Japa Mala Beads was founded back in 2004 by Timothy Burgin, an artist and a yogi. We caught up with him to learn more about his company, Japa Mala Beads, making mala beads in the US. Here is what he had to say:
Seattle Yoga News: How did Japa Mala Beads get started in 2004?
Timothy Burgin: When I was 23 years old I found some mala beads in an eclectic gift store in Ocean City, NJ. The tag on the beads said they were made by “Tibetan monks in a monastery,” which piqued my curiosity enough to buy them. As I continued to go deeper with my practice of yoga and meditation I eventually figured out their significance and how to use them. In 2004 I was taking a program at the Kripalu Yoga Center and my mala broke while I was walking down a hallway. While tearfully collecting the scattered beads the seed was planted for the creation of Japa Mala Beads. After searching locally and online for a new mala, I gave up in frustration and made my own. I was so happy with my results that I decided to design several other malas and start selling these online.
Seattle Yoga News: What makes the Japa Mala Beads unique?
Timothy Burgin: I’m obviously bias, but I do believe that we have the most beautiful and uniquely designed malas on the planet. Our malas are made with unusual or hard to find gemstones and our malas are made traditionally with proper tassels that are integrated in the mala’s construction (not just added on afterwards). Our years of experience of making malas allows us to know how to make our malas exceptionally durable and because of this we offer one of the best breakage guarantees in the business–108 days! We are also a very eco-friendly company. Most of our tassels are made from hemp, all of our packing and shipping materials are made from recycled materials and since 2007 we have been a carbon neutral business.
Seattle Yoga News: What is your advice to our readers when choosing mala beads?
Timothy Burgin: First off, take your time. Decide if a bracelet or full mala will be best for both japa use and wearing the mala. There is also a big difference between malas made with gemstones or wood/seed beads. Gemstone malas are heavy and cold to the touch while wood or seed malas are light, softer and warmer. It will be very helpful to get clear on the intention or reason behind purchasing the mala, as it is best to align your intentions with the energetic properties of the beads. Try not to overthink the process and let your intention guide you towards what feels best.
Seattle Yoga News: How do you pick the stones for your mala beads and what inspires the mala bead designs?
Timothy Burgin: I source our gemstone, silver and wood beads from over 35 vendors, from all around the globe, which is a time consuming process. Sometimes new mala designs will come together quickly when I find new beads, other times piles of beads will accumulate on my design desk for months before I find the right pairing for it. I’ve learned to let the design process be intuitive and magical and to not try and rush the process.
Seattle Yoga News: What is the best way to incorporate mala beads into a meditation practice?
Timothy Burgin: If you are new to using mala beads I would recommend that you start by just holding or wearing your mala while doing your regular meditation practice to get a better feeling for the energy of the beads. I would definitely recommend taking a few practice runs to get a feel for using the mala. Once you feel comfortable with the counting technique and have picked out a mantra, then it is best to commit to a 40 day practice to empower the mala beads and create a habit out of the practice.
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Published on Nov 20, 2017