Broken Can Be Good


One morning, not long ago, I pulled my sweatshirt over my head, caught my mala bracelet in the sleeve, snapped the elastic, and watched the beads shoot into the air, shower down onto the hardwood floor, and scatter beneath the bed, radiator, and dresser. A mala bracelet, as you may know, is a talisman of sorts. The word “mala” translates to mean prayer, so they’re prayer beads, in effect. Similar to a rosary, only, admittedly, more en vogue.

When mine broke, leaving me to crawl under the bed, helplessly collecting all the beads I could find (those suckers caught some serious air!), I immediately wondered whether it was a good sign or a terrible one. Auspicious or ominous? Was it an indication that my prayers had been answered or God was surely smiting me? So, I settled this spiritual quandary in the most practical way that any om gal could fathom. I sent a text message to my pal, Chanel. Given that I purchased the bracelet at last month’s Global Mala event, which she organized, I thought she might be able to help.

“Eek, my global mala bracelet broke! Good luck or God smiting me??” I rapid-fire texted, adding multiple question marks to punctuate the seriousness of my situation.

Fortunately, Chanel, being the come-through-in-the-clutch friend that she is (she once broke into my apartment for me, after I locked myself out), promptly responded, “LOL. Good sign. When the mala breaks, it means its medicine has done its job.”

Well, thank heavens! I was bracing myself for seven years of bad luck and the need to stock up on lots of sea salt, to throw over my left shoulder (or is it the right?) in any moment that warranted it.

TIME OUT: As I finished typing that sentence a LADY BUG just landed on the floor next to me! Talk about auspicious. People, I can’t make this stuff up.

OK, where was I? Oh yes, broken bracelets . . . Here’s the crux of what I’m trying to say: sometimes broken things are positive. Granted, our initial reaction is always to scurry around on all fours, trying to recover the pieces, but what if we surveyed and respected the wreckage, instead? Isn’t life a constant dance between destruction and creation anyway? And, what better lesson than to understand that when something shatters, like a relationship or the economy, for example, it might not necessarily be a bad thing. In fact, it just might be a sign of positive things to come- the universe’s way of assuring us that certain baubles, ideals, or life paths no longer serve us.

However, if you insist on scurrying under the bed, perhaps you’ll at least consider grabbing a flashlight when venturing into that dim territory.

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  • Meghan

    In 2000, I went backpacking through Israel. On my first trip to the wall, I met this old woman who tied a red string around my wrist. As the legend goes, when this red string falls off, the first person you see (man or woman depending on your preference) is your ‘beshert’ or intended. Most people lose their string within a couple months. Mine never came off. It got stretched out and tattered and kept sliding off my wrist every time I pulled my arm through the sleeve of a shirt but never broke. Eventually I took it off and it still lies all tattered and stretched out in my jewelry box and I remain single. Your story reminded me of this… perhaps I should tie and new knot and put it back on… and wait for some serious breaking magic to happen upon it.

  • Anonymous

    R-I love this piece. I needed a reminder today. Dealing with my “broken” x, y, and z has been difficult. Reminders that good can and will come from them are always needed. So thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Wow…this seems to be the “theme” of the week. I love it when life lessons are so clear. Wish they all were. Sometimes a broken “this” turns in to a fixed “that” in a heartbeat.

  • jenn

    I love love loved this post…it resonates with so many things in my life at this point in time. Thank you!

  • http://andrewbwatt.wordpress.com Andrew B. Watt

    My mala broke after only three weeks of use. It’s nice to feel like one’s prayers are released to the Universe, or that one has broken through. It’s definitely a reminder that tools are unnecessary and sometimes a distraction in spiritual work.

  • SP1

    Thanks for this! I just broke mine, as I was chanting on it, and finished that round..it snapped. Even I felt a bit perturbed, but now reading this I feel happier and more hopeful :)

  • Karolyne Marie Foley

    My fiance was killed in November. Ever since….. Every piece of jewelry he ever bought me breaks or falls off when I wear it. Someone tell me what this means.