I had flirted with Buddhism throughout college: becoming vegetarian, reading, going to local meditation groups and “temples.” Yet, it wasn’t until I lived in India that it got serious.
I began regular classes and going on pilgrimages. I visited beautiful temples and even sat where the original Buddha achieved enlightenment. During these trips, I would collect a mala, or spiritual beads, as a way of remembering. I was on a path where I truly considered leaving everything to become a monk. When I had to make the decision, I did not pursue.
I ended up giving away these malas as gifts, but I held onto two that I regularly used for meditation. One of which is pictured here. I use it still, but it also serves to remind me of the principles that brought me the most love: compassion, empathy, and patience.