The Paradox

Emotions creep in at the most unexpected times. I dropped my girl off at her adult day program today and then had the most needed and lovely conversation with a dear friend. We covered a lot of terrain in our very honest conversation about pain, anger, disappointment, family, and the world. Although we did not solve any of these problems, it gave my heart peace knowing that I have someone amazing in my corner that gets it.

It is funny how this time of year always brings a set of emotions that range from grief to gratitude, and everything in between.  This time of year is a reminder of the death of many things, including people and dreams. This year especially I am finding myself even more in need for solitude as I navigate the sea of feelings that I seem to be experiencing.

I think back to a time two years ago when I witnessed the most beautiful moment as my sweet grand-baby took her first breath.  It was truly magical.  Within days of being consumed with a love I did not know existed, I learned of a couple sweet souls I had known in my work who took their very last breath. I was reminded again that within those two important breaths, life offers so much joy and an often an equal amount of pain. Ultimately it is what we do with both that makes our life have meaning.

Twenty seven years ago I lost a dream and gained a purpose. While on one hand having a child with a disability has been one of the hardest things I have done, it is also the source of my direction. So the paradox is one that I allow my mind to explore.

It is usually around my daughters birthday that I allow myself to ask the “what ifs”; what if she was typical, what if she was graduating college, what if she was getting married, what if she was having a baby, etc.  On the flip side of those questions I look at who she is and what she has given me; purpose, direction, unconditional love, simplicity, and a divine plan. I find myself asking those same questions recently as I witness friend’s daughters experiencing those major life events and my heart is conflicted with a tinge of jealousy and grief alongside genuine happiness to see their joy.

That is the death of a dream for me. And yet, I am grateful for the simplicity of my life with my daughter. These conflicting emotions seem to be evident in so many areas of life recently.

This paradox of life and death, grief and gratitude, loss and gain, joy and pain always finds me to be remarkable.  I suppose it is just like everything in life–temporary.  So that breath I just took in, I must also be let go.

And so is life.

I have decided yet again that the space between the first and the last is truly where LIFE exists–love, magic, connection, acceptance, passion and purpose. So, we must learn to lean into the joys and the pains because it is just part of what is.

I am incredibly grateful that I have had time along a trail and in the trees to figure all this out and makes sense and peace with what is.  What I have come to know is that all things happen as they should and it is a choice as to what I do with it.

Today, I choose gratitude for being given the gift of my girl. I choose gratitude for the friends that I have. I choose gratitude for nature to always ground me.

Most important today, I choose to remain aware of the space between the first and the last and commit to making my life the best it can be. Always.

How to Use Mala Beads

Whether you’re just starting a meditation practice, or you’re an advanced practitioner, Mala beads are a great tool to help focus your attention. They provide this amazing tactile sensation to come back to when your mind starts to wander.

Rolling the beads through your fingers is a physical way to direct your energy and attention back to the present moment. It’s a gentle reminder every few seconds to reground and refocus.

Here are some simple ‘how to’ steps for incorporating Mala Beads into your meditation practice:

  • If this is your first time using a Mala, start by holding it out in front of you.  The tassel represents an end point — signifying you’ve gone all the way around the Mala for a full cycle of meditation. Between the tassel and necklace loop, there is one single bead, called the guru bead.  There are 108 beads in the necklace loop.
  • Now, start with the necklace in your dominant hand, tassel facing towards you
  • Start with the bead to the right of the guru bead
  • Begin turning each bead individually in your fingers, making your way slowly to the next bead
  • When turning the beads, try not to use the index finger as that is believed to represent the ego.
  • Try using your thumb to turn the beads. You can use your thumb nail to pull the bead towards you. Or you can use your thumb to rotate the bead by turning it and moving to the next.
  • You will notice there is hand knotting between each bead, this is meant to help ease the practice of moving from bead to bead.

Do you feel have the hang of it? If you are comfortable try adding some breath work.

  • On each bead, take a deep inhale and exhale. Then move to the next bead. Deep inhale and exhale.

Once you have the breathing down, you can layer in mantra. 

  • On each bead, along with your breath, try silently repeating your mantra to yourself
  • For the sake of this, we will use an affirmation based mantra, which is an “I Am statement”
  • On each bead, inhale “I Am” and exhale a word that embodies how you want to feel in that moment. It can be abundant, strong, patient, intuitive, etc.
  • Inhale “I Am” and exhale your word on each bead
  • You can also simply use one word such as grounded, or love
  • Once you have made it around 108 beads, you will reach the guru bead
  • The guru bead signifies a moment to pause and sit in reflection. Here, you can thank and honor your guru, your mantra, and yourself for taking the time to sit in stillness.

Congrats! This signifies a full practice! 


What did you notice in this practice? What came up for you? One thing is guaranteed —  your mind will wander. When it does, simply return to the beads.

When your mind wanders, you have the choice to judge yourself and think things like “I’m the worst meditator, I’m never going to get the hang of this.”  These statement only keep you in a place of self judgement and are not useful.

Or, you can acknowledge you’ve had some thoughts, let them go, and return your focus to your Mala beads, your breath and your mantra.

You’ll be challenged consistently in your practice with a wandering mind. It doesn’t mean your a bad meditator — it just means you’re human.

Meditation isn’t about eliminating the thoughts. Rather, it’s about creating space between them, allowing yourself the room to connect to your higher self.

Your mala is a beautiful guide on that journey to the inner self. But remember, like most things it’s a practice.  Make a decision at the beginning of each practice to not judge yourself when your mind wanders. Instead, treat yourself with patience, grace, and love — as you would anyone else.

Check out this video to learn more.