Why To Study Peace?

As a Peruvian, all my life I have heard a lot of people referring to my country as “underdeveloped”, and I have always asked myself: in what way are we “underdeveloped”? I love and appreciate my country for many reasons, such as our spirituality, our strong connection with the land, our knowledge of a large variety of natural medicines, the history of Inca, the beauty of our natural landscapes… The list goes on and on. And then I also ask myself: why do we allow ourselves to be called “underdeveloped”?

Communication for Development

I grew up during the time of internal armed conflict in my country. It was during the civil war that started about two years before I was born and eventually began decreasing in intensity after 1992 when the leader of Sendero Luminoso was captured. Most parts of the country were devastated by the activity of three actors: Sendero Luminoso, Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru and the Peruvian military forces. The victims were mostly Quechua native speakers, farmers from rural areas, who were considered as the very “poor”.

When I had finished my secondary schooling and was able to comprehend this enormous tragedy suffered by my country, I decided to study Communication for Development. This is a specialisation in which you would learn how to create participatory processes of communication for the creation of well-being among people. During my years of study, I found myself becoming dissatisfied with the terminology used in the field of development such as “third world”, “underdeveloped” and “ordinary people” versus “experts”, and with the vertical approach experienced in development projects. I worked in several conventional projects that focused on benefiting the local community materially. In all of them I found that the detachment of most aid workers from the local community was incongruous with their purpose in being there.

The importance of a horizontal approach

It was not until I participated in a project where I shared my knowledge of yoga with young girls and in another one where I coached young adults in learning meditation, that I learnt the importance of a more horizontal approach. This prompted me to seek out methods to reduce the distance between the parties in development projects.

I have practised yoga and meditation for several years already. The most important influence on me has been the realisation that yoga and meditation are not only good for my health in reducing anxiety and developing physical strength, but that these practices also help me understand who I am, and to analyse and understand my identity as a Peruvian, a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, a friend, a professional, and many other roles I have taken on in my life. They have also helped me interact with my environment more actively. The relationship I have with myself, my family, my friends, and my community have all markedly improved.

Inner peace work in practice

I found a different relationship between aid workers and the local community in those two projects which involved yoga and meditation. It was more horizontal and respectful and contributed greatly to the strength of those projects. I asked myself if inner peace work could improve the way development is implemented in the field.

This discovery and these questions motivated me years ago to study a Master in Peace, and I was amazed to see how meditation was a part of these studies. If you want to learn more about this, I recommend you to read Many Peaces by W. Dietrich and The Moral Imagination by J. Lederach.

Prenatal Yoga Pros: Do Now, Reap Later!

Pre-birth or prenatal yoga is one of the best things that you can accomplish for yourself, and in addition for your developing infant. It’s essential that you locate the right yoga practice for you, whether it is setting off to a yoga studio, finding a DVD, or building up your own practice at home. Listen to your body and do what feels right to you. One advantage concerning yoga is: it makes you stronger everywhere. You’ll require that additional strength in your lower body to convey the additional pregnancy weight. Also, you’ll need it in your abdominal area to handle the weight you’ll be bearing for the year or so after birth, which is carrying your child.

Doctors strongly are in the favor that all pregnant women should do yoga and listed below are a couple of reasons why it’s so strongly encouraged.

Relieves back pain
Back pain is a typical pregnancy problem, frequently aggravating as the weight of the uterus and the infant in it is on the rise. Pre-birth yoga strengthens the muscles that support this weight, taking pressure off the lower back. Numerous ladies experience inflammation of the sciatic nerve during pregnancy, and yoga can likewise be awesome for this. The pigeon stance and half-moon posture can extend this range to counter agony and inversions can make space in the pelvis to diminish inflammation. To help make pregnancy easier you can also use the aid of certain items that are designed to help you ease your back pain such as maternity belts that help share the baby’s weight or you can also try some exercises to strengthen your core.

Stress levels dip
Yoga can help reduce all that anxiety and stress that you’re constantly under when pregnant. It helps you relax and gives you space you need for yourself and for your baby. Yoga makes you relatively calm so you tend to handle chaotic situations better which is vital when you have a life growing inside of you. Plus, studies have indicated that stress affects your baby’s health and the key to delivering a healthy child is to remain calm all the time.

