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Finding Peace Amidst Turmoil: How Prayer Malas Can Aid in PTSD Recovery and Anxiety Relief

Posted by Jenny Jean Almquist on

For those grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety, the journey towards healing can feel daunting and hopeless. Life with PTSD often becomes a relentless loop of overwhelming fears and discomforts. Personally, I've spent a lifetime trying to quell these intense feelings by engaging in constant activity and ruminating about gaining control and feeling safe.

However, this avoidance only perpetuates a vicious cycle. Many find themselves burnt out, often with additional diagnoses such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or autoimmune diseases. This stems in part from running as fast as possible away from fears and feelings.

According to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian healing tradition, experiences and sensory input need to be digested as if they were food taken by mouth. When PTSD occurs, it's like indigestion of overwhelming experiences.

Unfortunately, many of us haven't had a supportive foundation of loving family and friends to hold us close while we process intense experiences. Instead, we are left alone in fear and isolation, unable to digest, and thus, we experience trauma.

In my personal experience, I've found that a major antidote to this constant feeling of threat is to "feel all the feels." I realized that aside from the unknown, I was bracing against what actually IS in the moment. I was bracing against the fear, the pain, and the stress of the past and the future, tainting my experience of NOW. There's no escaping what IS, so as my son's beloved mentor taught him, "If you can't get out of it, you've got to get into it."

So, I've learned to sit with it. Initially, my goal was just one minute. Just sit for one darn minute. I sit in the flames of the fire of fear, I sit with the swirling, whirling madness of my monkey mind. I let the energy of panic, dread, and tension rise to a fever pitch. Sometimes I shake. I cry. I want to get up and do anything but sit and be here now. In fact, when I first started this practice, one minute I would be sitting on my meditation cushion, and the next thing you know, I would be at the stove cooking a meal. My body just unconsciously took over.

It's taken many, many years of practice to cultivate the ability to be still, and some days it can feel like wrestling an alligator.

An indispensable advocate for this daunting practice has been my beloved prayer mala, serving as a tool for presence and aiding with its potent energetics as a timeless talisman.

In recent years, malas have gained recognition in the mainstream for their therapeutic properties, particularly in aiding individuals coping with PTSD and anxiety.

At the heart of the prayer mala's effectiveness lies its ability to facilitate mindfulness and meditation. Each bead on the mala serves as a focal point for the mind, allowing one to anchor their attention and cultivate a sense of presence. Through rhythmic attention to the breath or repetition of prayers, mantras, or affirmations, one can sit with the intense waves of energy, digesting all that had previously overwhelmed. The mind may gradually have brief moments of quiet, and the body may release its grip.

By engaging with the prayer mala, individuals can redirect their focus away from distressing thoughts and towards a place of inner serenity. The tactile sensation of moving each bead through one's fingers can serve as a grounding technique, anchoring individuals in the present moment and providing a sense of control amidst chaos.

Furthermore, the repetitive nature of using a prayer mala can have profound effects on the nervous system, helping to regulate breathing and heart rate. This can be especially beneficial for those experiencing anxiety, as slow, deliberate belly breathing has been shown to activate the body's relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system and cultivate peace and ease.

In addition to its calming effects on the mind and body, the practice of using a prayer mala can also foster a deeper sense of connection – both with oneself and with something greater than oneself. Whether reciting traditional prayers, chanting mantras, or simply expressing words of gratitude, the act of engaging with the prayer mala can be a powerful reminder of the interconnectedness of all beings and the inherent goodness within each individual, quelling our feelings of isolation.

It's extra comforting that rudraksha seeds are believed to possess mystical properties that promote physical and emotional well-being. Each seed is adorned with intricate patterns, known as mukhis, which correspond to different aspects of consciousness. When worn or held close to the body, rudraksha seeds are said to create a protective shield against negative energies, while also fostering a deeper connection to one's inner self and the universal consciousness.

Similarly, gemstones have been cherished throughout history for their metaphysical properties and symbolic significance. From the calming energy of amethyst to the nurturing qualities of rose quartz, each gemstone is thought to possess unique attributes that can influence both physical and emotional well-being. Whether worn as jewelry or kept close in a pocket or pouch, gemstones serve as potent reminders of the inherent beauty and resilience of the human spirit.

Jenny Jean Almquist meditating on Lanikai Beach

As we navigate the challenges of PTSD, anxiety, and modern life, let us remember the wisdom of ancient traditions like Ayurveda, reminding us to employ the simplicity of prayer malas to transmute our pain with presence.

May we all find solace in the gentle rhythm of our breath, the steady movement of our fingers, and the timeless perfection of the present moment.

108 blessings, 

Jenny Jean

Anxiety comfort daily rituals Gemstones high vibes inspiration japa journey Mala mala beads malas meditation mindfulness prayer prayer beads PTSD

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