Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thoughts on Peace 
by: Rachel Wilson

This morning, my day began in the way that my days often do.  A bit earlier than I would have liked, but otherwise-- nothing to complain about.

I sense the sound of the bedroom door opening.  
He gets very annoyed if he comes in to find that I am already awake, 
so I close my eyes and I wait.
In a moment, I feel a nose pressed against mine.   
I open my eyes to see two large, non-blinking, laughing eyeballs looking back into my own. 

Ulysses, our 6 year old son, woke me up out of anactual sleep with an eskimo kiss a few months earlier.  
It had really startled me to see these big eyes in my facefirst thing, and I had jumped.  So now he does it on purpose, just to see if he can startle me again.  He loves to make people laugh.
According to Wikipedia: "In modern Western culture, an eskimo kiss is the act of pressing the tip of one's nose against another's.  It is loosely based on a traditional Inuit greeting called a kunik. A kunik is a form of expressing affection, usually between family members and loved ones. A common misconception is that the practice arose so that Inuit could kiss without their mouths freezing together. In fact, it is a non-erotic form of greeting that serves as an intimate way of greeting one another for people who, when they meet, often have little except their nose and eyes exposed. When early explorers of the Arctic first witnessed this behavior they dubbed it Eskimo kissing."

I would like to think I have educated my children on a variety of different culture's ways to express affection.
"I am going to write about Peace this month for the April newsletter," I tell Uey. "What do you think I should I say?"

I often look to my children for inspiration. I find that their wisdom is fairly pure, as they have had less experiences within this existence to confuse or corrupt simple truth. As such, they tend to offer ideas that are really, quite profound.
"You should just talk about the peace symbol.  And the heart - for love"
Wonderful, I tell him.
He gets it!  He really gets it.  I think to myself.  The seemingly elusive peace that we seek as a global society and as individuals will never be achieved by going on and on with words.  Our endless arguments are what get us into trouble!  It is time to get back to the basics and keep it simple!

Find just one symbol or common ground on which you can stand together, and then hold on ~ for goodness sake hold on ~ to Love! 
Hallelujah. My son is a philosophical and poetic genius.  World Peace is certainly now imminent.
Both of us now adequately fortified for the day ahead, he leaps up, grinning, jumps on the bed a few times and bounds off to wake up, (and in one way or a dozen, probably torment) his ten year old sister Cali.

Uey does not like to spend mornings alone.  Come to think of it, he doesn't really ever like to be alone.   He is a mover, a shaker, and a loveable trouble maker.  He gets into everything.  He has trouble sitting still.  He sometimes has difficulty following rules.  He does not like certain fabrics and he gets hurt feelings easily.  Heinternalizes everything, so his externals seem to need to keep moving, almost always.  There is quite a lot toprocess.  He even prefers to listen to calming music instead of the guided meditation audios that his big sister is drawn to at bedtime because, as he says, "If they are talking, I can't help talking."
Ah.  I know this type.  I know this type because I am this type.
There were even some long periods in my own life that I had trouble settling anywhere, because I was so unsettled within my own mind.   Sensory processing disorder does not even begin to contain the gravity of the issues I was having.  It was more like, How can I begin to process a life that doesn't look anything like I planned, with a mind 
that feels....well...Broken?
Let me share a secret with you ~ It is very hard for a very smart person to cease to be able to identify with their own mind.
Movement has always been a part of my journey, and there was even a period of time when my main meditation practice looked suspiciously like marathoning.  Stillness evaded me, because there was too much I needed to heal from, and so many things to overcome.  I ran and I ran... seven marathons and countless miles, many beside my dad.  I signed us up for our first one in an effort to help him cross a goal off his "bucket list," but I know now that I also needed to put in all of those miles, myself.  

