“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” a quote often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, is perhaps more relevant today than ever before. If we want to bring about peace in an increasingly complex world – a world saddled with the challenges of climate change, regional conflict, and income inequality – where do we start? Is it possible that finding peace in ourselves can realize peace in the world? This question becomes only more urgent when we consider the children who will inherit these challenges. The World Inner Peace Day (WIPD), celebrated on the 21st of March, is a unique worldwide initiative that seeks to answer this question, by bringing meditation to schools. Through this program, students are taught a simple, time-honored, and scientifically validated meditation technique called Sahaja Yoga Meditation (SYM). Students experience a sense of peace, confidence, and increased compassion, all of which manifest spontaneously through the deepening of self-awareness. Since the first WIPD in 2013, over 50,000 students have experienced the benefits of this form of meditation in almost 50 countries. (For more information, please visit:http://www.innerpeaceday.org/en/)
Sahaja Yoga Meditation has been practiced all over the world since its founding in 1970 by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi. Classes are always taught free of charge, as a core philosophy of this practice is that this sense of peace and balance is a birth-right, and cannot be sold. Practitioners, of all ages have consistently reported profound transformations in their physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Scientific studies have shown that SYM has a wide range of health benefits including stress relief, reduced asthma, better managed epilepsy, improved attention and focus in children suffering from AD/HD, alleviated depression, enhanced emotional resilience, and better results in overcoming addiction to alcohol and drugs. (See links to studies, below.) These kinds of changes are evident both in long-term practitioners as well as those who have attended a few classes. One SYM class in Salem, MA is being offered to a group of participants who have previously attended or are still in a drug/alcohol addiction recovery program, and has met with encouraging results so far. One participant explained that even after being ‘clean and sober’ for the past 14 years, she had always been riddled with ungrounded fears and anxieties that were preventing her from feeling at peace. Since she started meditating a little over a year ago, her ability to overcome these fears has improved dramatically. “[Through Sahaja Yoga Meditation], my relationships with people have grown deeper and stronger,” she says, adding: “If in one year I have reaped all these benefits I can hardly imagine what more is to come.” (Contact info below.) She now teaches meditation in Salem. Her students include those facing struggles with addiction, similar to what she faced in the past.
We can agree that the world we face over the next century may seem far from peaceful, and that the “changes we wish to see,” are profound. But the events planned at schools and community centers throughout the Boston area, in honor of World Inner Peace Day, seek to offer a powerful and practical way to “be the change we wish to see,” by establishing that peace within.
In Massachusetts, classes are offered on a weekly basis at the following locations and times:
Wednesdays 4:30 – 5:30 pm at Boston Public Library – South End branch
Saturdays 11:15 am – 12:15 pm at Beverly Cooperative Bank Community Room, 87 Lafayette Street, Salem MA
Tuesdays 7 – 8pm at Fitch Room, The Bedford Center, 12 Mudge Way, Bedford MA
For more information on classes in and around Boston, email: YogaMass@gmail.com