Staying Grounded - My Adventures in Creating Malas and Essential Oil Blends

This article is written by Emily, a graduate of the YW's In Her Shoes Youth Employment Training Program.  She has launched her own business and is volunteering as well.

In these times of trouble, it is so important to remain calm, grounded and anxiety free. One way for me to do this is to work on my jewelry hobby, as I find beading to be a very soothing activity. I am going through a stage with my jewelry where my creations are pretty good, but not quite what people are looking for. Sometimes I find inspiration on Etsy. I bought my first mala on Etsy, it was all in white with a white angel wing. It is a protection mala which calls on the guidance of my archangels. It is made out of magnesite which opens the heart chakra and invites the energy of unconditional love. It is this mala that inspired me to start creating my own malas. 

Right before physical distancing at home took over, I went to a workshop at a local bead shop where I learned how to string a mala. A mala is a prayer necklace designed for meditation. They are a current trend in wearable yoga accessories. However a mala is an ancient piece of religious jewelry that has its earliest known depictions of being used in the 4th century. It is made with gemstones that have healing properties.  I’ve made 2 malas in total, as I found the skills to be easily transferable. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 the bead shop has now closed and purchases can only be made online, so I am now just using what I have here at home. All mala necklaces are made of 108 beads (a sacred number in Hinduism) plus a guru bead.


A mala takes on your energies and your prayers, becoming what you want it to be. The mala I made for myself was infused with my prayers and good thoughts when I made it. Here in this picture is my mala on the left, and the one I made for my mom on the right.


The materials commonly used in making a mala are: nylon string, some beeswax for the string,  a bendy needle, 2 strands of 6mm semi-precious beads, a guru bead, a silk tassel  and some station beads. In addition I used an extra large agate bead with a big hole to hang above the tassel as I wished to have a personalized touch.

Here is a Diagram of how to make a mala: 

 How to Use Mala Beads for Meditation

  1. Choose a spot and sit comfortably with your spine straight and your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths to center and align yourself with your intention.
  2. If you have one, use a mantra for this practice, chanting aloud or silently.
  3. Hold your mala in your right hand, draped between your middle and index fingers. Starting at the guru bead, use your thumb to count each smaller bead, pulling it toward you as you recite your mantra. Do this 108 times, traveling around the mala, until you once again reach the guru bead.
  4. If you want to continue the meditation, instead of passing over the guru bead, simply reverse direction and begin again.

I have also been learning about essential oils. I recently discovered world re-knowned Aromatherapist Robert Tisserand and his literature about essential oils. Essential oils are extremely concentrated and can be dangerous if not used properly. When properly diluted and applied to various spots of the body, essential oils enter your bloodstream and have potent healing effects. I have added a few quality unadulterated oils to my collection and am currently creating my own blends for friends and family (to give when I see them again). 

I feel so much gratitude during this time to still be working with In Her Shoes, to have my nifty little chromebook, and to have my internet connection. I hope and pray that others can find small things to be grateful for and immerse themselves in hobbies to take their mind off of the frightening and depressing news. If you have questions about making a mala of your own, please email me at Thank you if you are reading this while at home and please know that you are making a difference!

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