Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Finding Peace

September 21 is global peace day. This year, the organizers’ goal is for this year’s day “to be the largest reduction in global violence in recorded history, both domestically and internationally.” What an incredible vision. How amazing would it be if for one day, violence stopped . . . globally?

Many yoga studios take part in global peace day by getting together for an event called Global Mala. Started by Shiva Rhea, Global Mala events invite people to do 108 Sun Salutations or 108 chants. 108 is a sacred number, but I think there are 108, or more, reasons why that is. I participated in the 108 Sun Salutations in Tucson, Arizona two years ago, and this Saturday (yes, a few days late), I will participate in 108 here in Dunedin, New Zealand. As the world erupts in protests and suicide bombings and bigotry and hate, bringing a community together to celebrate and honor peace gives me hope.

So, September 21 is a wonderful opportunity to think about peace, to think about acting without violence, to think about ahimsa. It is a wonderful opportunity to imagine a peaceful world. It is a wonderful opportunity to imagine a world in which we honor and respect all people for who they are. It is a wonderful opportunity to look externally and imagine living among others peacefully. It is a beautiful vision, eh?

But are you willing to look inside? Are you willing to see peace within yourself? Are you willing to put aside that voice in your head that tells you every time you do something “wrong”?

Because there is absolutely no way to have external peace without internal peace.

For many of us, finding internal peace is much more difficult than imagining a peaceful world. We can look at the other side of the world and say “if only X happened,” the situation would get better. From the outside looking in, everyone seems to have their own answer for how to make the situation better. But when we turn that lens on ourselves, if we turn that lens on ourselves, we create every excuse in the book for how difficult it would be to find peace.

I do not have time. I am too tired. I tried X and it did not work. We believe external sources define our internal peace. I would have peace if I made more money, or if I worked fewer hours, or if my family stopped driving me crazy. Deep down we know these external factors do not define our peace. We know we could make the time if we wanted. So what stops us?

I wish I had an answer to that question. This week I began taking an Introduction to Meditation class. I have been introduced to meditation many, many times over the past ten years. I have tried numerous types and styles along the way. So what drew me to the class? Discipline. I wanted to be accountable to other people. I wanted to know others were there as well. I wanted to know I did not have to make the time and do the hard work on my own. Plus, I really like the teacher, and as someone once said to me, “you can never take too many introduction classes.”

And that is really the answer, isn’t it? We can never introduce ourselves to ourselves too many times. We can never work for internal peace too many different ways. The more we learn to find peace each day, the more we can share it with others. Sure, there will be days when it seems impossible. But those are the days you reach out for the support network, for your community. But over time it gets easier. Over time, you stop making excuses. Over time, if we all make time for our internal peace, our vision for global peace may just come true.

Will you take today to be peaceful to yourself? Can you stop your inner critic for just one day? Can you use today to begin a pattern?

May peace be with you!


© 2011 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved

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