It is the eve of the International Day of Peace — a.k.a. “Peace Day” — originally created in 1981 by the United Nations General Assembly. Their goal was “to devote a specific time to concentrate the efforts of the United Nations and its Member States, as well as the whole of humankind, to promoting the ideals of peace and to giving positive evidence of their commitment to peace in all viable ways.” [*]
Peace Day is also a day of ceasefire — both political and personal. Given what’s going on in our world — i.e., more and more violence rather than less as time and life pass and we hurtle around the sun — we could absolutely use a day devoted to political and personal ceasefire.
We obviously need more than just a day — we need a lifetime, an entire future, of moment-by-moment and ongoing ceasefires. But since that’s apparently not our reality right now, we have to start somewhere. So let’s start with a day, and let’s start with ourselves.
As the folks from the Culture of Peace Initiative put it, “imagine what a whole day of ceasefire would mean to humankind.”
Yes, imagine that.
From that spaciousness, who knows what healing and transformation might arise.
Here’s an easy and beautiful way to mark the occasion of Peace Day with your family, while joining with a worldwide community of peace-loving people: As part of Peace Day 2013 (Saturday, Sept 21), millions of people around the world will practice a global moment of silence at noon in each time zone. Let’s join this beautiful intention by doing our best to remember to STOP what we’re doing for a few minutes at noon tomorrow, and perhaps take four mindful breaths, calm our bodies, minds and hearts, find a bit of peace inside, and then breathe this sense of peace outward into the world around us.
I can’t seem to shake that old hymn from my head right now…”let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me…let this be the moment now.” For it is as true a cliche as any: if we want world peace, we must start here and now with ourselves, and the violence that occurs right in our own hearts and our own minds, in the form of anger, greed, judgement, reactivity, hatred, jealousy, and all the many and varied forms of delusion we humans experience and indulge in.
So if we truly want peace, we must accept that part of our work here on this planet is to practice creating peace inside ourselves, and we must help our children learn how to do the same. The results of our commitment to and experiments with peace in our immediate sphere will certainly emanate outward and go a long way toward creating peace in our relationships and interactions with others, and, by association, in the world at large.
This is a beginning, and a very fine place to start.
Here is a very simple practice you can use to cultivate an energy of peace and calm any time within your self, or within your family. It is also useful as a grounding exercise after experiencing a period of wild emotions (tantrums, sibling fights, parent losing her/his cool, etc).
To set the stage, you might choose to have a little “peace chat” with your child(ren) exploring the meaning of the word, some examples of how it manifests (or doesn’t) in your daily life or in the world, and why it is an important value or quality.
Here are some thoughts on peace and possible inroads to a conversation with your child:
Peace is relaxed, calm, spacious, and the absence of tension or anxiety. Peace is relief — relief from conflict, turmoil, pressure, pushing, pain. Peace is harmony, and agreement.
You can think of peace as if it were a beautiful song in which all the parts resonate and blend together to make a lovely sound. Outer peace occurs when people get along, work together, collaborate, co-operate, work in harmony, behave with compassion, listen to each other, and refrain from judgement. Inner peace occurs when our mind takes a break from the drama it so enjoys creating — when we get the monkey off our backs, even for a moment.
Ask your children to describe some times where they felt a sense of peace, inside or out, and what that experience was like for them.
The opposite of peace is disagreement, disharmony, argument, tension, fighting, conflict, war — whether without or within.
Ask your children to describe some times where they felt a lack of peace, inside or out, and what that experience was like for them.
Now here is the practice.
Sit with your child and say:
It’s time to enter our quiet bodies. Our quiet bodies are always there waiting for us, like a cozy bed or comfy chair, to land into and relax. Your only job is to sit and pay attention to your breath. If you feel strong emotions moving around inside your body, that’s ok; just let them be there and remember your friend, the breath.
Now, take a deep breath. On the in breath, say to yourself, “Breathe in the peace”. On the out breath, just relax as completely as you can.
Now place your hands on your head and say, “I have peace in my mind.” Take a deep peace breath in, and out.
Next, place your hands on your heart and say, “I have peace in my heart.” Take a deep peace breath in, and out.
Then, place your hands on your belly and say, “I have peace in my body.” Take a deep peace breath in, and out.
Next, place your hands on your thighs/knees and say, “I have peace in my family.” Take a deep peace breath in, and out.
Finally, fold your hands together, or hold hands with each other, and say, “We have peace in our world.” Take a deep peace breath in, and out.
After this, it is nice to take four mindful breaths together in silence.
Relax and sit for a few moments noticing the sensations in your body. Smile at each other 😉
May you be peaceful!
With love, Charity
All words copyright 2013 Charity Kahn.