Toward the end of January, while shopping online for something to brighten up those dark winter days, I bought a necklace of crystals in cool, sparkling colors. It went nicely with two new sweaters I’d gotten over the holidays, and it also felt like it gave me a much-needed boost of refreshing energy.
Sometimes, without really thinking about it, I would find myself fidgeting with the necklace, just letting the crystal beads run through my fingers. People nowadays tend to feel self-conscious when they realize they’re doing something like that. There’s a risk someone else might judge it to be weird, inappropriate behavior. Nobody wants to be seen as weird or abnormal, so it’s easier just to put the beads away if there’s any chance of being noticed fidgeting with them.
And that’s a pity. As I see it, we’ve collectively done ourselves a great disservice by letting a narrow cultural construction of normality deprive us of such harmless ways of calming ourselves. Before the modern era, our ancestors often carried worry beads and rosaries, believing it perfectly normal to use beads for prayer and self-soothing when in public places. In some parts of the world, such as Greece and the Middle East, it’s still commonplace to carry a string of worry beads and to click through them while walking through a marketplace or having a conversation.
Our complex, rapidly changing society is difficult enough to deal with in itself. If we’re always avoiding simple ways to calm and nurture ourselves because other people might think we are weird, then we end up with another layer of pressure on top of everything else, and there’s no outlet for it. It’s not surprising that so many people in today’s world are hugely stressed out. Reclaiming our ancestors’ comforting old traditions such as worry beads would go a long way toward calming our minds, quieting those old nagging fears, and empowering us to love who we are right now.
Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to “give this planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.” Visit her site to find more Nurturing Thursday posts and a list of frequent contributors.