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Habitation Co. is committed to honoring the process of living in a particular place and the journey of discovering beautiful objects that reflect the unique styles and stories of artists around the world.  Every pretty item you purchase supports creative individuals, communities, and organizations on almost every continent.

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Filtering by Tag: mala

How to Create a Simple Meditation Practice

Hailey Fynaardt

How to Create a Simple Meditation Practice // Habitation Co.

Meditation isn't new or unique to any particular culture or belief system, and it can take many forms ranging from movement to stillness, silence to singing. However, despite its role in our history, meditation rarely comes naturally to us, as we are increasingly consumed by our gadgets, commitments, and interconnectedness, it can be nearly impossible to disengage physically and mentally. But meditation has been proven to be a powerful tool for calming the mind and healing the body, and the best part is, it doesn't require any fancy tools or equipment to do it. Though if you are new to meditation or want to enhance your own practice, here are a few ideas for creating a meditation practice you enjoy:

1. Find a few minutes every day to turn off distractions and get quiet. For some people, first thing in the morning is the best time to clear their heads and prepare for the day. Perhaps you prefer to take a walk during your lunch break, or to meditate before bed. Find a time that works best for you and stay consistent. Try starting with just 10 minutes and work your way up. 

2. Keep your mind from wandering to your to-do lists, texts, emails, and other ways the world demands your attention. If writing is therapeutic for you, have a journal handy to write down a few sentences or words to focus on. If you need to physically move to focus, try yoga or walking while focusing simply on your breath or a prayer.

3. Use a few simple props to enhance your practice and trigger your senses into "meditation mode". This could be aromatic through the use of a candle or essential oils, taste through your favorite cup of tea, audibly through a simple bell chime blowing in the wind, or something you wear- such as a mala bead necklace that serves as a physical reminder of your intention. As you practice meditation, your mind will begin to associate these triggers with "quiet time" and will help you focus for those few precious moments. 

4. Breathe. Perhaps the most powerful meditation tool we have is entirely within us, our breath. By consciously slowing down and deepening our breath, we create physical space inside our bodies to clear away tension, stress, and stale energy. The best part is if you find yourself in need of a few moments of meditation while at work, on the road, or even in the shower- all you need to do is tune into your breath for a minute or two and take long, steady inhales and exhales. As you inhale, imagine filling your body up with oxygen, light, and a cooling sensation, and as you exhale, release the warm, old air and anything that no longer serves you. Breathing is the foundation of all physical movement and what sustains us subconsciously every day of our lives.


 

 

 

About the Process: Handmade Malas From The Himalayas // Habitation Co.

Hailey Fynaardt

About the Process: Handmade Malas From The Himalayas // Habitation Co.

It seems like everywhere you turn these days someone is sharing a new tool or concept for helping us stay focused throughout our days. From day planners to devotionals, essential oils to e-courses... focus seems to be at the front of everyone's minds and being "more mindful" is on everyone's list of New Year's resolutions. 

Remember the old ClipArt graphic of an idex finger with a tiny bow tied around it? This was the universal symbol for "needing to remember something important", inspired by the odd physical act of tying a string around your finger to serve as a visual reminder, that I'm assuming people did before pencils, or iPhones, or whatever. But whether it was a reminder to pray for a loved one, make a doctor's appointment, or to not act on an old habit, every time you saw the string, you were reminded of that thing. 

While there are many tools we can use today to help us remember important things, by far the most beautiful I have seen are the prayer beads known as "malas", traditionally worn around the neck or wrapped around one's wrist. Historically, the beads themselves were blessed by monks in remote villages along the Himalayan Mountain range, and presented to their wearer as a tangible reminder of a specific idea or meditation such as "patience", "forgiveness", or "peace". Today, they have become popular accessories in yoga communities and for individuals simply wanting to wear a tangible reminder of their intentions and desires. Similar to rosary beads, the idea behind a mala is that as each bead is passed through one's fingers, a prayer or mantra is repeated until you reach the beginning. 

Not only do I love the cultural and historical significance of malas, I also think they happen to be absolutely beautiful both as personal accessories and home decor, so when my friend Lisa approached me with the idea of carrying her newly designed mala bead necklaces in the shop, I was beyond excited! They are simple but stunning, all one-of-a-kind, and made of aromatic sandalwood, natural beads, and semi-precious gemstones. Read more about these new beauties below, and head over to the shop to pick out one that speaks to you!


Almost a year ago, I had the immense pleasure of visiting India for the first time, and while the country itself was vibrant, thrilling, and wild beyond my greatest expectations, I was also able to meet and travel alongside some of the most incredible women I have ever met. One of those women, Lisa Kumari-Conlon, also happened to be responsible for coordinating the logistics of the trip – like where we slept, ate, and could each spend a small fortune on the very best souvenirs.

image via AboveTheClouds  I mean, really, did you expect me to not instantly befriend this woman?

image via AboveTheClouds

I mean, really, did you expect me to not instantly befriend this woman?

Lisa’s dad, Steve, founded Above the Clouds, a boutique travel agency, in 1982 and spent the following three decades growing it into a premier resource for adventure travel to Southern Asia, India, and South America. In 2013, Lisa took over the day-to-day operations of ATC and has since expanded to include Tales From Above The Clouds- a thoughtful collection of handmade, sustainable, and ethically- sourced jewelry and accessories, including our new one-of-a-kind Mala Bead necklaces.

image via AboveTheClouds  Lisa, making trekking look good since 1990. 

image via AboveTheClouds

Lisa, making trekking look good since 1990. 

Each of these malas has been lovingly assembled by hand in the USA with beads and semi-precious gemstones acquired along the trails of the Himalayas and in parts of Indonesia, during Lisa’s many treks and visits over the past few years. All of the beads used in these necklaces have been repurposed from old malas that were given as gifts or found in the rural monastic communities throughout the region.

About the Process: Handmade Malas From The Himalayas // Habitation Co.

Nomadic tribes have a long history of trading precious and semi-precious stones along their herding paths across the great Tibetan Plateau that stretches from Western China to Kashmir, India. Today, bead and jewelry making is still a vibrant part of their ancestor’s culture and a way of life for many people in that part of the world.

image via circleofblue

image via circleofblue

Traditional malas have 108 beads denoting the auspicious belief found in Hindu and Buddhist beliefs that are indigenous to Eastern and Southern Asia. Our malas feature unique patterns of aromatic sandalwood, rudraksha, raktu, and lotus beads, with turquoise, malachite, and lapis gemstones. The plush tassels add movement and playfulness, reminding the wearer to not be weighed down by the world.

image via AboveTheClouds

image via AboveTheClouds

While mala beads have been used historically in Buddhist and Hindu traditions, they are becoming popular tools for prayer and meditation in a variety of beliefs. Although they are designed to be worn around the neck or wrapped around a wrist, we think our malas look just as beautiful as decorative objects, whether hung on a wall or displayed on a shelf or tabletop!

image via AboveTheClouds

image via AboveTheClouds

Shop Our Collection of Handmade Malas: