'Finding Om' - Review
Finding Om is a fascinating little book. It’s a children’s book, yes, with all the best parts of children’s books: beautiful illustration, engaging story, and learning. But it’s more than that. It’s also a window into the life of a mixed-race family so often ignored in children’s publishing. In its exploration of meditation, of 'finding aum', Bismark introduces children to a blend of cultures and the power of mindfulness. I simply could not love it any more.
From the glowing figure of little Anu on the cover to the lument Indian-African family depicted within its pages, Finding Om is a colourful exploration of what a family can look like, which, even more excitingly, is never explicitly addressed. Rather than being a book about mixed-race people, this is a children’s book about the importance of meditation, and how it can connect us with the world. I fundamentally support the importance of meditation for people of all our ages - as well as connecting us to the universe, as Finding Om highlights, I believe it is the perfect way to ground ourselves in ever-anxious world.
There is a line that stuck with me particularly; when Appuppa asks little Anu what she thinks will happen when she chants 'Om'. I hope I am not devastating you by spoiling the plot here - Anu does not know what will happen. Appuppa responds:
“It’s okay not to know all the answers”, Appuppa said gently. “It’s an interesting feeling, isn’t it - this feeling of not knowing? Do you have the courage to find some answers?”
I think we all feel like Anu some days. Some days, I do not know anything at all. I am easily distracted when practising my meditation. I find it difficult to focus on not feeling anything. Anu’s story reminds us that we must take everything, meditation included, one step at a time. It is okay not to know things. I will be taking the advice of Bismark (who, as well as being an author and yoga teacher, is a physician specialising in Preventive Medicine in the US), and trying to remember to connect myself to the universe when I can. In the meantime, I will be showing this book to the children in my life, because, frankly, more BAME faces in a bookshelf can never go amiss.
Finding Om by Rashmi Bismark, illustrated by Morgan Huff, will be available from 5 May 2020.