September 21stis celebrated worldwide as the INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE. It is an initiative started by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981 and observed around the world as a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a “Culture for Peace”.
The PEACE DAY THEME FOR 2020 is "Shaping Peace Together". With this as it’s call to action the United Nations has asked that we celebrate this day by spreading compassion, kindness and hope in the face of COVID-19.
Although we have been “brought together” by this global experience we see many people separating over politics, policies and policing. Many have experienced a new level of fear, isolation and separation that has changed the way we look at the world and each other. The world feels chaotic and unfamiliar and even scary.
We feel panicked, threatened, overwhelmed, powerless and even lost. Our fear manifests as anger, control and blame. In the presence of these emotions we shut down and shut off from others, hunker down with our small “tribe” and see everyone and everything as a threat.
When we express these emotions we separate from the best versions of ourselves and can feel small and powerless. When we feel powerless we do not believe we can play an integral part in change. We start to play small and let others take control of our beliefs, our choices and our lives.
The only way through any form of conflict or crisis is to be in a place of peace. If we are to “shape peace together” we need to be able to communicate and collaborate. We cannot do this in the presence of fear which makes us shut down and shut off from each other and the wisdom that comes from an open and loving heart.
We cannot demand peace on the outside when we cannot cultivate it within. We have to “be the change” before we can ask for change outside and shape it together.
If we do not feel peace in our hearts it is often because there is no peace, calmness or clarity of mind. We have to start by asking ourselves honestly what leaves us feeling ill at ease in the world, in conflict with others and hard of heart. We have to sit with our own emotions and look at from where they arise which is most often FEAR. Fear of the unknown, fear of the uncontrollable, fear of the future, fear of those who look different, speak differently and who have different ways of looking at the world and living in it.
In Sanskrit , the language of Yoga, the word for Peace is SHANTI which translates as tranquility, peace, quiet, calmness of mind, absence of passion, averting of pain and “ indifference to objects of pleasure or pain”.
You may have heard this word chanted in a yoga class, sometimes at the end of a longer chant or at the closing of the practice. Om Shanti is an invocation for peace and is usually chanted three times to become OM shanti shanti shantih.
When chanted 3 times it is invoking peace on three levels of consciousness - waking, dreaming and sleeping and to to the body, mind and spirit.
This mantra is an invitation for us all to cultivate a deep and profound level of peace within ourselves first and foremost and then for that same peace to extend to our families, our communities, the world at large and ultimately all beings.
Click HERE to hear a beautiful rendition of the chanting of this mantra.
What are the things that help you feel at ease with the world around you and to feel peace in your heart?
For me, being in nature always helps soften the fear and reminds me of the beauty in the world.
Reading uplifting words from great spiritual teachers builds my faith that all will be well and reminds me that I am a powerful agent for change that starts with me.
Listing all the things and people in my life I am grateful for and all the blessings I have received helps soften and open my heart to all.
Being in community with people whose commitment to peace can be seen in how they live their lives, engage with others and move through the world inspires me to invite more peace into all aspects of my life.
I wish you PEACE today, and all days.