If we want more love in our lives, we must become more loving; if we genuinely want to end terrorism and to bring real and peaceful change to the world, then we have to change from being concerned with our own needs to reaching out and helping each other. As Ed often says, when we make peace with ourselves, there is one less person suffering.
For kindness and compassion to become a natural expression of who we are, we may need help, guidance, and support. Meditation in its many forms is the one method we have found that does all of this. When we get to know ourselves more deeply we discover that we are more than we thought we were, that we have the resources, strength, and wisdom to not only make changes but to become the change we so long for.
It is a special month for us as our book, Be the Change, is published (see below). And so Deb felt that we should highlight seven great women in the book, women who are movers and shakers and who are deeply influenced by the invaluable benefits of meditation. There are many other brilliant and wonderful women who are also contributing to change in this way who are in the book as well.
We begin with Marianne Williamson, uplifting and inspirational speaker, and author of numerous New York Times bestsellers, including The Age of Miracles:
Einstein said that we cannot solve the problems of the world from the level of thinking that we were at when we created them. A different level of thinking means a different level of thinking. It does not mean just a different kind of thinking. It does not mean a different emphasis in our thinking. It does not mean a more loving kind of thinking. It means what he said, a different level of thinking, and to me that is what meditation brings.
Meditation can change the world because meditation changes us. That is the point. It returns us to our right mind, and until there is this evolution in consciousness, we will stay locked in a fear-based perspective in which we continue to see ourselves as separate from each other, and in which we continue to think that we can do something to someone else and not reap the result ourselves.
Seane Corn, Innovative Yoga Teacher, National Yoga Ambassador for YouthAIDS, and co-creator of the Off the Mat and Into the World campaign:
First yoga changed my body; then meditation changed my attitude. Then I realized that whether my practice was fifteen minutes or four hours was irrelevant because it was not about how yoga can change me, but how I, through this practice, can begin to change the world. What I really felt was how dare I not step into the world and hold that space?
If what is happening on a global level is representative of what is happening on the individual level and if I want to transform what is happening globally, then I have to look within myself and see where I am separating myself from other human beings and from the earth. Where am I living in blame, in hate, in terrorism, in war, in any negative capacity toward another being? For if I am not willing to clean up the fear or the disconnect that is within myself, then I am responsible for what is happening on a planetary level.
Tami Simon, founder and CEO of Sounds True Publishing, a multimedia publisher with a mission to disseminate spiritual wisdom:
The formal practice of meditation is, for me, very important. It serves as a truth-teller, for without it, I can easily fool myself. As a driven-achiever kind of person, before I started meditating, I was unaware that most of the time I was driving situations, trying to push to do more. What I have found through the practice of meditation is that I can actually choose, at any given moment, to lean away from that need to be pushing and to rest in the back of myself. When I do that, I create the space for all kinds of things to happen, and for other people to be heard, and for the whole world to actually be heard through me, instead of living some sort of ego-driven self-centered existence.
Joan Borysenko, Inspirational Speaker and the author of many books, including the bestseller Minding the Body, Mending the Mind:
A long time ago, I came across a definition of meditation that it comes from the root meaning 'right balance.' That rang true for me because, personally, my attention is often so fragmented, egocentric, narcissistic, or self-concerned that there isn't a whole lot of inner balance or alignment with what is. Rather, I am stuck in a state of non-balance. Right balance is when my mind is not spinning out endless movies and delusions, or maybe it still is but I am just not so attached to believing them. Meditation is when I can watch stuff go by and the part of me that usually interrupts and says, 'That's a good story, or that son of a bitch, or I'm guilty and awful,' that part sits back and sees it as just one more story but without attachment to it.
Jane Fonda, Oscar winning actress and five-time Oscar nominee, social and political activist, fitness instructor and meditator:
There are practical reasons for dividing everything up. It makes things easier to manage and to solve, especially technical matters: the us and them, the either-or, the man versus nature, mine and yours. Life is simpler to deal with. But we have applied this fragmenting mindset to all of life so that it has become our reality, which has led to further fragmentation and chaos and planetary destruction. The challenge is to figure out how to deal with our day-to-day life, while at the same time changing our mindset so that we see reality as the unbroken wholeness of the totality of existence, an undivided, flowing movement without borders. Meditation connects me to a great inwardness and unity, and at the same time there is a great expansion into everything.
Debbie Ford, founder of the Ford Institute for Integrative Coaching, and the author of the New York Times bestseller The Dark Side of the Light Chasers:
Meditation is connecting to something bigger than myself. We meditate to have a shift in consciousness, to take us out of the limitations of our individual self. You know that to walk by somebody starving is to walk by yourself. You know that to judge somebody else is to judge yourself. In this place hope exists, possibility exists. This is where you know that we are here to have this human experience. Meditation is a process that makes the trip not only possible but also a little gentler.
Gangaji, international spiritual teacher and author of You Are That and The Diamond in Your Pocket:
I grew up in the south, so I was profoundly conditioned to be racist. In meditation, my conditioning became more visible, but so did the ability to discover what was behind that conditioning, which I saw was fear. Fear is about survival. When you drop under that and experience the fear without trying to change it, just letting it be, then it becomes still. When you open your heart to fear, rather than trying to fight it or deny it or even overcome it, then you find it is just energy. There is a deconstructing that happens quite naturally of our racist and nationalist views, our gender or religious views. Then we are left with what cannot be either deconstructed or constructed.
©2009 Ed and Deb Shapiro