What joy to sift through piles of colorful beads looking for the ones that spoke to me.
Following the suggestion of Erik Wikstrom, I selected the requisite beads to take me through the five phases of prayerful mediation. Even the selection of the beads became a spiritual experience when I found some beautiful carved beads made by Caribbean islanders in a program designed to help them earn a living with this artwork made of found or discarded materials such as coconut husks, drift wood or animal bones. This economic alternative helps to preserve endangered sea turtles.
The large bead is for Centering, your starting point for clearing your mind and settling into a quiet time of reflection.
Next are four beads for "entering in" that I have chosen to symbolize the four native American elements of Fire, Water, Earth and Air.
The four medium-sized carved beads are the focus of the prayers, and symbolize the four kinds of prayer:
Naming, where we name the sacred and give thanks.
Knowing, where we examine our own lives and recognize where we need to change and grow.
Listening, where we enjoy a period of quiet reflection so that we can hear the prayer that is already being prayed within us.
Loving, where we reflect on those who are suffering or who are for whatever reason in our hearts at this moment and let them come fully into our consciousness.
Each of these four prayer segments are connected by five breath prayers of your own choosing.