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Creativity through Recovery- Malas

So I’m officially 10 weeks post my final surgery.  The last recovery was more difficult than I expected, and I found a surprising new outlet for meditation and inspiration. This, in turn, has been a huge help for me in taking the step back into my creative life.

This journey..  from the moment we left for the ER with my abdominal pain, to right now, is pretty much 22 months. (22 months, 5 days to be exact).   My well planned future-  what I had invested so much into creating… was no longer going to be as I had planned.

Being sick took my road and threw me a detour.  I was thrown into this place of chaos- far from my lists and plans. Not only was there no “normal”.. there was no way to anticipate and prepare for what was to come.   It took my “healthy weight loss” and tipped the scale to the other extreme, forcing me to view myself in ways I never have. It left me with scars that erase the image I had for what my body would look like when I “reached my goal” .   Losing the control that I have always created for my life created anxiety I have never experienced. At times it was crippling.  I found myself bursting into tears at Duke Hospital the first time I was back on the floor I was on when I was there with sepsis, or when the oven timer went off because in the moment it sounded like the IV alarm beeping.  I also had mean, horrible thoughts about my body, the scars, being sick and broken.

img_4782Meditation has helped with that anxiety, and those feelings of being broken.  I wrote about how I use weaving and spinning as one of my ways of creative meditation.   Fiber art has a way of letting me work out my feelings and anxieties without figuring out how to put it into words. It takes my mind away from trying to “figure it all out”

What has been so difficult is “retraining” my brain.. changing the negative thoughts to positive ones, and claiming my body now as beautiful and not broken.   These toxic thoughts eat away at my recovery, they destroy my self-confidence and tear holes in my self-worth. They creep in, when I’m feeling the best,  to bring me down to where they think I belong.   Sadly, even in the most blissful meditative weaving session, I can still look down and think “This is horrible, I’ve lost my creative flow”  even when the entire point of the weaving session is there IS no judgement.. no horrible or good… just weaving.

img_5131What I have found DOES help is mantra meditation. Every time I have a negative thought about my body, being broken.. anything..  I replace it with a positive affirmation.  Then I make myself say it to myself 108 times using a Mala.
Malas have been used in Buddhism and Hinduism for centuries.  I originally was given one by a dear friend that was made of citrine to stimulate my sacral chakra, where the all my medical trauma was located. When I received it, I found the energy powerful and I did a bit of research on the best way to use it within meditation (other than just wear it). The traditional way of repeating an affirmation or mantra with each bead, was very helpful for me. It kept my mind to the affirmations, rather than letting outside thoughts wander in. It also kept me accountable to the repetitions.   I collected a few more, made by other artists with other gemstones that had energies that supported my intentions.

img_4617At some point, one of my malas broke. The tradition is that when a mala breaks, the a cycle ends. That energy or intention has come to a place where it’s no longer needed, or the time is to let it go.  Those beads are to be either gathered and put on an altar, or to be reused as something else.  I thought I could pay someone to re-string them into a new something.. or I could do it myself.  Even though I was sick.. I am an artist. I am an energy worker. I am an empath with high intuition and sensitivity.  None of that changed.. So I gathered some other gemstone beads and sat to knot a new mala.  I found the process not only peaceful, but it brought a lot of joy.

img_4300I found serenity in making the mala, as much as I did in using it..   Each knot between the stones was a chance for another repetition of an affirmation to bring specific intention or focus. Designing the stone placement tickled my love of color and texture.   I used stones of different textures, rather than all smooth, so that through my meditation it was a reminder that no matter what was happening “in the moment”.. no matter what texture I was feeling, that my affirmation stayed strong and true.

I was so happy with my mala, the energy was powerful and pure.  I posted a photo on Instagram… And with that, the requests for custom malas came.  And so I made. Making malas offered me a new opportunity to use my creativity and intuition, during a time I was afraid I had lost both. When I couldn’t create in the ways I knew, it showed me a new way.  It helped me feel whole again.    It complemented my choice to join yoga teacher training, and supported this new path.

img_4684I am now making malas- using gemstones, attuned to different affirmations and intentions.  I’m taking  custom order and working on listing them on the website for order.  All the photos here are of malas I have made over these past months.  If you would like to start the process of having me create a custom mala for you, drop me a line via the Connect page and I’ll get back to you with the starter info.  Please make sure you mention custom mala in the comment box.  You can also follow me on Instagram @Wovenheartmalas.  This is where I post the first photos of available malas, and you can message me to purchase.

LET ME BE CLEAR– There will STILL BE FIBER AND HANDSPUN YARN!!  (just want to reinforce that!!) For all my fiber friends, fear not!! My creative mojo is back in full force and I’m back at my wheel. Dyepots are in the works and there will be dyed locks, batts and lots of handspun yarn!! I will be at SAFF and will have a couple big ETSY updates!!  I even have some amazing new SAORI woven garments that will be listed for sale and at SAFF!! Be sure to join my mailing list and FB page for advance notice of the online updates!! I just now have a new outlet for creation, and I even have some ideas on merging my malas and fiber art.. so that is in the planning stages…

In the meantime.. I hope your days are full of more sunshine than rain. I hope you get a chance to hug someone you love, and  I hope you get to enjoy a few moments of silence before the chaos of the day begins.
Thank you for being a part of my journey, wherever it leads.

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. What a beautiful post, Esther. It’s been so….. I don’t have the right word- powerful, inspiring and gut-wrenching coming on this path with you as a supporter. You never cease to amaze me – your strength, vulnerability and honesty are beyond impressive. You were someone I admired just from the fiber side of life. A role model , A hero. But now? No words. I hope I never am in a situation as dire and serious as yours, but if it happens, I would be doing well to deal with it with half the grace and guts you did. Namaste, my friend. Sending you love and light every day.

    July 10, 2018

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