Sunday, November 24, 2013

Part 2: Peace in Times of War

Whether you've have had time to reflect upon the two questions I had in my previous blog posting (part 1) or not, I will give you some suggestions or ideas of how that can occur, i.e., peace amidst conflict and tension.

One way as some or most of you may be familiar with is meditation. Now, I will be the first to (openly) admit I am not a great meditator, or is it preferable to say "not great at meditating." It is absolutely not my forte.

To sit in silence as I attempted to quite a number of years ago (yes, even for 15 minutes or less) is futile, at least for me. Not only do I usually itch and alleviate it by scratching which is what you are NOT supposed to do, I also move my body (usually my butt) with the aim of attaining a more comfortable position: lotus asana (or body posture is challenging for me); see

What I am good at though and that I enjoy is a different kind of meditation. There are other ways to meditate than just sitting still. Isn't that exciting? At least, it is for those of us who have a hard time sitting still. Such restless spirits some of us are! And yes, that includes me.

My favourite form of meditation is a moving meditation. This can be in the form of walking for example - not my favourite as I rarely stroll but walk rather quickly as I do need a bit of a workout - or even dancing. Yes, you heard that right!

Now, this form of dance can be either slow or fast, at least for me. When I spontaneously performed creative dance quite a number of years ago, some of it was somewhat slow. Yet I was so fully present to the process. Isn't that what meditation is about?

However, I have also been in a meditative state through dance when it was a rather upbeat tempo. It was through the rhythmic nature of the music, the steady pulsing of the bass beating in my ears, body, and mind that I entered what seemed like a trance-like state. This usually occurred when I closed my eyes and just felt the music and let it flow through me, kind of like interpreting the music or having Spirit flow through me.

In order for that induced state to occur, I would usually claim a spot on the dance floor (not a night club) and move my body from my ankles up keeping my feet stationary. Sometimes I would move my feet too, though would maintain my space as best I could on the dance floor by occasionally opening my eyes, partially softly gazing on the ground below and around me, not (up) at people around me.

One time when I entered this altered state or dimension, I imagined myself wearing a white flowing dress and twirling as Sufis do. I was spinning somewhat on the dance floor, something I rarely do as I usually get quite dizzy doing this. I'm not sure for how long, but it was a neat experience.

Another way I experience peace and love is when I sing or chant. The latter is a form of singing though I love to do so in Sanskrit which is an ancient East Indian language. While chanting, I enter a state of feeling of oneness: I feel total bliss, love, peace, and devotion. I highly recommend it as a way to open up the heart chakra (or heart centre).

In order for me to keep peace and love in my heart and mind, I live my passions as best I can – in no particular order – singing, creative dance/movement, writing, and walking. If I do this on a regular basis, my mind will tend to be more still, more at peace and I will live in peace within myself.

And if I live in a state of peace this then ripples out to others, those whom I am in contact with, whether in my home, at work, or in the community.

How do you feel peace in your heart and your life? Do you meditate and if so, how? What is your preferred style?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Part 1: Peace in Times of War

Years ago, sometime after the Bosnian war which lasted almost four years, my parents and I visited an area of Croatia (part of the former Bosnia and Herzegovina region. And, if I understand correctly, now known as Serbia.)

This country known for its mild Mediterranean weather was too hot and dry for me. The somewhat barren landscape, sparsely populated with vegetation (grasses) matched the desolate buildings of which there were many, at least what remained of them.

Remnants of (what I presume were residential) brick buildings with shattered windows dotted the road and countryside. It was not a pretty sight. (I still have photos that portray the aftereffects of that stark landscape, though I have them just as clearly etched in my mind.)

Was I as shocked and horrified as those buildings were (metaphorically speaking of course)? Were people living there during the bombings/explosions?

There are many civilians who question war, people like you and me. What is the purpose? Do we need it? Is it just an excuse for atrocities such as genocide and rape?

I have come to see and understand that what we experience as (so-called) reality is actually a reflection of our being. That is, what we think and feel is projected outside of us. Thus, the outer world, our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. This is experienced both individually and collectively.

If you dislike and/or disagree with these words, I totally understand. I used to! However, I have come to learn that this is indeed the case, whether we like it or not. In fact, I learned (the beginnings of) this phenomenon during a course on counselling skills.

There is a term known in the counselling and psychotherapy field as “transference.” This occurs when a client projects (i.e., transfers) their feelings and desires onto their counsellor or psychotherapist. It occurs at an unconscious level and can display in various ways, whether through feelings of love, fear, hate, or anything in between.

Thus, the state(s) of our being in our thoughts and feelings are important as it is the beginning of the ripple effect. Can you imagine the effect positively or negatively rippling in relation to that of a group of people whether in a family/home, at work, in meetings, in a village, town, city, or country? Use your imagination here or think of instances in your world.

Instead of judging others with eyes – and words – of anger or hate, we can choose to focus our thoughts and speech with compassionate and empathic tones. We can choose peace/love/joy/happiness or conflict/tension/hatred/anger in this moment, and this one, and the next, and so on. Hopefully peace, love, and joy will reign over conflict, tension, hatred, and even war.

It has been declared by an international spiritual teacher and author that peace will reign in our time. It is hard to imagine with all the wars and conflicts we have taking place in our everyday lives. Regardless, why not focus on peace...within ourselves first? Then let the ripples spread out...

Let's start today with Remembrance Day in Canada, and Veterans Day in the States: a moment of silence, of peace, of stillness - one (1) minute on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

How can we avoid conflict and tension in the world? How can we cultivate peace and keep it in our hearts and minds? To be continued ...