This morning as I walked into the office, the newspapers lying on the coffee table in our client waiting area jumped out at me:
Terror! The headlines were huge and bold. Terror was the word being used to draw in readers and sell newspapers.
And it is true. There are people in this world doing terrible things and creating terror. There are wars and murders and atrocities being committed everyday. I don’t deny that.
But I don’t buy the news and I still believe that the goodness of humankind can outweigh the ugly and the bad.
Last year as I walked the Via Francigena, I became acutely aware of the “stranger danger” programming I learned as a child. Whenever strangers approached me, my first reaction was fear, wondering if I could trust them or if they intended me harm. What I experienced was kindness and curiosity; people only ever wanted to talk to me, to offer me coffee or a meal or the use of their bathroom.
When I think about walking from Rome to Jerusalem alone next year I sometimes feel fearful. Newspaper headlines and television news stories about murders and violence spring to mind. Movies likes Wolf Creek definitely don't help. A month ago I realised that if there were no people in the world I wouldn't hesitate to go alone. To my surprise I realised I was scared of people. But I won't let fear rule my life. And I know from my experience last year that that the people who appear along the way will be there to help me.
The path I will walk to Jerusalem next year is known as the Way of the Soul. Many pilgrims walk it with the intention of spreading peace.
I don’t believe we all need to go on long and arduous journeys to find peace or spread the message of peace but if humankind is to survive on this earth, we each need to live peace in our everyday lives. Peace with others and in the world starts within each of us.
Sunday 21st September is the International Day for Peace sometimes known as World Peace Day. It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981 to promote peace and prevent violent conflict in the world.
Some of the ways that we can experience and promote peace within ourselves and within the world are:
- Tonglen, the Tibetan meditation where you practice taking on the suffering of others on the in-breath and breathing out peace, love and happiness to all sentient beings
- Lighting a candle
- Walking mindfully with the intention of peace
- Offering kind words to a stranger
- Making peace with someone in your life that you are odds with – agree to disagree, put your differences aside, forgive, love
- Feeling the love in your heart
- Practicing Non-Violent Communication
- Visualising the earth harmonious and living in peace
- Making an offering monetary or otherwise to those who work to make the world a more peaceful place
- Setting your intention to live peacefully
- Practice forgiving yourself.
Living peacefully isn’t about never feeling angry. Anger is a valid emotion that has its place in our lives. Living peacefully is about choosing our actions. Living peacefully is about choosing love.
I don’t always get it right but I try.
This weekend I am immersing myself in a Shakti workshop, spending time with family and friends and on Sunday I will meditate and pray for peace.
I'd love to know how you practice peace in your life? What actions will you take this International Peace Day? Do take a moment and tell me in the comments below.
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