I still believe that running is a great way to begin to find peace within.
Back to this morning.  As I began to get ready for the day, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the bathroom mirror.  I had slept in an old T-shirt that I have had for years, and that I had been wearing the evening before while hanging out with my family.  It was simple - white, with a black peace symbol - but instead of a circle, the outlining shape was a heart.
My mind registered the image, then flashed to my proud scene mere moments before and it dawned on me.
I have brainwashed my own son.
I have to admit, I really do not like advertising.  As a
marketing graduate, I sometimes secretly wish I had stuck with Biology, my original major.  It would be so much cooler to be able to say I am a real scientist.
There were even times I felt a sense conflict of conflict in identifying with my own field at all, as I observed what the modern-day advertising, media marketing machine had evolved to become, and how so many were getting sucked into the constant social push to attain 
some bigger, better, "anti-aged," "anti-fat," "antiwrinkled," version of a self that cruises through life in a fancy new car.
Besides, as a card carrying member of the holistic movement, shouldn't I loudly scream that the television is the ultimate hypnosis-machine and that the internet is stealing our intelligence?!  The electromagnetic radiation waves alone are blasting our brains with harmful ions, but that is a topic in itself!
According to Lee
"The psychological basis of suggestibility is simply a tendency in human nature to believe any statement that is repeated a great number of times. This tendency to believe has nothing to do with the 'truth' (or otherwise) of the statement. Reasons for believing the statement to be true or false are not taken into account; the statement is believed solely because it is repeated many times."
Mere moments before, I had been skipping along, the mother of the year award all but in my pocket, for raising an intelligent son who knows what matters in a culture filled with miscommunications and dissonance.  
A real independent thinker, I've got here!  And that is what we are after, right?  I mean, I would never, ever want to force my ideas on anyone, that's for sure... and especially not on my own kids!  I want them to choosefor themselves, fight for themselves, BE UNIQUE, stand up and stand out!  Because all of that is what matters, isn't it?!?  It doesn't matter what we are, as long as we are different!!!
Can I be honest for a moment here?  
so hard to be 
different has gotten downright exhausting.
Please don't get me wrong.  I still believe there are times we need to fight for freedom when justice is violated.  Lifeliberty and the pursuit of happiness are wise ideals to live by, and I still long to say that I am proud to be an American.
But we've got research to back this.  Subtle suggestion is real, my friends, and our environmental exposures and both positive and negative relationships have been shown to affect our own thoughts and behaviors in a big way.
Have we been brainwashed?  
And if we have, is there anything we can do about it?  I know that I, for one, do not want to put NOTHING out there into the "impressions give my kids"category.  With all the negativity out there, I almost feel it's my job to counter it with some positive.  
Perhaps I can try to consistently share a creative and positive message, every day that I am alive.
Here's one: 
I think it is time for us to all give peace a chance.  
I believe a lot of our issues come down to a deep sense of inner turbulence that may, at least in part, stem from constant exposure to negative surroundings.  This shaky felt sense of tranquility continues to be compounded by many, many mis-communications.  Perhaps if we could find a new sense of open-ness, insight, or clarity, we could begin to feel a little more peaceful.  In my experience, when we feel peaceful on the inside, we are better able to make a difference in helping those around us to find some peace, as well.
Now, I hate to be the one to have to bring up this issue, but I think it's time to wonder if maybe, we have been allowing ourselves to be brainwashed into feeling unnecessarily seperate from one another.  It is a little sad to think that our own brains could hold the key to the root of so many of our problems, and we may have become just a bit too numb, or too busy to notice.
According to Bruce Davis, Ph. D., "When we have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day, this means between 35 and 48 thoughts per minute per person. The steady flow of thinking is a thick filter between our thoughts and feelings, our head and heart. The constant mental traffic prevents us from seeing clearly, listening deeply, and feeling our well of being.  Taking time to nurture the silence of our heart and new life is growing. We begin to be very present, including present with one another.  In the presence of our loved one, there is no limit to the wonder, appreciation, life's simple being. Silence and the stars are seen once again."
As I ponder this idea, I find myself wondering.   
Has our desire to become strong, independent thinkers kept us from acknowledging the vastness of our similarities?  
Perhaps we have tried very hard to be very different from each other, and in doing so, we have very much forgotten that we are all, at the deepest level,very much the same.
These days, our differences seem to be big and painful enough to make us want to run for cover.
"I have to stay off facebook - there is too much drama."  "I can't talk to my parents anymore.  They don't support my choices." "I refuse to watch the news, it makes me really depressed."
These sentiments are ones I have heard from dozens of members of the Om my Yoga community, in the past month alone.  It seems to me, that most of us are seriously experiencing the affects of a lot of negative 
I like to think of myself as a positive person.  A "glass is half-full" kind of a girl.  As a marketing-student turned yoga teacher in a world full of messages, I've found myself  asking lately if I should begin to contribute something positive to the regularly scheduled programming. 

