Peace Is the Way

Sedona's Natural Beauty. Photo by Mel Russell

Sedona's Natural Beauty. Photo by Mel Russell

I first wrote the article Peace is the Way while serving on the board of Keep Sedona Beautiful.  I was struggling to make sense out of why some people (i.e. developers and politicians) wouldn’t want to protect the natural environment – especially in and around one of the most beautiful places, Sedona.

A few years ago, the president of Keep Sedona Beautiful, Barbara Litrell and I went to Washington DC and delivered signed petitions from thousands of citizens to Congressman Rick Renzi, and Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain .

These petitions (we carried in in suitcases) urged them to introduce legislation which would protect Sedona’s environment.  Even though these fellows helped to draft the National Scenic Area legislation, they refused to introduce it. 

Unfortunately, land developers had already gotten to them.  One call from them outshined the concerns of the 3000+ people who signed petitions.  I decided instead of trying to change people’s minds, that I would practice what I often preach, and make changes from the inside out.  I would continue to meditate and teach meditation, and that. in effect, could change the consciousness around protecting the environment  (I know that is a little woo woo, but I am writing to you from Sedona). 

In the Sedona Red Rock News  I just read that our Arizona Congressional Dist. 1 Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick [D-Ariz.] announced on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009 that she will champion the National Scenic Area legislation to protect roughly 160,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service land surrounding Sedona.

Congresswoman Kirkpatrick said she paid careful attention to the wishes of constituents in the area who wrote to encourage her to protect land situated next to Sedona in the Coconino National Forest from ever being traded to developers. 

 “The struggle for the designation has been going on for years,” said Angela LeFevre, Democrats of the Red Rocks president. “I would like to give sincere thanks to those at Keep Sedona Beautiful who have given so much of their time and energy to this cause.”

Victory…..Peace (for now).

You can visit this page to contact Ann Kirkpatrick to let her know your thoughts on the preservation of this special land. You know developers will.

World Peace via Inner Peace

Most people admit that world peace is something they’d like to see in their lifetime. However it’s not usually one of the reasons people give for wanting to learn to meditate.

Solutions to the conflict and the disasters facing the world today are on the minds of most of us. Along with hearing the news that we just might be on the brink of financial disaster, there are plenty of wars going on right now between and within nations, and then there’s the global climate change going on.

History has shown us that it’s not possible to legislate against conflict. Perhaps this is because wars are first fought in the minds of humans – and it is nearly impossible to change someone’s mind – never mind enacting legislation to change the way someone thinks.

Thoughts such as, “things should be different than they are,” “this person should act a different way,” ” they shouldn’t have done that,” “those people should believe what we believe,” or “their natural resources should be shared with us,” are the seeds of disagreement that can grow into, in extreme circumstances, war or some other calamity.

I have spent many hours trying to change people’s minds. Not only have I worked within the mind/body health field to encourage complementary medicine, I’ve lobbied for legislation to protect National Forests, conserve water, encourage commercial recycling, educate people about green building and alternative energy, and to promote humane treatment of animals. And yes, sometimes I have found myself arguing with those who don’t agree with me. Unfortunately, disagreements do not usually create peace, and they usually don’t net the results I am looking for.

Most people have heard Einstein’s assertion that goes something like this: You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.

This is why I always come back to meditation. Practicing it and teaching others how to meditate. It is different thinking…. literally. Through meditation a shift naturally occurs – instead of being at war with what is, I more easily experience a sense of peace with the way things are. This doesn’t mean I roll over and give up my convictions, but it simply means I can be more peaceful while advocating change.

In addition to finding more peace within, meditation has been touted as creating a more harmonious effect in our environment.

As long ago as 1974 people have been experimenting with meditation to create change in their own minds and their environment. Studies have shown that where the proportion of people in any community practicing a silent meditation, reached a particular threshold (about 1% of the population), changes started to occur in social trends. Crime, road accidents and hospital admissions decreased.

It may seem surprising that a few people meditating – simply meditating – not thinking of anything in particular – can, by the effect of their practice, influence the behavior of others in the environment, but it does make sense that our behavior is affected by the quality of our environment. This research gives great hope to those who have the vision of a better quality of life for humankind and all life.

When two nearby loudspeakers emit the same sound, these sound waves create a synergistic effect. They produce a sound volume equivalent to four loudspeakers (the square of the number of speakers, which is two). This is a universal principle of wave behavior, and commonly held knowledge in physics. When individuals meditating together in a group generate a ripple in consciousness or awareness, the power of their combined waves grows as the square of the number of individuals. So if four people were meditating, it could conceivably affect 16 people in their environment in a positive way.

Research confirms even relatively small groups can have enormous impact on their environment, and therefore their society.

Perhaps the reason that meditation as a means to peace hasn’t garnered much media attention is because with meditation there is no conflict, no drama, no winner or no loser, there is nothing to buy, and little money to be made from it. It is simple, anyone can do it, and it just might work. Here is my simple formula to increase peace in your life and in your environment.

1. Learn to meditate.

2. Meditate every day for at least 20 minutes

3. Meditate with a group whenever possible

4. Ask yourself, Who am I? What is my heart’s desire? What is my purpose in life? And listen

5. Speak your truth sweetly

6. Walk your talk

7. Don’t take anything personally

8. Live in the present moment- this is the only moment there really is.

(of course I have a lot more advice, but this is a start)


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