News /Prayer bead workshop offers creative, spiritual outlets for consumers
Fifteen mental health consumers came together last week to participate in the inaugural prayer bead workshop hosted at PEERS. The workshop, created and led by Rev. Lujuan Thompson, aims to stimulate an interest in the use of prayer beads and one's own creativity as a spiritual practice for calming and centering the mind.
After starting with a brief history of prayer beads, participants introduced themselves and discussed how they saw spirituality and prayer beads playing a role in their wellness.
PEERS Spirituality Liaison Monique Tarver was heartened to see individuals from all cultures and faiths partaking in the workshop.
"There was a great amount of diversity in room, and it was fascinating because the makeup really mirrored quite a bit of what we see around California," Tarver said. "Eighty six percent of California consumers — regardless of their particular spiritual path — define prayer as a wellness tool. I think prayer is universal and resonates more with the human condition than we can ever see."
Because the use of prayer is so widespread, said Tarver, it seemed like a natural fit to bring like-minded individuals together to produce something to support that wellness tool.
"It just made sense to host this kind of event, as prayer beads are used by individuals who ascribe to all religions or even to those who do not consider themselves spiritual," Tarver said. "The event also supports the annual Day of Prayer even after the official observance ends. We also decided to do it at the beginning of the holiday season because while the holidays can certainly be a joyous time, it can also be a triggering and upsetting period. We wanted to offer as much support as possible and foster camaraderie from shared commonalities."
Thompson decided to share her lifelong experiences with crafting and spirituality after interacting with and posing the scenario to the Alameda County Spirituality Workgroup.
"Crafting has deeply nourished me in very special ways for most of my life," Thompson said. "Thoughts of sharing this practice with others in a workshop setting often surfaced in my mind but were dismissed with my own denial of my skills and readiness to teach. However, while I was recently making a strain of prayer beads, I realized that the desire to share was more prominent in my mind than the need to teach."
While she has participated in various artistic practices since childhood, it wasn’t until adulthood that Thompson recognized a valuable spiritual connection.
"When I was a child, my mother taught me to sew, knit, and embroider," Thompson said. "I also learned to make paper dolls, design their clothes, and to write short stories. I was a very shy, lonely child, and these activities were 'chicken soup for my soul.' As I aged and matured spiritually, I added other arts to my repertoire with increasing understanding of crafting as a spiritual practice that entails meditation, visioning, faith, and deep listening."
At the conclusion of the workshop, participants shared their final pieces with their peers and explained their process.
"We shared why we chose what we chose," Tarver said. "One could see that beyond the community process there was also an individualized process that was meaningful and deep."