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Mala Collective was made for this moment.

Staying grounded isn’t easy in the best of times. Mala Collective’s Ashley Wray is helping others practice mindfulness at a time that’s positively surreal.

Nine years ago, Ashley quit her job as a journalist covering murder trials. She headed to Bali to turn the page and found new purpose in a string of mala beads, 108 gemstones strung together to focus the mind during meditation. On her flight home, happenstance seated her next to the woman who’d made them. She took the chance encounter as a sign and soon opened Mala Collective in Vancouver to sell the mala beads and other meditation tools.

Finding new ways to nourish the soul.

For Ashley and Mala Collective, our shared global pause has presented a rare opportunity. “This time of crisis gives us a chance to really reflect on our values, why we’re here as a business, how do we serve people, how do we show up?”

Like many brands, they’ve amplified their online presence to reach spiritual seekers wherever they are. To help people create calm in a time of unknowns, Mala Collective is offering free online guided meditations and Instagram live talks to cultivate presence of mind.

The free content is a salve for stressed-out souls. “We get to show up and share meditation and mindfulness practices. When the world needs it the most, we get to step up and be that. What a gift that we get to be just a small part of someone’s day.”

This time of crisis gives us a chance to really reflect on our values, why we’re here as a business, how do we serve people, how do we show up?

Ashley Wray

We’re always capable of these pivots.

While Ashley’s business sells physical goods, what she teaches is intangible and transformational: the ability to sit with oneself in good times and bad. The current crisis has called on that habit of mind. “The reminder of how capable we are as humans is beautiful. The amount of times we have pivoted as a business — we’re always capable of those pivots. We’re always capable of that creativity,” she says.

Ashley’s advice for other business owners is less about what to do and more about how to be. “Go easy on yourself. It’s okay if you just need to chill out and take some time. Next, I would say just being aware of our thoughts. My gratitude practice is really important to each morning, even if I don’t want to. Even if I feel like it’s going to be a bad day and I’m stressed out, I still write what I’m grateful for.”

She also points to the power of meditation to tether the free-floating anxiety many are experiencing. “Most people think they’re either meditating wrong or that they can’t meditate, so they don’t try at all. When I’m teaching meditation, I talk a lot about how it’s just creating space for yourself to reconnect to your breath. When we’re doing that, we’re reducing anxiety. We’re creating space for calm, ease, lowering blood pressure, all of the things we should be doing right now.”