Chances are, this year on the weekend of Sept 11th, you saw countless footage of planes flying into the World Trade Center, or the protests at Ground Zero about the controversy of whether a Muslim Community Center should be built in Lower Manhattan.
Did you know that on the same weekend over 80,000 People attended the 12th annual Power to the Peaceful Festival in San Francisco? Power to the Peaceful is an annual event bringing hundreds of thousands of people together under the theme of MUSIC, NON-VIOLENCE, CONSCIOUSNESS AND ACTION. Michael Franti, who Headlines the festival captures the overall sentiment when he says, “As a musician and a man, I more than anything else want to be a unifier. I want to bring people together through music and its unique power. And I hope that somehow that sense of unity extends beyond the music.” I had the privilege of seeing Michael Franti & Spearhead play in Atlanta this summer. The love, generosity, and authentic joy that he shared with the audience will stay with me for a long time as an example of how to embody peace and grace.
This week, the yoga community participated in the Global Mala Yoga for Peace Project. The purpose of the Global Mala Yoga for Peace is to unite the global yoga community from every continent, school or approach to form a “mala around the earth” through collective practices based upon the sacred cycle of 108 on Sept. 19th, 20th or Fall Equinox as the yoga world’s offering to further the UN International Peace Day. Each center offers their form of a Yoga Mala according to their yoga tradition and inspiration and can be dedicated to practice or to practice and seva – service by integrating local action, and raising funds for the organization of their choice.
•108 Sun Salutations (or variations of 27, 56)
•108 rounds of mantra such as the Gayatri or Maha Mrityanjaya
•108 rounds of a kriya
•108 minutes of meditation, kirtan or movement meditation
At The Yoga Source in Snellville, GA, where I am a student, a studio full of glorious women, offered up 108 sun salutations and donations to a local food pantry. Through aching arms and shaking legs we persevered, hoping that this small action contributed to raising the planetary vibration, or at least our own, as we sweated in our lair, sheltered from the barrage of negativity for at least a few hours.
Another amazing event taking place over this past week is A Global Telesummit for Building a Network of Peace, presented by The Peace Alliance and the Shift Network. Almost 20,000 people from more than 129 countries registered for PeaceWeek, which unites pioneers from around the world together for the largest virtual peace summit ever created, culminating with the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21st, which was established in1981 by the United Nations General Assembly as an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire. It is a celebration and exploration of everything that is working to foster peace, from the family level to whole nations.
Yet, despite all of these events taking place, what continues to dominate the stories in the media? Tthe divisive accounts of politics and protests, and fear provoking reports of crime, bloodshed and poverty. Barbara Kingsolver describes yellow journalism in the 1940s in her novel The Lacuna, “Our opposing parties sling absurd pronouncements back and forth which everyone pretends carry real weight. The newsmen leap on anything…assertions that can’t be proven but sway opinion; (They) have to speak without a moment’s pause for gathering wisdom. Falsehood and inanity are preferable to silence. The talkers are…rising above the thinkers.” This sounds eerily relevant today.
“Turn on, tune in, drop out” is a counterculture phrase coined by Timothy Leary in the 1960s. He was using it to advocate the use of LSD, and the meaning of his original intention is often misinterpreted, but I think that phrase is very appropriate these days to describe our relationship with the television and media. We are in remote control mode so much of the time, flicking and absorbing, rather than giving ourselves the time and silence that we need to connect to our inner selves, exercise critical thinking, and be an active participant in our lives.
As the Fall Television season commences and we are choosing what to spend our time watching, let’s be aware of what we are letting into our consciousness, and not risk being lulled into complacency or whisked into a frenzy by the hyperbole. It’s not that we want to turn a blind eye to human suffering, but as illustrated above, we are not always given the full picture, and we need to seek out the full spectrum, and see the hope and beauty of humanity as well.
Now off to watch Glee…