset throughout the day. While a rosary would fit those parameters I didn't want to hijack another faiths tool and shoehorn my own meanings to it.

    So, I settled on creating my own design. There's a chant that is offered in the Twenty-one Lessons of Merlyn that I like. I'll readily admit that the book is not exactly - um, scholarly? - but this technique worked pretty well for me. The chant is pretty simple - Eee, Ah, Oh. One sound on the exhalation of each breath and the fourth breath is a blend of all three sounds. In some ways I've found it works much like the Om sound. Honestly, I think that the focused deep breathing with sound is the real workhorse here. So, I thought that creating a set of prayer beads based on this chant would work.

    I'm still working on the design, it's going to be a trilogy of trilogies. I'll be using the Celtic view of Land, Sea and Sky, that's the base trilogy. Within each element I'll place a trilogy of the chant. The concept is solid and feels right to me, the only aspect I need to work on now is the actual design layout and for that I need supplies.

    What feels right at this point is a more organic approach - wooden beads of varying size and color with glass beads to set off each element. I'm considering a knotted or woven cord of hemp for stringing everything on, my only concern is that I've read hemp breaks down over time.

    During my exploration and research into prayer beads I came across a couple of other ideas - komboloi and begleri. They're Greek worry beads. They work much like a worry stone in that it gives you something to handle at any given time. The beads on a komboloi aren't static they can slide along the string. The sounds and movement of the komboloi are quite soothing. The begleri, as I understand it, is derived from the komboloi. One of the techniques in using the komboloi is to split the beads into two groups and move them to opposite ends of the loop. The whole thing can then be spun and twirled in the hand and through the fingers. The begleri has only two beads at opposite ends of an approximately six inch long string. It's supposed to be easier to spin and twirl. Personally, I find the komboloi easier to work with. Just don't drop your strand of glass beads on a tile floor. You can check youtube for videos of komboloi and begleri.
    Last edited by Oaksworn; 7 Nov 2011 at 10:04 PM. Reason: Sorry, somehow the quote disappeared on me...

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    Re: Prayer Beads / Meditation Beads / ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Aster Breo View Post
    I spent some time very recently researching various kinds of prayer beads. I started from basically the same understanding about prayer beads. The only kind I was familiar with were Catholic rosaries, where the beads map to specific prayers and repetitions.

    But prayer beads can be whatever you want them to be. Many "mainstream" religions use beads in one way or another. The book Beads of Faith: Pathways to Meditation and Spirituality Using Rosaries, Prayer Beads, and Sacred Words, by Gray Henry, gives a nice overview of some of the different ways beads are used in various faiths.

    And there are a number of books that give practical instructions for how to make a set of beads. (If you're already a beader, you won't find anything in these books that is news to you, but if you haven't beaded before, they'd be very helpful.) The two I happen to have are Pagan Prayer Beads: Magic and Meditation with Pagan Rosaries, by John Michael Greer, and A String and a Prayer: How to Make and Use Prayer Beads, by Eleanor Wiley. And here's a website about pagan prayer beads that might be helpful.

    We've been talking about prayer beads in the Cill SIG. Here's part of what I posted in that thread
    Thanks Aster! I've been wondering about the differences between prayer/mediation beads for a while too. The websites and pictures you posted have given me plenty of inspiration.

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    Re: Prayer Beads / Meditation Beads / ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Oaksworn View Post
    What feels right at this point is a more organic approach - wooden beads of varying size and color with glass beads to set off each element. I'm considering a knotted or woven cord of hemp for stringing everything on, my only concern is that I've read hemp breaks down over time.
    Maybe a fine linen thread would work better, Oaksworn. It's unbelievably durable.

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