It’s good for your hips
Pre-birth yoga can help you with flexibility, relaxation of muscles and bone structures in the front and back of the hips. Hormones discharged throughout pregnancy often unwind joints and ligament between bones in our pelvis to set it up for labor. Be that as it may, getting the muscles prepared helps in making delivery easier. Lower Body workouts and Mindful yoga practices specifically for this part of the body would be of tremendous benefit at the time of delivery as it would strengthen the center of gravity where all activities would eventually be taking place.

Reduces constant nausea

Ask any woman what the worst part of pregnancy is and they’ll tell you that it’s the constant morning sickness and throwing up. You always feel sick and certain smells make you puke instantly that aren’t actually that bad. Yoga helps with the morning sickness, it helps you feel fresher and active and there’s a significant reduction in nausea.

Helps practice breathing
Yoga as we all know is all about breathing, taking in the atmosphere, connecting to the environment and strengthening your breathing. This is very helpful during contractions and moments just before the delivery.

Balance and feet
Our feet get us around the whole day and we barely take proper care of them. The focal point of gravity in your body moves as your pregnancy advances, this changes our position and weight in our feet and joints. The two most basic issues arise during this phase are over pronation and edema. These issues can
prompt agony at the heel, arch, or the ball of the foot. Numerous ladies might likewise encounter leg cramping and swollen veins because of weight gain.

All in all, there are innumerable benefits that could be reaped once you do it while the baby is inside and the fruits of your efforts could be reaped later!

This post is written by Brittany Whistance  who is a health and lifestyle blogger currently associated with Wish Shape.

4 Easy Ways To Release After-Office Stress

Once we get into the economic society and establish a daily routine, our life becomes pretty predictable: wake up, shower, dress, eat breakfast, go to office, come back home. How do you feel once your work day is over? Do you sometimes find yourself still thinking about the work when you could actually be giving this time to yourself?

In order to give a break to your mind and avoid thinking about the work once the day is over, it is very important to create a new habit. Here I would like to share what I do on my daily life in order to stop thinking about work.

1. Find a physical activity that relaxes your mind

Doing a physical activity on your daily routine will do more than just release your stress. We always hear “healthy mind in a healthy body”, and it is true. Exercise bring a bunch of benefits such as producing endorphins that will help you be happier, regulate your calories, build strong muscles and bones and generally improve your well-being.

As a person who practices yoga I strongly recommend you to start the journey as yogi. However, if you feel like doing something more active, you may choose any of these: going to the gym, cross-fit, swimming, even dancing could be an option. 

No matter which activity you chose to practice, the important is the perseverance of doing the exercise which will allow you to make it a habit until it becomes something natural to you on your day-to-day basis, just like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. 

2. Spend time with someone you care for

Once returning home from office, many of us continue either thinking about the work or just spending time on social media or TV. We may often skip even having dinner with our family members and spend a quality time together. Here is another simple, yet important aspect that will help release after-office stress: spend time with your family or someone you care for.

There is noting more rewarding than meeting real people and sharing quality time together. Go for a dinner with your friend or have a cooked meal at home with your family. You may even organize some activity together, like going for a movie, attending a concert, or just sitting in a park, talking and enjoying the nature.

We are a part of the society and living real life apart from social media will give you fresh energy to be used for the time that you spend at the office and need to be productive again.

3. Disconnect yourself

Living in a busy life, being overwhelmed with many responsibilities and equipped with many gadgets that require our immediate attention, it is very important to allow some precious moments to absolutely disconnect from everything.

One of the main things that we usually do is to get online right after finishing our work. Though you may be using internet for personal reasons and scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram just for fun, this habit actually does not let our brain rest fully. We are still consuming information and making ourselves engaged in external events or happenings. Try to be at least 5 minutes only with yourself. It will give space in your brain to slowly connect from one activity to another. You will see how after 5 minutes of being with yourself, you will do every next activity with more awareness and enjoyment. Be aware to approach those moments of silence in the most positive way.

4. Meditate 1 minute as a first step

To meditate for 1 minute a day? Yes, start with baby steps. 1 minute meditation after finishing your office work will create an empty space in your mind that will positively help you get rid of your thoughts, but not only that. It will create a habit to consciously decide on spending time to release and relax your mind.

Meditation is a very simple tool that you can use to relax your body and the mind. The main purpose in meditation is to focus your mind on a single thought. Is it possible? Yes, eventually when your practice becomes more constant and you add more minutes to your meditation, you will be able to spend more time and train your mind to be focused on a single thought. And this is where the magic happens: when you observe your mind relaxed and concentrated, you will observe how easy your body starts to relax with every breath in and out.

No need to take your work home and stress about it. All it takes is creating a new habit which will not only make your mind and body relax; it will increase your productivity at work.

