Hello everyone! It’s been such a long time since we had someone to feature for Sound Off Saturday, and we are thrilled for our return post to be author Rashmi Bismark. You might have heard of Rashmi before when we were part of the cover reveal team for the latest Bharat Babies book, Finding Om! Hope everyone has some adventures planned for today, and that you find some time for yourselves in this hectic winter season, walking into the world a little calmer.
The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organization!
Rashmi Bismark: Hi! I’m Rashmi. I’m a mom of two little girls and a Preventive Medicine doctor with a clinical focus on teaching mindfulness. I also teach meditation and contribute curriculum for Yoga Medicine by Tiffany Cruikshank. Additionally, I’m what is called a “trailing spouse” in the expatriate world, meaning I follow my husband’s career around the world. We’ve lived across the globe from Asia to Europe, the US to the UK. Right now we are based on a small island off the coast of France in the English Channel called Jersey.
TTA: What are you passionate about?
RB: My family, tasty veggies, dark chocolate, exercise, sleep/rest, and yoga! Yoga for me is a physical practice and so much more. It’s a philosophy that infuses the culture of my ancestors. It’s seeking, uncovering, and honoring connections to myself and life around me in the service of love, harmony, and humanity. So for me in the world of healthcare, it’s helping patients and fellow physicians find ways of recognizing their wholeness and remembering wise resources from within to support health and healing. With my writing, it’s inspiring this spirit of self-inquiry and awareness for kids. As the mom in a rather nomadic family, it’s helping our multicultural, inter-faith kids balance and celebrate our backgrounds while getting curious about the people and lands we get to live in.
TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
RB: Well, of course all the fun around Finding Om! This book feels important for a number of reasons. It speaks to rediscovering those places of peaceful centering and wakeful aliveness from within that are so important for nurturing wellness – whether you are three years old or ninety-nine. These places are our deepest ways of knowing and being with ourselves and the world around us. We sense into them whenever we are resting within our innately present awareness. Mindfulness is the wise remembrance of this caring awareness, and yoga encompasses all the ways of connecting with it.
It is a gift to be able to nurture a relationship with this shared human capacity for inner friendship and peace, because doing so in many ways can be an act of revolution in itself. Our lives can be so full of activity that taking some time out to intentionally attend to the breath, for example, can be enough of a disruption to help us feel more grounded. Mainstream mindfulness and yoga shine light on activities of the body, breath, heart, and mind, helping us to connect with that enduring sense of wellbeing available right here. These same threads of wisdom can be found in traditions from across the world.
Finding Om shares the way that Anu, a little girl of Indian and African heritage, connects to her strengths of presence and awareness through an exploration of the mantra OM with her beloved grandfather, Appuppa. While this is a story about her uncovering various aspects of mindfulness and meditation, it is also a story about her uncovering a connection to a practice embedded within one part of her cultural roots. It is Anu learning about an iconic mantra that is held with deep respect by various dharmic traditions across South Asia. It is her connecting with her Indian-America grandfather, feeling inspired by his rituals, and getting curious enough to explore them a bit on her own to see what it’s all about. It is an authentic exploration of the living cultural expressions of yoga within the South Asian diaspora.
TTA: How can people support you on your journey?
RB: Please consider purchasing this book, and any other books by Bharat Babies! Diverse books by indie publishers can use all the love and support they can get to increase visibility and longevity of their stories. Please feel free to share far and wide. Not only do children in the South Asian diaspora deserve to see themselves reflected in a story, but all kids deserve to share in the diverse experiences of their peers. This is how we learn about others to build empathy and understanding across communities.
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?
RB: We have had many favorites this year. I Am Love by Susan Verde sits very close to our hearts, as does Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o. Sulwe tackles colorism which is something that crosses all communities, and it hurts. Illustrated by Vashti Harrison, Sulwe’s journey of connecting to her truest inner beauty is radiant.
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
RB: Definitely the launch of Finding Om! Since this world of kids lit is completely new to me, I am just loving every fresh experience. I absolutely cannot wait to share this book with kids and hear their reflections. Children are so wise and insightful. I’m eagerly anticipating all the things they are going to teach me about finding their own connections to peace and aliveness within. My heart is bursting right now just thinking about it! Yoga practices like meditation and inquiry can be much more than tools or techniques for managing thoughts and difficult emotions. These are also daily opportunities for fostering a sacred relationship to one’s self and life experience purely for the beauty and joy of it. Looking forward to celebrating it all.
Stay Connected With Rashmi!