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Filtering by Tag: religion

Meditating with Mala Beads

Sonali Perera

Growing up, my mom meditated with a mala every night before bedtime. Many times, me and my sister would sit with my mom and repeat mantras with our own mala. A couple weeks ago, my mom gave me the same mala I used to meditate with when I was younger. It was the Mala my Nani (Grandma) gave to me 30+ years ago! My kids started asking me about the Mala, so I sat down with my mom to learn more.

What are Mala Beads

  • Mala beads are a string of 108 beads (+ 1 Guru bead) used in prayer and meditation and as a reminder of our intentions
  • Malas are made from different gemstones, rocks or seeds. 
  • Buddhist and Hindu malas are usually made from different types of wood or seeds such as sandalwood, rosewood or rudraksha (one I am most used to). Rudraksha seeds are believed to embody peace and love and is considered a very holy and protective seed. 


  • Find a quiet and comfortable spot, close your eyes, take a deep breath and realign with your intention. 
  • I like to use a mantra during my meditation but this is optional. You can chant your mantra loudly or silently. Here are some of my favorite mantras. You can also repeat a word such as Om, love or something you are thankful for. Repeating this will help you with your concentration.
  • Hold your mala over the third finger in your right hand and turn each bead towards you using your thumb.
  • Your index finger (pointing finger) should not touch the mala beads. In Hindu tradition, the pointing finger is the accusing finger and is believed to represent ego.
  • When you reach the guru bead (bead that hangs from the mala), wait and reflect. Do not continue over the guru bead. Turn your mala around and continue in the opposite direction. 
  • Continue this practice for as long as you want to.

Diwali, the Celebration of Goddess Lakshmi

Sonali Perera

I grew up celebrating Diwali as the festival of good over evil, the festival of King Rama defeating Ravana, the Demon King. Diwali is a celebration of King Rama's defeat but it is also a holiday that honors the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi. 

Who is Goddess Lakshmi?

She is the goddess of prosperity, wealth, purity, generosity, and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. She is the wife of Lord Vishnu. Often times she is pictured as a beautiful woman standing in a lotus blossom with her four arms open and giving. She is worshipped to attain wealth, beauty and good luck. The lotus blossom stands for beauty, purity and fertility. Her four arms represent four spiritual virtues (Prosperity, Purity, Generosity, Energy). 

Goddess Lakshmi and Diwali

During Diwali, Hindus worship Goddess Lakshmi at home and pray for her blessings. It is believed that during Diwali, Goddess Lakshmi visits the homes and blesses the family and their business with with wealth and a successful year. People leave their windows and doors open so the Goddess can come in. Diyas (oil lamps) are lit so Lakshmi can find her way into your home.

The Goddess Lakshmi is the household goddess of most Hindu families, and a favorite of women. Although she is worshiped daily in most Hindu households, Diwali is Goddess Lakshmi's holiday.



    Buddhism Basics

    Sonali Perera

    I grew up Hindu, Jain and Buddhist went to a Christian school. Aspects of each religion have shaped me into the person I am today. In my recent years, I have been more drawn to Buddhism, and all it has to offer. I feel Buddhism is more of a "way of life" or philosophy. 

    What is the Buddhist philosophy?

    1. To lead a moral life
    2. To be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions
    3. To develop wisdom and understanding

    The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path make up the basic concepts of Buddhism. 

    The Four Noble Truths

    1. In life there is suffering & sorrow
    2. Suffering & sorrow are caused by people's greedy desire for power, pleasure and possessions
    3. Suffering & sorrow will end when people overcome their greed = Nirvana = enlightenment
    4. People can overcome their greed and uncontrolled desires by following the Noble Eightfold Path

    Noble Eightfold Path

    The Noble Eightfold Path is grouped into three essential elements of Buddhism

    • Wisdom through: 
      • Right understanding - understand and live the Four Noble Truths. Remove ignorance and and entanglement from life
      • Right thought - avoid desire/greed, hatred/anger and illusion/ignorance in your life
    • Practice moral conduct through:
      • Right speech - avoid all forms of abusive speech like gossip, lying, slander
      • Right action - live a life of non-violence (ahimsa), do not steal, do not harm others
      • Right livelihood - work in a job and live a life where you are not hurting others
    • Mental Discipline through:
      • Right effort - purify yourself from negative thoughts and emotions, such as anger and jealousy
      • Right mindfulness - have a body and mind awareness of the present moment. Be present. Don't be lost in daydreams, anticipation, indulgences, or worry. 
      • Right concentration - meditate to reach enlightenment. 

    In summary, Buddhism is a philosophy rather than a religion where one is not worshiping a God but is focusing on the road to enlightenment, a state of being.