Yesterday, I finally put them to use. I figured I'd be sitting on a subway or streetcar for a while as I headed home, so I used the opportunity to give the beads a try.
I started by silently repeating the mantra for Amita Buddha: Namu Amita Butsu. I found that I was really going through it quickly and my mind wanted to slow it down, so I continued with the mantra until I reached the 108th bead, chanting much slower than when I'd started.
The second mantra I did was a personal mantra (or positive affirmation) from a song that I'd written back when I was trying to perk myself up after moving back to Toronto from the Arctic. I started with the first three lines of the chorus, "I am happy, I am healthy, love surrounds me", and part of the way through the cycle, I started to feel guilty for using such an "ego-centered" mantra. I changed it so that I was silently repeating "All is happiness, All is healthiness, Love surrounds me" but after about a dozen repetitions, I realized that it just wasn't flowing properly and switched back to the original form. A thought occured to me that I need to focus on myself and my own "enlightenment" in order to be able to fully help others anyway.
I finished off with a cycle of "Om Mani Padme Hum", the jewel in the lotus, followed by another cycle of "Namu Amita Butsu".
I found this form of meditation very effective for me and think it would be even more interesting to try it while speaking the chants out loud (something I'll refrain from doing while riding public transit). I also noticed that I was sitting up straight while doing the mantras without even having thought about it. It seems my body really is adjusting to the proper posture since my back didn't bother me at all either.
Later that same night, I headed out to pick up a few things that I'd need for the weekend and on the way home, I took the change from my pocket and scattered it along the sidewalk as an offering to Mercury for the re-appearance of my metropass.
I ended the night on a low note though because my stomach really started to hurt. I couldn't figure out what kind of pain it was but it didn't feel like hunger. I ate a few crackers anyway, just in case but only enough to put something in my stomach since the thought of food really wasn't that appealing and I didn't want to be sick from eating anything. I did some Reiki on myself and went to bed and felt quite a bit better when I woke up so I'm wondering if it wasn't just my body getting out some toxins from my junk food binges over the past few days. I slept really well though, so whatever it was, obviously wasn't too bad.