Experiential Sensory Prayer – Part 5 – Fidget Prayers

Fidget toys are a current trend. Ask any kid and they’ll be able to tell you  all about slime, putty, kinetic sand, fidget spinners and numerous other fidget toys. It’s a great time to be a kid. Fidgetting is mainstream! Fidgetting is fun! Fidgetting is good!

Here’s a very, very, quick run down on why fidgetting is good for our brains.  There’s research around the benefit of fidgetting with tactile objects, not just for children, but also for adults. Neurological research has shown that fidgetting and manipulating a moveable small object is a way to regulate the body’s nervous system. Rather than distracting the person fidgetting with their toy or other fidget, by integrating in this tactile way, the part of the brain responsible for processing and integrating sensory information is able to filter the sensory input, actually decreasing distraction, helping calm and aiding concentrate on what is going on in front of them.  Of course we’re not all the same. Some people need more sensory input to regulate their nervous system. What works for one person, doesn’t for another. We don’t outgrow the need to regulate our nervous system. A child who benefits from fidgetting to regulate their nervous system will likely be an adult who also benefits from fidgetting to regulate their nervous system.  The autistic community understand this to be stimming but it’s not just autistic people who fiddle or stim to calm or alert their sensory system.

The trend in current toys means kids of all kinds get to legitimately play for hours with all the cool fun stuff, while their brains are secretly regulating, adults shouldn’t feel left out. There are actually lots of fidget toys out there specifically targetting adults.  They look ‘more grown up’ but what’s wrong with having a small tin of putty in your handbag or a fidget cube in your pocket. Invariably, people make their own fidgets anyway. Clicking a pen, unwinding a paper clip, doodling on a pad with a pen, flicking a rubber band, tapping a knee, twiddling thumbs, squeezing a stress ball, drumming fingers on a table, fiddling with a ring or watch or any number of fidgetting actions. Take a few moments this week when you’re in a group of people to notice the fidgetters around you.

It strikes me that if fidgetting helps concentration and focus for large numbers of people, that this fits in very well with my thoughts on experiential prayer. By deliberately touching and manipulating objects, not only does it help bring a sense of calmness, it also focusses concentration on the prayer.  While this style of praying doesn’t work for everyone, and could even be considered a bit of a gimmick by those who prefer stillness  there are others who will find this way to pray brings them closer to God than a words based prayer.

One of our young grandaughters has joined with a couple of friends and started a small slime making business. They sell only to their friends through their closed Instagram accounts. They make their own slime (google it if you want to try making it – it’s super easy) and then they make videos of the slime. She’ll spend hours making slime, playing with slime and watching videos of other people playing with slime. I asked her to make me a video for this blog post because I thought it was a great way of illustrating a fiddle and introducing an experiential, tactile, multi-sensory, fidget prayer.

Slime Prayer

Fidget with your slime. Pull it into long strands, twist it and turn it and fold it back on itself, push your fingers into it, squeeze it and squelch it, get absorbed in playing with the slime. As you put your energy into moving the slime, pray about your stresses and concerns in your own life. Give your needs to God. Talk about things that are bothering you, that aren’t working out, that need some God input. Notice the changes in the slime as you work it. Ask God to be at work in your life, making you more open and malleable to God’s involvement and promptings.

5 Senses to Prayer © Caroline Bindon 2018 (Sense of Touch – Adoration and Praise (SP.T.1) 

5 Senses to Prayer Virtual Prayer Room

Our new resource, 5 Senses to Prayer Virtual Prayer Room is now available for purchase. It’s a subscription resource with monthly or annual subscriptions.  Every week two curated, tactile, experiential prayers are provided via email.  Check out 5 Senses to Prayer Virtual Prayer Room and look at a free sample. Subscribe here and either pay via our website or we’ll send you an invoice.

We’ll shortly be publishing our first 5 Senses to Prayer book and introducing a 5 Senses to Prayer Basic Box Kit. Both will be available for purchase from our website.

Sign up to Friends of Kereru to be sure to hear the release news as it happens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experiential Sensory Prayer – Part 4 – An experiential walk through John’s Gospel

The gospels tell the story of God’s son eating, drinking, walking, washing, socialising, crying, sleeping, laughing and living a human life. We read about a Jesus who can relate to our everyday experiences but at the same time we read about a Jesus who is no ordinary person. Reading the gospels is not a flat two dimensional collection of words. Instead it is a life and death and resurrection story which points the way to our own journeying story. It’s an experiential story and when we experience it, it changes our world.  Words are not enough for us to use in response to such a story.

