Open your heart, strengthen your spiritual core, and discover how the sacred art of bowing can enrich your spiritual life.
Daily, across America and across the world, people begin their day by bowing. Christians kneel for morning prayers, Muslims turn east to Mecca for the first salat (prayer) of the day, Jews daven (pray), and Buddhists prostrate themselves. Over the course of the day, many more people will find time to pause and, bending their body toward the earth, bow as part of their spiritual practice.
—from Chapter 1
The Sacred Art of Bowing serves as a welcoming introduction to the whys and ways of bowing. This ancient tradition—so often mistakenly tagged as only part of Asian cultures—has roots in nearly every religion around the world. In different forms in different faiths, people bow as a physical expression of their spiritual aspirations, humility, gratitude, and respect.
A companion for your journey rather than an instruction book, The Sacred Art of Bowing shares helpful insights that will inspire you to begin or deepen your own bowing practice through: A comprehensive look at bowing as practiced in many spiritual traditions Illustrations of bowing in practice Inspiring reflections from people who practice the sacred art of bowing Advice on how you too can incorporate bowing in your daily spiritual life
"Bowing... was not always an important part of my spiritual life," writes Young, a recent graduate of Yale and resident at the New Haven Zen Center. While living in Nepal, however, she encountered temples where devotees performed Tibetan-style full prostrations. Spurred by personal struggles, she began doing these herself, and found that bowing was a powerful form of personal repentance. Returning to America, she continued to explore bowing as a personal spiritual practice (as opposed to bowing as part of a larger practice or liturgy). Asserting that the goal of all bowing practice is to "call us to greater awareness of our thoughts, emotions, and intentions," she describes the 108 full prostrations with which she begins every day. She discusses the unique role and forms of bowing in Buddhism, then surveys bowing in its various incarnations in Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. She rounds out the book with several anecdotes and a discussion designed to inspire and encourage one's own bowing practice. Young unfailingly champions inner motivation over outer form, her tone is friendly and accessible, and her discussion sheds welcome light on an aspect of spiritual practice that is rarely highlighted. Yet the book lacks a rigorous central thesis, other than the general notion that bowing is helpful for spiritual practice, whatever one's tradition. She meanders by turns into Buddhist doctrine, Buddhist history, personal confession and long third-party anecdotal testimony. While informative, the book lacks the substance to be thoroughly engaging.