What do you do when your hometown has become a place of constant chaos? Sometimes the first thought is to run away. But running to where? We can’t control everything that happens externally but the one thing we can control is our mind. How we react to situations depends on the quality of our mind.
I come from a place that was once a reference of peace but has become a hub for every day violence. Though the option of running away may sound considerable, there are many questions running through my mind in the growing heat of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon. What about the stakes you have in the place where you spent your entire life? Where do you start from if you leave? Can you really run away from your mind?
Fear, doubt and panic This crisis started as a peaceful protest against the government for marginalization (of the English speaking minority as oppose to the affluence of the French speaking majority) and a request to return back to Federalism. As it is with every protest that is not tactically handled, this too aggravated from peaceful to violent and a quest for secession. When this tussle persist, the regular man of which I’m a part of is the one that ends ups confused in the midst of both violent parties.
This state of mind comprised of fear, doubt and panic is that which is shared by many in the community. So, when you look around and realize there is no need to run because the stakes involved and the love for patriotism supersedes any other, the only way out is to find a means to deal with the situation and not run away from it. This conception is what led me through a journey of retrospection where I decided to make use of a skill I once learned in a country far, far away from home.
Visualization and flower garden Together with a group of peace loving youths, we started the Buea Peace Club which aims at empowering the minds of youths to be calm and resilient towards effect of the sound of frequent gunshots in the neighbourhood. We use the tool of mindfulness meditation which I learned in Thailand to train the mind to disconnect from the negative physical environment and create an imaginary one of everyone’s choice where we visualize, focus and feel the pleasure of being in a positive environment such as a beach, flower garden or anywhere we love to be.
These mental exercises have proven to help the participants of the club deal with the chaotic situation in the community better than before. In one of the sessions, a participant named Joy said: “I felt like I was floating, as light as a balloon during the process. The headache that I came in with has all of a sudden gone away!”. Many others said the process gave them a feeling of freedom and peace instead of the constant fear and negative energy brought by the sound of gunshots.
The chaos has not ended in the region, but we – the members of the club – are not feeling the effect as others may because we know how to control our mind. Hence, meditation has now become the bullet proof of the mind. Hopefully, we can reach out to more people with this approach of peace that is grounded from within.