A mala is a string of with a varying number of beads with one central or terminal bead. It is a tool used to keep your mind on your meditation practice. Malas are generally made from different materials such as tulsi (basil) wood, sandal wood, rudraksh seeds, rosewood, or crystal to name a few. Each type of material has certain properties which subtly affect the subconscious mind of the practitioner.
Meditation can be quite a tricky practice because the mind is like a naughty child. By its very nature, the mind tends to wander off during the meditation practice. If one’s energy is low at the time of meditation, falling asleep can result. If the energy is too high, fantasy and distraction become the barriers. At such times, the mala provides the much needed anchor. The mala beads are moved in rhythm with the breath and the mantra, so that both-sleep as well as excessive mental distraction-are prevented by this action upon the beads. A personal mala is a wonderful accessory to meditation, which when used regularly with a personal mantra, absorbs the vibrations of the practice. It becomes like a close friend or a comfortable piece of clothing.
There are different ways to “tell the beads” depending on your tradition, be it Tibetan, Buddhist or some other way. In general, the practice begins at the larger or terminal bead and continues around the loop until that bead is reached again. That bead is never passed over. So if you plan to do more than one round, the mala is turned around to proceed again in the reverse direction. After a while of practicing your meditation with a mala, whenever it is taken up, it automatically conditions the mind to the meditative state.
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Tibetan Nuns Project
Tibetan Nuns Project (TNP) was founded in 1987 to provide education and humanitarian aid to refugee nuns from Tibet and the Himalayan regions of India. Tibetan Nuns Project began when a group of 66 nuns appeared in Dharamsala, India. The 66 women had walked across the Himalayas from eastern Tibet to His Holiness the Dalai Lama's newly adopted homeland in northern India. They knew no one and were exhausted and ill. They wearily camped out in downtown Dharmsala, hope their long journey was near the end.
The Tibetan community immediately responded: Tibetan Women's Association organized emergency assistance to provide their basic needs and the Tibetan Nuns Project was born. Working with the Tibetan Women's Association and the Tibetan Government in Exile Department of Religion and Culture of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, TNP sought to finding a long-term solution to the problem of how to secure housing, medical care and most importantly, education for refugee nuns. A sponsorship program was created that continues to generate worldwide support.
Today, TNP sponsors over 650 nuns. TNP has established two nunneries [Shugsep and Dolma Ling] and provides sponsorship support for the nuns of Geden Choeling and Tilokpur in Dharmasala. Other building and housing projects include Sherab Choeling Nunnery in LaHaul-Spiti. More room is always need for newly arrived nuns seeking aid and asylum.
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