Finding OM and picture books that will follow intend to explore universal mantras from South Asian traditions while introducing practices that lie at the heart of yoga philosophy and mindfulness - meditation and self-inquiry.
Yoga is reconnection. It is the “yoking together” or integration of body:mind:heart:spirit, in wholeness with itself and in relationship with the environment.
Mindfulness is the remembrance of this naturally integrated way of being human. It is the full awareness of our inclusive presence, in constant relationship with the diverse world around us.
By connecting with this awareness of ourselves in wholeness we make space for the potential to further connect to places of peace, wisdom, strength, and love already here, now.
These integrated ways of living don’t belong to any one culture or group of people. These are deep ways of knowing, being, and inter-relating that have been explored across the world, over centuries. They are innate to our human experience.
South Asian yoga and mindfulness practices are just some of the ways of connecting to this organically integrated presence of awareness - at once relaxed and clear, curious, open, loving, courageous, and alive.
These are also treasured practices that are embedded into many of the cultural and Hindu spiritual traditions I grew up with in our Indian American household. They were some of the little (and equally profound) ways I was able to connect with my heritage, language, and identity as a child of immigrants from Kerala, India.
My hope is that Finding OM and subsequent books will provide children in the South Asian diaspora an opportunity to see themselves in a story that shares mainstream mindfulness ideas in a very culturally relevant way. I also hope it will help children and adults in all communities explore the universal nature of yoga and mindfulness philosophies.
Our family is a mixed one. My husband’s family is Zimbabwean and Black American. He spent a majority of his childhood in Zimbabwe and moved to Chicago at age 13. Catholic traditions and a strong sense of faith have always been celebrated in his home, along with respect and honoring of other traditional beliefs.
When we had children, mindfulness and yoga philosophy became the base from which we have been exploring all faiths together.
We hope picture books like Finding OM might inspire other interfaith families like ours to see that spiritual practice together as a family can be accessible and inclusive.
Idea to book contract in a year? Even I’m amazed this actually happened. There are of course all the logistical nuts and bolts - goal setting and planning, utilizing my network amongst friends, family, and colleagues; persistence; staying open to ideas; saying “yes” to opportunities; employing a writing coach (shout out to Amy Maranville at Kraken Communications for all her kid lit expertise). More than all of this, the one thing that helped my dream become reality was staying connected and true to my inner intention.
My clear intention at the start of 2018 was to soften and rest into the flow of creativity within and around me. I stayed open to allowing creativity to express itself in any form. Interestingly, my first media contribution of 2018 was for an article about the use of meditation to bolster creativity for the magazine Spirituality & Health.
And my direct experience this year could not hold more true. Every time I sat for meditation, or even sat at my laptop for that matter, I always took a moment to connect with my heart space and revisited this intention for myself. It helped me stay motivated through the inevitable ups and downs of literary submissions and nurtured my patience while waiting for replies.
A dream held in the heart with awareness forms an intention. What are your deepest intentions for yourself?
I have been sitting on this news for months now, and I’m just bubbling over with excitement to share. Many of you know that last year, I embarked on a journey to pursue creating a series of children’s books about meditation, mindfulness, and mantras. These stories were inspired by my own experiences as a kid with my father. They are also shaped by my experiences as a mother, teaching our multicultural, interfaith children about the many ways of connecting to our selves and the world around us through wise, loving awareness.
Well…. MY FIRST BOOK HAS BEEN ACCEPTED FOR PUBLISHING IN 2020!!!!!
Here is the official announcement in Publisher’s Weekly:
I am so incredibly joyous. Finding OM and the books that will follow intend to mindfully introduce universal mantras from South Asian traditions to young readers, families, educators, and yoga enthusiasts alike.
Thank you so much to the indie publishing house, Bharat Babies, for taking on this endeavor with me. They are a fantastic minority, female-owned company creating “diverse kids’ lit for a diverse world.” Some of their recent publications include Always Anjali, by actress Sheetal Sheth, Super Satya by Dow Jones editor Raakhee Mirchandani, and Shubh Raatri Dost/Good Night Friend by artist Nidhi Chanani.
Many, many thanks to illustrator Morgan Huff for deciding to collaborate with me! I’m so thrilled to watch her work her magic, bringing my words and illustration ideas to life. Go check her out on Instagram. She’s amazing at capturing the wonder and awe of childhood.
Speaking of Instagram, now that I'm making my debut entry into the literary world, I can use all the social media support I can get to help this #ownvoices #yogaforkids #mindfulliving #kidsmeditate #diversekidlit story become a success. Please connect with me via Instagram and Twitter @rashmibismark.
Thank you to all of my teachers.
I will be writing more in this space about my journey creating these books. Hope you’ll read along, and catch Finding OM pre-sales later this year!
Rashmi S. Bismark
I'm a preventive medicine physician specialized in mindfulness, lifestyle, and community health. I'm a yoga teacher, an educator, a researcher, a devoted mom and expatriate wife, living a blessed global nomad life.