This is the greatest story ever told and it requires a reaction from us. When we read it, focusing on the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of this story, we are left with some of the sensory impressions that might have been experienced by those who were witnesses at the time. It’s more than a historical story. It’s a story that gives life for us today as we journey. If it’s our journey story too, then we have to pay more than lip service to the story. It has to be a whole-of-ourselves experience. Of course we can’t really walk through a story, but we can read it as if we were reliving the experiential moments in the story by using our understanding of our own sensory experiences.  Take a multi-sensory walk through John’s gospel.

Read each chapter in John’s gospel, considering the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch included in the story. There are several aspects to focus on by reading it from a multi-sensory perspective.

Jesus uses senses to live his ordinary daily life

The gospel tells of God’s son as a human. There are ordinary parts to the gospel where we see Jesus’ actions in his life journey being very similar to our own. We read about him walking, talking, eating, drinking and sleeping. We read about Jesus the man and we experience the Jesus who has a sense of smell, touch, taste, sight and hearing just as we do in our ordinary daily lives.

Jesus uses senses to teach and tell stories

Whether in telling stories or trying to make a point to explain something, Jesus uses a lot of images and metaphors. It’s as if he knows the points themselves are too complex and remote to understand and we need a sensory experience to aid our understanding. We read Jesus’ words about being born again as “Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.” John 3:8 CEV

Jesus uses senses to perform his signs and miracles

The miracles performed by Jesus are very multi-sensory. The water turns into wine. How would you know if you didn’t taste it? The royal official’s son is healed. The effects of the fever that could be seen can now no longer be seen.  The invalid man lying beside the pool picks up his mat and walks away. After 38 years that is some activity!  Jesus feeds five thousand. Imagine eating enough bread and fish until you’re full and then watching the leftovers being piled up. You can almost taste the moment.

There is a storm on the lake and Jesus walks on water.  A storm uses all our senses… smell the stirred-up water spraying, see the effect of the wind on the waves, listen to the haunting echo of the wind and the waves crashing, taste the rain drops on your lips, feel your wet hair clinging to your face, the water droplets running down your neck and into your clothes and feel that chill that seems to go right through you to your bones when you’re cold and wet.  Suddenly all is still. The senses are shocked into silence. Jesus walks on water. This is surely a visual experience never to be forgotten.

Then there is the blind man who is healed when Jesus spits on mud and puts it on his eyes. This sign involves both sight and touch.  As for the rising of Lazarus from the dead – a bad smell experience is averted. 39 Then he told the people to roll the stone away. But Martha said, “Lord, you know that Lazarus has been dead four days, and there will be a bad smell.” John 11:39 CEV

Jesus uses senses with his “I am…’ statements

The seven ‘I am’ statements in John’s gospel create experiential images for us to understand Jesus. When Jesus uses these metaphors to describe himself he also gives us clues as to how we can understand the metaphor. For instance, if we eat the bread of life Jesus says we will never go hungry again. It’s a very ordinary, practical example of a sensory experience to explain an aspect of our spiritual journey.

I am the bread of life (6:35)

I am the light of the world (8:12)

I am the gate (10:7)

I am the good shepherd (10:11)

I am the resurrection and the life (11:25)

I am the way, the truth and the life (14:6)

I am the true vine (15:1)

Jesus uses senses in his final days & at his resurrection

The story of Jesus’ final days is overwhelmingly full of sensory experiences. The shouts of jubilation from a palm waving crowd, the ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, the meal shared with bread and wine, the lonely vigil amongst the olive trees, the sword that Simon Peter uses to cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest, the tying and binding of Jesus, the way Peter is cold and warms himself in front of a fire only to hear the cock crowing, the beating of Jesus, the wearing of a crown of thorns and a purple robe, the shouts of the crowd calling ‘Crucify him’, the nailing of Jesus to a cross, the gambling over his garments, the wine held out to him on a soaked sponge, the spear stuck into Jesus’ side, the spices that Nicodemus took to the tomb, the stone that is rolled away, the weeping Mary, the resurrection of Jesus, the locked room with the disciples, the way Thomas had to put his hand into Jesus’ side, the net that was full of fish, the breakfast on the beach with the disciples …  this is a story where those that were there must have had their senses filled; the tastes, the sounds, the sights, the smells and the touch.

This is the story of Jesus.