Asian Heritage Month: Tibetan Meditation and Mala Beads

Asian Heritage Month:

Tibetan Meditation

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Tibetan Chi Kung meditation or Qi Gong began by ancient societies in the mountains of Tibet which were influenced by Chinese martial arts and Indian yogic practices.

Tibetan Chi Kung incorporates many different schools of Chinese martial arts and is particularly dependent on visualization and the circulation of the breath.

It is practiced not only for health, but for spiritual purposes and does not arise from Tibetan Buddhism as expected, but from an older, nature-based religion.

In Tibetan Chi Kung, intuition is classified as receiving a thought about a situation or a person, and empathy is classified as having a somatic sensation in the body about a person or situation.

It is linked to the practice of an internal martial art called Lin Con Ji or Empty Force, which is a process where an Empty Force/Chi Kung master directs and manipulates energy to transmit to his students, allowing them to raise their level of energy. Various exercises combined with the teacher’s presence and intention to transmit energy cause this to happen.

 Tibetan priests are called Lamas, and many of them also learned martial arts. Because of the different cultural background, not only are the Lama’s meditation techniques different from those of the Chinese or Indian Buddhists, but their martial techniques are also different. Tibetan Qigong Meditation and martial arts were kept secret from the outside world, and were therefore called Mi Zong, with means secret style and emphasizes spiritual cultivation through still meditation.

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Malas

Malas are mainly used to count mantras that can be recited for different purposes. In Tibetan Buddhism, malas traditionally consist of 108 beads. Doing one 108-bead mala counts as 100 mantra recitations where the extra repetitions are done to amend for any mistakes.

The material used to make the beads can vary according to the purpose of the mantras used. Some beads can be used for all purposes and can be made from the wood of the Bodhi tree or from Bodhi seeds. Another general-purpose mala is made from an unknown seed, the beads called Moon and Stars by Tibetans, and sometimes referred to as lotus root, lotus seed or linden nut.

Lotus seed mala

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I am truly humbled by the Tibetan spirit and in my search to better understand a part of the Tibetan culture, I studied a little about Buddhist meditation and searched for my own mala beads.

In doing so, I discovered I wanted to be able to make them personally for myself and others.

Here are some of the mala beads I have created in honour of the Tibetan people, their struggle for religious freedom, and in support of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

The black onyx stone can help to release negative emotions such as sorrow and grief and used to end unhealthy relationships. It has protective properties. since black has an absence of light and known to create invisibility. – Mala beads created by (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.
Picture Jasper’s grounding energy can give you a strong sense of who you are. It is said to encourage creative visualisation and creativity. – (c) Mala beads created by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.
Coral symbolizes life and blood force energy. It is used as an aid to depression, lethargy or deficient nutrition. – Mala beads created by (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.
Mala beads created by (c) Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez.

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Here is the space I created for myself for quiet meditation:

(c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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To learn how to make your own set of mala beads, here is a video clip lesson found on YouTube.

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To read more posts for the Asian Heritage Month Blog Event, please visit here.

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If you are a practicing Buddhist, what is the mantra you use the most during your meditation?

Have you ever made your own personal mala beads?

What are your mala beads made of? If you don’t yet own mala beads, what kind of beads would you most likely want to use?

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My name in Tibetan.
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