Mindfulness Beads

Mindfulness Beads

One of our craft activities this summer was creating worry bead chains. In my preparation for the class I was fascinated by some of the history to the use of beads, so I thought I’d do a whole blog post on it!

Beads have been used historically all around the globe. They have been used as currency, in dress & jewellery and even help to establish social structures in tribal communities. Beads are also significant in a wide range of religions with reference to prayer beads found in Catholicism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism. More recently, worry beads have become more of a commercial entity but these too have strong historical routes, notably within Greek culture.

Give the beads historical significance, and how long they have existed in our cultures, it is perhaps unsurprising that one of our first reactions to picking up a bead is to start rolling it around in our hand and fingers!

In Buddhist meditation, Mala beads are traditionally used to help keep count through long chanting meditations. Each section of the Mala bead is significant; the number of beads, the ‘guru bead’, and the tassel.

The use of beads in mindfulness has been given a non-secular spin and here are a few ideas on how to use beads for children & young people’s mindfulness practice.

Making the bead string

Whilst you can buy Mala beads, I think that the task of creating the bead string can be a craft based mindfulness practice. Indeed, the task of stringing beads can be a mindful activity for children of all ages. Encourage age-appropriate mindful reflections by inviting your child to pay attention to the colours, textures and look of the string they’re making.

 

Guided breathing

You can use the beads to help you focus on the breath. Trace along the beads with your fingertips, breathe in as you touch the first bead, out as you touch the second. In with the third and out with the fourth bead etc. Use it to keep count of the breath, counting in sets of ten, as you breathe in and out. This can be done as an activity for younger children to help them learn to focus on the breath or can be used during a longer meditation practice.

Grounding

I personally love using the beads as a tool for grounding in the present as you can have a short chain anywhere about you. In that moment when you notice anxiety rising, simply holding the beads in your hands can help to provide the brain with a focus away from the worry thoughts. Hold the beads in your hand or fingers, press them so you can focus on the sensation of the connection between your body and the beads. Notice the points of connection, any sensations there – is it hot or cold, how do the beads feel in that moment? Pause and focus on this for one minute or until the feeling of panic disappears.

Meditation

As with the traditional Mala beads, bead string can be used to help focus during a formal meditation. I think that they work really well as part of a loving-kindness meditation. Simply hold the beads at your heart centre as a representation of the person or people you are bringing to mind during in the meditation.

Please do comment below with ideas on how you use your mindfulness beads.

Chartered Clinical Psychologist at | [email protected] | Website

Louise is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist specialising in Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Mindfulness. She set up Calm Strong Minds in 2017 to help families to access information and ideas on using mindfulness to develop resilience, confidence, and inner strength. Louise also works in a specialist London NHS hospital with children, young people, and their families.

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