Peace on Earth

As International Peace Day approaches, I find myself Googling a rather existential question: “Has the world ever been at peace?”

According to this New York Times article, humankind has only succeeded at avoiding conflict for 268 of the last 3,400 years — a mere 8 percent of recorded history. This initially struck me as a grim harbinger of the future. After further consideration, it also inspired hope. After all, many people believe there has never been a time without war.

What would happen, I wonder, if 8 percent of the time I was on the verge of snapping at a loved one, I regained my composure and responded with understanding instead? And what if that person, in turn, maintained their patience with another just 8 percent of the time?

When you consider that every action has a reaction, it becomes possible to imagine that 8 percent rippling outward and growing in magnitude. Perhaps it wouldn’t usher in world peace, but it would certainly diminish a significant degree of our suffering and that of those around us.

Indeed, small changes in the way we think, feel and act in our interpersonal relationships add up to larger shifts with practice. Especially when we see our outcomes improve — who doesn’t want to experience more harmony and understanding in their relationships?

I know of no better way to gain greater awareness and command of our thoughts, feelings and actions than the practice of meditation. Slowing down and creating space between thought, impulse and action offers us a chance to consciously choose peace — the kind of peace that can grow from, say, 8 percent of our lives to a peace that abides.

On International Peace Day, next Thursday, September 21, Yoga Nook teachers will incorporate a short meditation, chant or other offering in their classes to mark the day. By joining countless groups across the globe to practice peace for just a small percentage of the day, we intend to expand our personal, community and global “8 percent” into something much bigger. We hope you will join us.

Image credit: United Nations Photo via Flickr (CC)


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