Should I actually try to market the  

of Peace
When exploring any vast and important subject, I like to start with what I do know. 
So lets talk about what it feels like to have 
no peace.
Peace-less-ness is a root issue.  There is a distinct sense of not-belonging.  Anywhere.  Cultural community has let you down. You no longer identify with your own country as always-heroic, because you have witnessed every head of every government make at least a few poor choices.  Important relationships have come and gone, and even friends you thought you could count on may have run on ahead, dropped back behind, or taken an alternate route that no longer parallels your own. Career may have proved to be non-fulfilling at best, or frustrating and anxiety-inducing, at worst.  Money has either run so high or so low that you can no longer hope that any legal exchange currency holds the key to a life of contentment and tranquility.  For some of us, there comes a moment where there is no more "felt-sense" of belonging in this world or life, at all... but rather, a disturbing feeling of being uprooted.
We ask ourselves the big question, "Where do I belong?" But then we look around and say "not here."
So we ask ourselves 
"Who am I?"
Oh, we've made it all the way to the age-old identity question.  Even Socrates tried to sum up all that mattered with
"I think, therefore I am."  Or was it... I am... therefore I think?
I have never been great at remembering all of those literary details.
Anyway, since I am asking you all to take a look inside, I will take a moment to share a bit of my own guts, as well.
I am a mother.  I simply adore my two children -  but not because of anything they do or do not do, not because of anything they might become and in spite of anything I might have to eventually forgive them for.  I love them.  I will not say that I am defined by them, though they have taught me much about myself and the world, and I am infinitely better because of them.
I am a "Yoga Teacher." I laugh a bit at the audacity of claiming that title as an identity, considering the fact that the ancient Sanskrit word "Yoga" translates to mean "Union" or "To Yoke."
As long as I'm sharing secrets today... I've got another one.
I did not even know what the word "Yoga" meant, when I taught my first Yoga class.
I was 21.  I had taken a weekend yoga workshop that sought to equip personal trainers and other fitness-industry professionals to add "Yoga-teaching" to their list of skills. I had just finally found some sense of 
balance in my own life after a particularly difficult personal period, and I happened to have found it at a really wonderful fitness center.  I decided I would work there.  The owner told me they needed a stronger "Mind-Body" program.  I wasn't totally sure what that latest fitness catch-phrase was about, but I needed something to do with my life when it had all but fallen apart.  So I went to my first two-dayYoga workshop and my first Pilates training in the same month.  
Joseph Pilates, by the way, had a fantastic understanding of the Yogic System of the Bhandas.  His work on the "Core" strikes me as an incredible life-long thesis on our deepest physical Asana support structure.  I never understood why the Pilates crowd and the Yoga crowd couldn't just see they were basically saying a lot of the same things and all just get along...
I began to study anatomy deeply and became a certified Personal Fitness trainer, all within that first year.  My yoga journey grew to include therapeutic studies, as the body's capacity to heal itself became more and more central to my work, and to my very existence.
I pursued my education on all three fronts, and I studied various forms of spirituality and eastern and western psychology and 
philosophy. I am a knowledge lover, and I do not like to explore any subject half-way.  Yoga, Pilates, structural and energetic anatomy, and eventually, full spectrum study of Yoga Therapy helped me to add experience to my new vocation. I traveled near and far to get training and experience whenever I could, and in between, I read much on all of these subjects, while concurrently integrating them into my own practice.
I had an opportunity to train many people at the fitness center, for many years, often one on one.  They were all very different.  They had a lot of different names, a lot of different physical issues, a lot of different dreamsand a lot of different stories.  
I listened to every one.
I guess I shouldn't feel that bad.  I mean, ok.  It is pretty bad that I taught a class that was called something, without having first taken 
the time to look up what the word even meant.  But then again, if I had known then what "Yoga" was about, I don't think I would have had the courage to begin to share ANY aspect of this practice, so young.
Really, how many 21 year olds do you know who would claim they are ready to make a contribution to the community on a topic as big as "Oneness?"
My earliest "students" were probably more patient than I even realized with my own learning process.  I know if I had really thought too hard about the task I was getting into, I probably would not have had the courage to leap, at all.
Who am I?  I'm a work in progress.  I think we all are.
I remember the first time I learned that a friend could hurt my feelings.  
I was in 4th grade and had, for just a few days, the possession of a gift I really treasured.  The year was 1992 and she had given me a memento bracelet from the recent Gulf war.  It was meant to be a symbol of our friendship. As the granddaughter of a proud Marine, I knew what a token of this magnitude represented. 
When there is war, there is loss.  
I would honor this treasure, indeed.
The next day, she informed me that I would need to give the bracelet back. I was old news or something, and she wanted to pass the gift on to a new friend.  I was broken. Devastated.  I felt confused, and I took my deep hurt to my own father for advice.  I remember him telling me he would buy me any bracelet I ever wanted.  Believe me when I say that my Father's generosity extends well beyond mere trinkets - those who know him can attest to this fact.  He proceeded to educate me about friendship,familyfaith, and pretty much everything that matters in life.  
My dad is a pretty great guy.  He actually IS a real scientistand an inventor.  He always tried to help me believe I could have anything I wanted in this world.