Have you tried any of these tips before? Share with us and Jason L how it was and let us know if you have ideas for more tips that could help release after-office stress.

Mi Lucha Interna Del Día A Día: Practicar Ashtanga Yoga


Cada mañana suena la alarma a las 6:00 a.m. Sin abrir los ojos y, supongo que en ese lapso de solo algunos segundos, recurren a mi mente mil y un pensamientos y excusas para no levantarme. Finalmente abro los ojos y mi primer pensamiento consciente es “PAIN” en español “dolor” (y es en inglés por ser más rítmico y rápido de asociar a ese pensamiento madrugal).

Por otros 15 minutos mientras me voy a la ducha a despertar finalmente, otra secuencia de mil y un excusas para no hacer yoga vienen a mi mente.  Para mi, cada mañana es una lucha interna mental para levantarme y hacer un esfuerzo sobrehumano para salir de casa e ir al shala (estudio de yoga) donde hago mi práctica.

El inicio

Comencé a practicar yoga en el 2004 y no me enamoré la primera vez de la práctica. El primer día apenas y pude sostener el volante para regresar a casa. El amor vino después cuando pude levantar mi pie, tomar el dedo gordo y hacer lo que nunca pude en la barra de ballet. ¡Aplausos! Estuve practicando alrededor de 6 meses, no recuerdo la razón por qué dejé de ir pero la semilla se había plantado, tardó en germinar otros años más para considerarme una estudiante de yoga.

Los años vacíos

Mi práctica varió por otro par de años, algunas veces lo hacía por algunos meses y así. Fue en el 2013 después de ir a mi primer retiro de Peace Revolution y de practicar meditación en serio que hubo una intención por querer retomar el yoga.

Entre 2015 y 2016 me vino a la mente la necesidad de ir a practicar Ashtanga a la fuente, a Mysore India; y sabía en ese momento que el camino no sería sencillo ni fácil si no hacía del yoga un hábito. Retomarlo, como la meditación cuando deja de ser un hábito, fue difícil, dolor emocional y dolores musculares varios. Si dejaba de practicar y volvía unos días después la sesión se volvía dolorosa y me sentía un costal de arena que tenía que levantar.

Flow…  o el compromiso conmigo misma

Hace casi un año sentí el flow y decidí ir a India este año para ser una estudiante más de yoga en Mysore.  Antes de irme a India, tuve la oportunidad de estar en retiros de meditación, los mismos que me ayudaron a afinar la auto observación y la contemplación.  Una vez de terminar mi temporada de maratones de meditación estuve lista para subir a un avión y continuar con el reto: 1 mes de práctica son Saraswathi Jois, hija del famoso Gurú Pathabbi Jois y mamá del Gurugui Sharat.  Después de este mes de práctica fui observando cómo mi cuerpo se fue haciendo más dócil a la práctica y como  el hecho de meditar y hacer yoga te da un estado de atención que antes no había experimentado.

Photo credits: Mmatad, me with Saraswathi Jois

Ya de regreso en casa seguí con la práctica y con mi lucha interna. A veces hay muchos distractores como en todo. Pero supongo que lo que me sigue moviendo internamente es esa necesidad de mi mente por mantenerse alerta a cada respiración, a cada movimiento y regresar a casa, meditar y sentir que se ganó una batalla más.

Desde mi muy personal punto de vista, el desarrollo personal es eso, es una lucha por continuar y por sentirse agradecido por cada nuevo hábito que pudiste mantener en el día, por esa decisión tomada y que fue la más acertada. Hasta hace poco entendí por qué mis maestros de meditación, monjes budistas tailandeses, recomendaban practicar yoga; y no fue hasta que logré una sincronía de respiración con ojos abiertos (haciendo yoga) y ojos cerrados (meditando) que vi la imagen completa.

Hacerte consciente de cuidar la mente y el cuerpo te lleva a un desarrollo de nuevos hábitos más saludables, de empatizar con las personas que están a tu alrededor y de simplemente disfrutar el momento presente, aunque el dolor y la lucha despierten al día siguiente.

Sea cual sea el deporte que practiques de forma continua recomiendo ampliamente tener espacios para tomarte una pausa, respira, duerme o medita si quieres. Hay algo que me ha marcado mucho este año y me sigue haciendo sentido, citando a Murakami El dolor es inevitable el sufrimiento es opcional.

