We can start to heal the world by developing our own inner peace. Even if we cannot change the world right away we can contribute by first creating an island of peace in our own lives.
A world in need
If 2020 will long be remembered as the year that unleashed the pandemic, it also saw multiple social crises, and ominous climate events. The complex issues the world faces need clear-sighted cooperation, between states and individuals, and finely tuned answers. Unfortunately, we live in a world of sound bites, tweets, a shortening of the attention span and a willingness to follow easy formulas and bizarre theories that correspond to preconceived prejudices.
To not get lost in the midst of the instability, there is an ever greater need to renew ourselves, to meet the challenges by finding our own inner strength and taking a break from the chatter, or sometimes the roaring, of outside influences.
Kindness to ourselves
Let’s make 2021 a year of kindness. Whatever the world at large does, we can make a start, by firstly being kind to ourselves. This requires listening to the state of our mind, listening to our body, and taking time to nourish our inner life each day. A regular practice of meditation provides the stability and resilience that we need.
Imagine Clarity’s series, Meditate Day by Day
, proposes short daily meditations with clear instructions. Each day’s meditation builds on what has already been learned. With the first month-long course, Meditation Practice Foundations
, even complete beginners can learn the essential techniques and develop their skills with confidence. Meditators who have been disappointed by other approaches or whose meditation has become rusty have found their practice clarified and revitalized.
Taking time each day to rest in the present moment, without being drawn into the torrent of conflicting demands on our attention, is an act of healing whose effects go beyond the time when we are meditating. The freedom which comes from that basis of stability naturally underpins everything we do. With mindfulness we become aware of the way thoughts and emotions constantly arise and subside in the mind. As we come to a deeper understanding of the processes of our own experience, we are less confused and can create a spacious sense of inner clarity.
In his course Observing the Mind
, Alan Wallace likens the space of the mind to a stage: “Actors appear on the stage of the mind, perform their roles, and then vanish back into the space”:
Let your first response be to relax, to release whatever captivated your awareness, and to return to the present moment. Whatever thoughts and images arise, just let them be, observe how they arise, how they are present, how they disappear.
Through observing our mind in meditation we can then develop mindfulness in our daily life. We start to see how our mental states, our ideas and emotions, even momentary, affect our interactions with those around us. If we look and listen carefully, we can see the web of interconnectedness, and how we are all affecting each other all the time. We are aware of how, just like us, others are subjected to the streams of thoughts and emotions arising in their minds.
Each person’s emotions and reactions have an underlying history. Each individual is being influenced by other individuals and by ever-changing events. Everything is constantly in motion in an ongoing trajectory. Just to see more clearly how this unfolds is a precious aid to being able to navigate the challenges we face with skill and compassion.
Our common ground
When we see how anxiety, anger and ignorance arise, and how everyone is the victim of their own uncontrolled mental states, we feel a poignant and far-reaching compassion. We feel sad that we cannot fix everything but we can be inspired by the sense of the common ground that we share with everyone else on this planet.
As always, coming to a crisis point is a wake-up call to look for something new. The shock of being surrounded by mortal sickness, and of seeing the unleashed power of the forces of nature, awakens a wider appreciation of the imbalances that we have created ourselves as humans and a desire to do better.
To quote the Dalai Lama:
Human beings are social animals and heavily interdependent. Climate change threatens us all. It’s one of those natural challenges that teach us that we must work together, making a common effort to reach a common goal. A more peaceful world and a more peaceful century require that we rely not on weapons but on developing a widespread inner peace.
Developing our own inner peace automatically affects those around us. Our courage relieves others’ stress. Our tolerance and our ability to listen calmly encourages others to do the same. Even if we cannot change the world right away we can contribute by creating an island of peace in our own lives.
Let’s revive our courage with Matthieu Ricard’s inspiring video message
introducing Imagine Clarity:
We should never get discouraged that we cannot change the world, because it begins with us, and slowly when like-minded people get to a critical mass, we can have a change of culture. It does start with oneself, there’s no other way!
Photo: Matthieu Ricard
If you have friends that might benefit from Imagine Clarity’s approach to meditation, they can discover a sample of its rich and diverse content for free by simply signing up. The selection includes the first week of the Meditation Practice Foundations course, Taming the Mind, which is in itself a complete introduction to meditation.
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