I want world peace.  
I gave back the bracelet and silently forgave this girl.  I think I may have even ended up becoming fairly good friends with her again, in another chapter, some years later.  I always fancied myself to be a sort of "Peacemaker."  
Even at my tiny school, I did my best to cross cultural and socio-economic groups and not hold grudges against anyone.  There were so few of us where I was from, and we were all so very different... I didn't see the point of not at least trying to get along with everyone.  Even now, I can not put my friends and acquaintances into any particular "group."

The only defining 
characteristic I would give them is that they are, indeed, diverse.
I remember the first time I felt like even love could be lost. Ok, I had not actually lost my love, personally, but my dear friend (who had actually been more like a sister to me) had lost the man she thought she was destined to marry, in a seemingly pointless and tragic car accident on the way home from a spiritual leadership conference.   
An incredible rising star was senselessly killed by a drunk driver
This happened on my 19th birthday.  I will never forget the funeral that we attended that summer at the Annapolis Naval Academy.  I watched my friend toss a red rose down onto the lid of her beloved's casket and looked off into the sky throughout the 21 gun salute.  It seemed that surely, one of the last great Americans had died.  I kept on asking why so many bad things seemed to happen to such good people
We all grieved together.
Forty days later, the World Trade Centers came crashing down.  My motherwent rushing straight in to Manhattan, to pull my brother and his room-mate out of the city.  They had witnessed the entire catastrophe from their city high-rise. The whole world sought to find a way to move forward, stunned.  
Thank heavens for Enya. 
We all grieved together.
At the time, I had no idea that I would bring a daughter into this world less than one year later.  I met Ulysses four months after 9/11. He was an All-American wrestler.  Many Division 1 universities had recruited him, so I am not quite sure how he ended up here in my little Pennsylvania town at a fairly small liberal arts college. He says he felt drawn to work with the University's head wrestling coach.  But then he broke his back in a practice his freshman year. I had never seen such a gifted athlete handle such a devastating and life-altering injury with such dignity.  He seemed to take everything in stride.
I began to hope that maybe, even if something badhappened, something good could still come out of it.  
I should mention that the same friend I referred to earlier came over to encourage me during a difficult time of depression and anxiety in my own life.  She shared with me that the previous year, when her hope had seemed lost, she had written a list of 100 things for which she was grateful.  I have used this practice of keeping a gratitude list during many times of personal darkness since.  This inspiring woman is now married to a loving and wonderful emergency room doctor from Johns Hopkins. They have done extensive humanitarian relief work around the globe, and they have three beautiful children.  That entire family is on my list of personal heroes.
I do not believe we will ever find peace if we do not first choose to love.   Not to throw those Beatles under the bus here, but wasn't it John Lennon himself who suggested to us that "All you need is Love?"   
I remember the first time the concept of Love was presented to me as a choice.  It was in a book called "The Five Love Languages" that outlined many of the issues that can arise when we communicate the same thing in different ways, and how we might be able 
to overcome this dilemma.
I think I may finally be ready to cast a vote in this far too-lengthy, internal-made-external conversation about peace.  
I would like to cast my vote for less words, and more symbols.  The peace symbol, to start.  And theheart, for love.  What I mean to say, I suppose, is that I'd like to see less arguing so we have more time to take real, positive, productive action.
Am I even allowed to still wish for peace, on earth?  
I don't really know.  If I've learned anything in my life so far, it's that every time I think I know something, the rules seem to change.  I already admitted that I never really liked rules, and maybe that is why there were some days that I was actually VERY tempted to give up on life, myself.  Since I am still standing here, I know I am not allowed to give up.
So I will hope for my children.  I will hope to give them a better home here on this planet I've been on for a little while.   I hope to contribute helpful information to the understanding of the human condition, and I would like to raise awareness to break the stigma andfear that surround mental illness.  
   I would like to advocate on behalf of the many inspiring causes that I have encountered through the people I meet at the studio, and I even have a dream to take the Om My Yoga Karma Project well beyond the walls of our building and get involved in some serious and gritty world service.  I would like to be a part of creating a world with no boundaries, no hatred, and no limits.

