Monday, September 11, 2017

Mindfulness, Resilience, & Spiritual Growth

Many are hurting today because of grief, fear, destruction, displacement, violence from storms, and violence from humans. This post is a reminder that even in the worst of circumstances, resilience has us clinging to hope found in the grace and gifts of every moment, particularly prayer and community. My prayer is that this book is a small reminder to pay attention to the love of God, a love that is never separated from us. 
Picture Book: Now
Author & Illustrator:  Antoinette Portis
Summary: Like the Portis book featured on Friday, bright images capture the joy of a moment, this time for a young girl who has many favorites: a favorite breeze, 
a favorite leaf, 
 a favorite hole,  
 even favorite mud. 
Then she explains the reason why. This cloud is her favorite because it is the one she is watching now.
Now is key, not just the title of the book. Even rain is enjoyed because this wise girl is able to glory in the present moment  
using her body & senses to fully experience the world. 
She squeezes out of her experiences gratitude that promotes mental health and an ever increasing capacity to pay attention to what is good in our world.
Her delight grounds her in the mantra that I've been told is a key to my spiritual growth, "Be here now." 
Her spontaneity and joy would be a welcome "witness" to a faith family wanting basic spiritual practices 
and reminders of grounding scripture such as O taste and see that the Lord is good. (Ps. 34:8a). 
 Naturally, this kind of enthusiasm can be contagious, 
affecting people (animals too!) throughout a community learning to revel in all that is good in God's creation. 
Look around. Is this your favorite now simply because you are alive?
Do you see beauty? Can you find a bit of God's grace?
Perhaps you are having this precious moment with the ones you love most. If so, savor now and be thankful.
Hanna’s Comments: The girl in this book has a knack for mindfulness and an on-going sense of joy and gratitude. Mindfulness, as defined by The American Psychological Association (APA), is “moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience." Add to it a sense of gratitude and enthusiasm for life such as this young girl demonstrates and you have a faith response, a sort of active meditation or prayer. The APA lists the benefits of mindfulness meditation: reduced rumination (repeated thoughts), stress reduction (less anxiety & depression), improved short-term memory, heightened focus & attention, less emotional reactivity, greater cognitive flexibility, and more relationship satisfaction. Check out details [here] or explore mindfulness through one of the many books for adults or children at your library. For a thoroughly spiritual angle, read Brother Lawrence's classic book The Practice of the Presence of God. [Here's] an Amazon link.
Original Publisher & Date: Roaring Brook Press, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, Toddler and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: O taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8a). Delight yourself in the Lord and receive the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4); A joyful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22); Nothing can separate us from God's love (Romans 8:38-39); Rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children or adults and talk about the spiritual and health benefits of mindfulness and how it relates to grateful prayer, mental health, and resilience.