Mindfulness is a powerful way to handle stress, and live life more fully. Mindfulness is all about living fully in the present moment, without judgment, and with an attitude of kindness and curiosity towards oneself and others. It’s about breathing, noticing what’s happening right here and now. Mindfulness helps us be present. It sounds simple, but it takes regular practice.
My first mindful teacher has a podcast that I use on a regular basis. Try this one to get started.
Three-Minute Body Scan Meditation
Is mindfulness meditation? Is it prayer? I believe it can be both. As a person of faith, I find that with each breath, I am breathing in the breath of God. Life abundant. It is space to listen to God. Mindfulness is not essentially prayer, but it helps me to be present in this world so that I can be more aware of God’s presence in my life. I know that has real changes for me. Research shows that mindfulness has significant changes to health and wellbeing. Neuroscience is finding that mindfulness may be re-wiring the brain so that we can be more focused and less neurotic. Another mindful practice that has helped me is using the acronym RULER to understand when I am in a place of of crisis. This can be work for a huge argument or a time of depression.
Recognize the emotion without judgement.
Understand the cause of the emotion.
Label the emotion accurately. This may require digger deeper than the presenting emotion.
Express the emotion appropriately if the opportunity allows.
Regulate the emotion successfully and move forward.
Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly. Abundant used to mean to me, how much can I cram into my day? Mindfulness has helped me be more present and recognize that abundance really is finding love and joy every day in the everyday ordinary of life.
Michelle-Thomas Bush is the Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Learn more about mindfulness with Michelle at her Treading Water workshop at this year's ARW Conference. Explore mindfulness, ancient faith practices and mindful games to use with young people.
Did you know that the conference fee from the Arts, Recreation and Worship Conference includes lodging and meals? For only $575, you get the conference, a double-occupancy room and three meals a day. Food, fun and a place to lay your head while you learn, play, renew, rest and create for less than $600. Come and join us!
In your career working with youth, inevitably someone (whether it is your Head of Staff or the Youth Committee or a well-meaning church matriarch) will suggest: “Hey, why don’t the youth lead a service?” I entitled my workshop at the upcoming ARW conference, “So You’ve Decided to Plan a Youth Sunday,” because such a thing isn’t for the faint of heart.
Before you retreat to the corner of your office and rock back and forth or make a youth-worker sized hole in the wall Kool-Aid Man style, take a deep breath. It’s all going to be ok.
Planning a Youth Sunday doesn’t have to be stressful. I’m going to offer you a few hacks to get your blood pressure back to normal. (For the full pro-tip/hack list, come to my workshop at ARW!)
Hack #1: Don’t try to write it all yourself. You are the facilitator, you are there to guide. So make sure you set your youth up for success. If you write it, it will sound like you wrote it. You want to make sure it sounds like the youth wrote it. And the youth can write it. I’ve done it for many years at different congregations -- it is possible. Your youth group doesn’t have to be full of theologians to write a great service, just give them a few resources and room to be creative. At my workshop, I’ll detail just how to facilitate the process and make it as smooth as possible.
Hack #2: Things won’t be perfect. We live in a messy world, and our liturgy will undoubtedly reflect that. Don’t worry if someone forgets a prayer or if the microphones go out or if that rogue five-year-old up front steals the show. You are there to show a different way to worship and to help the youth use their gifts to lead.
Hack #3: Keep your eyes and ears open. Be ready for the Holy Spirit to move as you plan and prepare. Oh, and come to ARW to learn more, meet fellow youth workers, and discuss new ideas with your colleagues.
Sarah Leer is Director of Youth and Their Families at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas. Sarah is a graduate of Wake Forest University, Columbia Theological Seminary (where she earned a Master of Arts in Theological Studies and a Master of Theology), and the Clinton School of Public Service. She is currently working on her Doctorate in Educational Ministry at Columbia Seminary. Sarah enjoys singing Broadway songs in her car, geeking out over pop culture, hanging out with her family, traveling, watching college football, and attending youth conferences that include energizers.
Many of us grew up thinking prayer had to happen according to certain formulas - on our knees at bedtime or as blessings before meals or as part of a worship service on Sunday mornings. Many of us just weren't very successful at the discipline of prayer on our own. Prayer stations provide people of all ages with creative ways to experience prayer using a variety of the senses. Stations can be designed to appeal to children, youth, adults, or intergenerational groups. Different stations appeal to different folks depending on their learning styles and preferences, personalities, and experience.
Prayer stations often engage both the right and left brain, as well as the senses. They invite us to connect with God and with our whole selves. Some stations involve visual arts (like praying while coloring or painting); some stations involve the whole body (like yoga poses or sign language prayers); other stations involve creative writing of prayers in response to Scripture prompts or some journaling; some invite prayer in response to photos of people or nature or places in the world.
Prayer stations are a great addition in retreat settings, as part of worship services, during youth groups, or as liturgical season prompts. There are lots of ideas for different prayer stations on line (such as on Pinterest) but you can get first hand experience with Prayer Stations at the Arts, Recreation, and Worship Conference at Montreat, NC in May 2020. Spend a week experiencing a variety of prayer stations, creating some new ones, and setting them up for other conferees to experience. Go home with a wealth of ideas to try out in your own setting. Let us pray.........
Deb Guess is an artist, gardener, lover of good food and all things creative, as well as a proud wife, mom and grandmom.
You can learn more about her ARW workshop HERE.
A new year means a new blog for the Arts, Recreation and Worship Conference. In the year ahead, this blog will be your resource for games, activities, projects, worship ideas AND previews of what's happening at this year's Arts, Recreation and Worship Conference.
The creative powerhouse of the ARW community is one like no other. Artists, youth directors, musicians, Christian educators, preachers, cooks, rec leaders and more come together to create and discover new ways of expressing, deepening and sharing our faith.
In the coming days and weeks, look to this blog as place to find inspiration, ideas and tools to help others recreate and renew through play, art and worship.
If you have a game, art project, worship idea or lesson that you'd like to share with this community, please contact our ARW Board Networking Chair, Anne Russ at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's to a happy, healthy and play-filled New Year!
Not-top-secret blog coming soon!