Maybe in this community, I can help to create a little pocket of peace and we will raise enough positive vibrations to play some small part in the facilitation of total world healing.  
Or maybe I am daydreaming again.....
This Saturday at 8:30 PM, I will take part, with my family, in an hour that represents something much bigger than myself.  The hour, quite appropriately, is called "Earth hour."  Please indulge me as I share their tagline here.  
"Be a Superhero for the Planetand use #YourPower."
My brother was the first one to get our family to turn off the lights 7 years ago for this annual event.  As an Environmental Science loverhe has always called us toaction on global conservation.  We had candle-lit poker tournaments in the dark before going green was chic. He has always been an early adapter and an environmental advocate.  
My sister, I will mention, is a public relations executive who gave up city life after several years each in both the Big Apple and in LA. She now lives, practices yoga, works and regularly spots humpback whales with her super-cool fianc? in Maui. It isn't easy being green, but I am here to tell you that some of us still do try.
I encourage everyone to celebrate Earth Hour with us this year.  It's quite simple, really.  You give up something you have come to believe you need, for one hour of your life.
I know, it probably seems a little ridiculous that we pat ourselves on the backs for making such a small sacrificial contribution, but like any forward thinking mother of a "difficult to manage" six year old - I have become a strong supporter of allpositive reinforcement.
I believe that enough positive messaging can overcome a tremendous amount of negative programming.
You can join in this Save-the-Earth project with some friends or a loved one, sharing an old-fashioned conversation, and taking time out to connect to another living being without hiding behind the screen of an electronic device. You can celebrate this year's Earth Hour by doing something as archaic as lighting a candle, grabbing some paper and a pen, and writing about what "Peace" means to you.  My grandmother taught me to journal every day, and I can see now that this was sage advice.  
Maybe you will find yourself reflecting on the importance of "Light" and the meaning of "Darkness" and it might get really philosophical around here while we pitch in to save the planet.

You can enjoy Earth hour in your own unique way, because I think that what makes life special is that we all do and see things very differently.  And I have always been one to believe that we should celebrate our differences.
The point in this whole message, is to offer some hope that at least someone down here still believes there might eventually be something worth celebrating again - not just for an hour each year, but all day, every day. I love a good party, and if there is rumor of arevolution, I certainly want to make sure I am invited to that event. Maybe I can even be on the planning committee.  
I am ready to give peace a chance.  Who's with me?
I would Love if we would all join in, as One.

1 comment:

  1. I am so happy to have found this blog, it has stirred up many emotions and so happy that there ARE others in the same town all about peace, love and healing. Thank you for sharing this amazing 'write up', much appreciation. Namaste _/|\_