Be the Cause

Peace Is Every Step

“Every day we do things, we are things that have to do with peace. If we are aware of our life, our way of looking at things, we will know how to make peace right in the moment, we are alive.” Thich Nhat Hanh

A few thousand people have gathered sitting silently, with our eyes closed, sitting on a grassy hill top while listening to a petite nun, modestly dressed in a chestnut brown robe with matching headscarf, leading us in a guided meditation. This morning starts with the clear chime of a bell. This is no ordinary walk — rather it is a silent, unhurried, meditative walk for peace.

Finishing the guided mediation the entire group gathers quietly and waits to begin the actual walk. We are led by a small framed Vietnamese monk, whose smooth skin and ease of movement belie his age of eighty years old. He is Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, a prolific writer and a peace activist and we are in MacArthur Park, in Los Angeles, to participate in this event aptly entitled, Peace is Every Step.

So we begin with small, stilted steps. I start to wonder if I am going to have the patience to move at a pace that is set by someone other than myself. I tend to walk fast, with long strides, trying to arrive quickly wherever I am headed. At first, to me, the pace seems almost lethargic, and definitely slothlike. But I try to remain patient, and about twenty, or so, minutes in, as we finally start to leave the gathering point and spread out, I begin to breathe more easily. We slowly wind our way around the perimeter of the park, thousands of us, and I begin to accept this somewhat awkward pace, realizing arriving at the finish in record time should not be my goal. I begin to feel something seep into me, a sense of ease.

Tha^y, meaning teacher, which Thich Nhat Hanh is affectionately referred to, asked us to say the following as we walked, I have arrived, I am home. As I repeat these words, while placing each foot carefully on the ground, I start to feel, really feel, the earth under my feet, each of my breathes is growing deeper with each deliberate footstep. This calm and acceptance makes me realize this is both an Lose Weight Exercise in restraint and of awareness, meant to bring each of us out of our thoughts into the present moment. It dawns on me that it really does not matter how long it takes to get from start to finish. I am becoming more aware of the journey in between. Instead of quickly moving, noticing very little around me, I am starting to instead observe — the bustling neighborhood and the many people striding its sidewalks, the colorful buildings of this predominantly Latino neighborhood with music blaring from storefronts and upstairs windows, the uplifting signs along the route attached to the trees, and the serpentine chain of silent walkers — actually being present for moments at a time in the here and now.

So what does walking slowly and silently have to do with peace and service…? Everything. During the walk I passed a brightly colored, yellow sign written in beautiful, scrolling, calligraphy that stated “Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I smile”. I felt the tremendous amount of powerful energy generated by this entire group of walkers. Energy that was immeasurable, but discernable none the less. This short journey made me ponder that one can only give what one already possesses. In order to contribute to a peaceful world, to be compassionate and genuinely giving, peace and compassion has to reside in our own hearts first — in the words of Gandhi, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

As I continued along the route I spotted another sign stating “There is beauty above me and below me. There is beauty behind me and in front of me” – peace, beauty, compassion are not things out of reach, outside myself, they are all around me and within each of us, in the people in front and behind us, in the tall trees, and the towering seamless sky and the gentle earth supporting each footfall — we just have to slow down and breathe, find our peaceful space within — and be here, now.

Watch a beautiful video of the Peace Is Every Step Walk in Los Angeles

Posing for Yoga in Marina Del Rey

Yesterday felt very peaceful and relaxing. This month’s sacred site arranged by a few sacred site gurus was located up in Marina Del Rey. On the drive up, some of us carpooled…we had our choice of four sets of directions, food in the trunk for the potluck…everything was very much harmonious. As we turned into the parking lot, I immediately felt myself unwind and feel a bit tranquil. We headed toward the ivy covered building and met our host…this yoga teacher with some very interesting stories, named Revity. We filled out liability forms and in the meantime, more sacred site be the cause attendees poured in. In the beginning of the workshop, we all introduced ourselves as we sat in a circle on multi-colored circular pillows. Some mentioned their history with Be the Cause, and many spoke of their yoga experience. Some attendees were taking a class for their first time, and others have taken yoga for more than four years. Revity then gave a very informational talk on the history of yoga and its benefits for health and longitude in this life. She spoke of God versus Deities and the similarities and dissimilarities. She pointed to beautiful pictures that graced the walls surrounding us and spoke of the historical and symbolic components that each image represented. Some images represented divine love, others represented warrior/warrioress energy, and some represented “removal of all obstacles” such as in the image of the Indian God, Ganesh. The pictures on the wall were some that I’ve seen before and others that I have not. The colors, textures, and cleanliness of this studio created a feeling of peace. Even while we did the yoga poses, a woman sang beautifully outside of the open door leading to the parking lot, and this also added an element of grace.

As in all sacred sites, there are some who are very knowledgeable of the subject at hand, and some who are not. I am interested in all religions, but there are many I’ve been to that I am very new to. This was one that I didn’t have as many questions on. Although I’ve been to many yoga classes and have heard most of what Revity spoke of, I was happy to hear it again and hear a different voice speak about all of this information. It was nice to hear about all the deities and all of the historical background. During the actual yoga class, we did Sivassana (relaxed pose-lying on back) a few times. Every time I thought the class was going to be short…just a short intro. No such luck. Our yoga instructor took us through many Sun Salutations and various other poses such as the tree pose, lunges, and stretches. This young woman had a light way about her, with a nice sense of humor, so I found the whole class interesting and enlightening. What was very useful was the breathing Lose Weight Exercises she showed us. Even though breathing in yoga is a must and can’t really be done without it, sometimes I find myself not fully breathing. Without breathing fully in yoga, one can’t get through the poses adequately. There are times when a student has to hold a pose for quite awhile. The breathing helps to transcend the difficulty sometimes of holding this pose. I felt Revity let us stay in a pose for the perfect amount of time, and gingerly moved us along into another pose. She walked around the room and corrected posture by gently pulling a student’s shoulders back, or helping a student better lean into his or her practice.

After this wonderful class, we all clapped, said “Namaste” and decided to have our potluck in the front room that leads to the studio we were just in. There were many dishes to choose from including chocolate cake at the end for dessert. Fortunately, Revity was able to join us for the potluck and as we all sat together, she shared image filled stories of some remarkable traveling she’s done. The chocolate cake also had its place because there was a birthday in the house. We sang an early Happy Birthday to Mike and then joined together one last time for a group photo.

With some pamphlets and LA yoga mags in hand, the participants of this sacred site left for home with a renewed sense of energy and peacefulness abounding.

Thank yous to: Stacey, Jason, Bharti, Angela–am I leaving anyone out? for putting together this beautifully organized Sacred Site visit!! In gratitude…

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