Photo credits: Mmatad


Two Peace Agents joining forces in Spain

On September 3rd, in a small town in the southern province of Cadiz in Spain — Alcala’ de los Gazulez — two Peace Agents — Zulema and Gea — joined forces and organised a mindfulness activity for the town political meeting.

The story that enabled me to organise this small event with Zulema goes back to the International Fellowship in Thailand, ‘Peace on the move 18’, held in the Forest Sanctuary in Loei Province in which both Zulema and I met for the first time.

The fellowship is a 14 days intensive training program providing participants with deeper insight in the relationship between inner peace and sustainable world peace and enhancing their ability to create peace within their family, professional and social environment.

Last night after the fellowship, Zulema woke up early to go to the airport to take her flight back to Spain, but while packing, she forgot to take with her the PIPO book, a priceless source of wisdom taught by Luang Por Dhammajayo, the abbot of the Dhammakaya temple in Thailand, one of the most respected and experienced meditators for 45 years.

Zulema had won the book as a prize within a mindfulness context during the fellowship in Thailand. After noticing that she had forgotten it in the PIPO house, I thought it would be no problem for me to mail it to Zulema once back in Europe. But then, another thought occurred to me: why not go directly to Spain to bring the book to Zulema?

So I did. This turned out to be not only a chance to see a dear friend, but also to join forces on spreading inner peace around the world. Moreover, since Zulema is actively involved in the politic scene of her town (Alcala’ De Los Gazules), there was no better scenario than organizing a mini event in which we would share our learnings about meditation and mindfulness.

You may be wondering: what’s the connection between politics and meditation? Let me explain by sharing one of the lessons that I’ve learned from my dear teaching monk LP John during the International Fellowship in Thailand: meditation helps you clear the mind, a clear mind develops the right understanding and thus it is able to generate more positive thoughts; the positive thoughts will lead to positive speeches and the latter will bring about positive actions.

Since political leaders from big countries to small towns or villages are often people who most contribute and influence the building and development of our society, we are in need for leaders who better own the tools of right thoughts, right speeches and right actions, thus they can help to shape a better, a more peaceful and a more positive society around us.

With this in mind, during the third political meeting of the town of Alcala’ De Los Gazules, Zulema designed a full day event packed with activities, workshops and a meditation session. And I was very pleased to help with the event organization.

The program started with citizens gathering around a typical local breakfast in a bar located in the main city’s square. At 10.30 after a meditation session guided by Alejandra Barbe’ Sevilla, Peace Architect from Peace Revolution, we all had cleared our mind and were ready to discuss political issues and plan strategies for the future of the town.

After a tasty lunch followed by a nice walk around the historical city centre of the town, Zulema hosted a workshop “Los animals salen del armario” which tackled sexual diversity in the animal world.

We finished the day by refreshing ourselves in the communal swimming pool and had a yoga session guided by Zulema.

The event Program

Zulema sharing with the audience her personal experience during the International fellowship in Thailand. (Photo by Gea Bonaffini)
Online Meditation session guided by Peace Architect Alejandra Barbe’ Sevilla. (Photo by Gea Bonaffini)
The town political meeting. (Photo by Gea Bonaffini)
Zulema hosting the workshop “Los animals salen del armario”. (Photo by Gea Bonaffini)
Zulema guiding a yoga session in the patio of the communal swimming pool. (Photo by Gea Bonaffini)

Today, more than ever, our world lacks political leaders who are committed to bring real and sustainable change to our society; peace is a word we often hear about but hardly see.

We should not lose hope, because each of us can actually do something to bring the change in the world here and now and to make peace a daily reality. How?

By simply being the CHANGE THAT WE WANT TO SEE.

Did you know that you can practice Yoga online for free?

Have you been thinking about regular yoga exercise but did not know where to start? We always recommend to start with the teacher first, but if in some case live classes are absolutely out of your reach (you live in on top of a hill or you work 12 hours a day), then we encourage you to try online. Starting a yoga practice of just 10-20 minutes a day can bring about a lot of beautiful changes to your life, so get ready. Continue reading “Did you know that you can practice Yoga online for free?”

Begin Your Journey of Change in Tirana, Albania

Imagine waking up with yoga, participating in workshops about health and benefits, listening to motivational talks from inspiring speakers, conversing with Thai Buddhist monks and refreshing your mind in relaxing meditation sessions. Are you excited? Join these and other activities in the SEE Peace Summit in Tirana, Albania taking place from December 15 to 18 at the Hotel Continental, and begin your journey of a change. Continue reading “Begin Your Journey of Change in Tirana, Albania”