Dances of Universal Peace

A crowd of people in a circle, meditative music, simple dance movements, and mantras from a wide variety of world faiths all meld together… Attending a Dance of Universal Peace is an unforgettable experience. In hundreds of dances across the globe, people around the world gather in spiritual centers, churches, schools, therapy groups, and even prisons to participate in this event. There is usually no audience; everyone, regardless of skill, is encouraged to join.

By blending sacred phrases, scripture, poetry, and the beauty of nature, participants are able to strengthen their connections to each other, the earth, and their own spirits. In other words, the dances bring them closer to universal peace, step by step.

Samuel L. Lewis, known by many as Murshid S.A.M. (the title being Arabic for “guide”), was an American Sufi who introduced the Dances of Universal Peace on June 24, 1968 in an attempt to unify people — to lower the arbitrary veils that separate us. This year, nearly 150 events were held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Dances.

Each year, the scope of the movement grows to include new areas and people. How have the dances evolved in recent years? How has the current political climate affected this movement? Let’s dive into the issue:

Finding Peace Amidst Geopolitical War Games

Lewis’s home country has changed a lot since his death in ‘71. Trump’s administration, increased racial tensions, the Me Too movement — the face of the politics in the U.S. has changed drastically in the past several years. Due to a wide variety of factors, from food and water scarcity to America’s national security policy, the country has been politically fractured.

In spite of these divisions, people have sought ways to call for unity and harmony. Dances permit communities to demonstrate their tolerance and acceptance of diversity in the face of an intolerant administration. In a manner, these events are a form of passive protest. Rather than responding to discrimination with violent action, participating in these dances signals that peace is always an option.

Of course, political unrest isn’t unique to the U.S. In recent years, the Dances of Universal Peace movement has gained traction around the globe. In areas like Russia, Turkey, and many Latin American countries, political unrest has spurred people to find an outlet. Dances of Universal Peace work as a valuable collective healing practice in these troubled times. The Dances allow people to find common ground and connect with each other on a deep level, regardless of race, religion, or nationality.

When Murshid began guiding students in dance, he started with only a few students. As the movement he started has expanded, it has grown to encompass thousands. The global expansion of this movement is a product of the fact that many people have become discontent with the arbitrary lines between nations. Globalization in the business world and technology have also facilitated this mindset, as they have opened new lines of communication and exposed us to new cultures.

How These Dances Create Peace and Love

Recent years have shed light on why these events have worked so effectively. In our individual journeys, we must commit to self-love, and attending a Dance of Universal Peace is a great step in that direction. There are many reasons why they improve our mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Dancing and music are powerful tools for improving our holistic health. As Murshid S.A.M. once said, “(Dance) takes us beyond ourselves, bringing an initial taste of the state of non-being, which is really a balm for the soul.”   However, as recent research has proven, it can also heal the mind and body.

The physiological changes that occur within us when we engage in these activities can improve our mood and overall well-being. Listening to music and dancing can increase the amount of dopamine in our brains, a neurotransmitter responsible for making us feel happy and rewarded.

Dance and music also affect our bodies in many therapeutic ways. In fact, it may even be helpful for treating disease. According to an article on Medical News Today, “Dance and music therapy is being investigated for its potential use in the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson’s and autism.

Finally, these events allow us to create and strengthen social bonds. In recent years, specialists have found that socializing improves our holistic health, even reducing our likelihood of developing dementia. There’s no question that the life-long bonds that these dances create have led to healthier, more social lifestyles.

Given these insights, it’s no wonder that Samuel Lewis’s movement has grown into the worldwide phenomenon it is today. As this movement continues to expand, it will doubtlessly open dialogues, forge new social connections, and improve our well-being. In addition to helping us find inner-peace, it will continue to inch society closer to worldwide peace.

Are you interested in attending a Dance? Let us know in the comments below.


This is a collaborative post supporting our Peace In Peace Out initiative.

The Art of Improvisation

Have you ever planned something so well only for the plan to be upset in the last minute as a result making you feel confused? Many of us would love things in life to always go as planned. We work so hard in calculating every step on the way with the hope that everything will go as perfectly as we wished it to be. Sadly, that’s not always the reality. Sometimes things go wrong but we still have to get the intended result. Hence, this becomes the million dollar question: how do you make it happen in the midst of a sudden change? This is where the art of improvisation sets in. In order to improvise and fix the situation, you need the following:

1. Keep your composure within
Sometimes when we talk about keeping composure, people think it means you should be slow when in reality you need to be fast in order to fix the situation. Keeping composure here means that your mind should not be in a haste or panic even if your body needs to move faster. Good athletes for instance run fast but their mind is still centered, and that is why they can resist for a longer time. Keeping calm within will give you the right wisdom you need at that point in time.

2. Use your intuition or discernment
Listening to yourself is one of the greatest skills you need in order to manage an unpredictable situation. Sometimes you can’t get the maths right by logical reasoning but that inner voice tells you, it is possible. The way to practice building your intuitive strength is to have a daily routine of reflection. It does not need to be long, 10-15 minutes is okay for a start.

3. Observe and Empathise
We are often in a haste to make decisions without observing what might be the current state of affairs. Situations are best judged by what is observed in the present moment and not much reliance on what seems similar to apply previous knowledge. When we observe keenly, we need to also empathise. It’s not always about doing what we want to do but also putting ourselves in the position of the other party to see if we would like what we intend to do.

4. Read, play and live!
It is often said the more you read, the more you know which is quite true. However, reading alone is not enough. It has to go with having a life of experiences. This may be travelling, playing games, hanging out with friends or volunteering at a community center. All these little but different experiences is what forms together the wisdom you need to improvise when the need arises. So, get out there and live your life!

5. Be flexible
A lot of people fail when their plans change because their mind is so limited to what they had previously conceived. Life is impermanent and so we have to be flexible at all times for the unforeseen. Do not be afraid to try something new. There’s nothing wrong in trying if the previous is already obsolete.

I’ve been travelling as a project manager for the last four years dealing with circumstances and people from different cultural backgrounds. This has taught me how to think out of the box as things do not always go as planned. However, improvisation does not only have to be in a negative situation. You could also improvise to take advantage of an opportunity that was not in your initial plan. I remember arriving at a conference last year in Pointe Noire, Congo without my bags and resource materials because the airline delayed them. Instead of panicking or cancelling my presentation, I chose to forget about my initial plan and spoke from my heart based on how I read the audience. They could feel my truth, and I could feel their concentration. Till today, this happens to be one of my most impactful events out of more than a hundred gatherings where I’ve been a speaker.

If happiness is contagious, then what makes you happy?

Have you heard that happiness is contagious? Well, there are a few empirically proven studies by behavioural and social scientists suggesting that happiness is not only contagious but it is also positively impacted by the people around.

Nicholas Christakis, a professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School in his study on ‘dynamic of spread happiness’ shows that happiness spreads through social networks, which means your happiness have positive impact and could influence the happiness of others as well. Further, spread of happiness is comparatively faster than the spread of sadness. Incredible, isn’t it?

If this is true, then the next question is: what makes us happy? Is it some kind of chemical reaction in our mind that is being activated by certain types of action in our regular life or some more specific environment which our mind prefers? Some studies claim that happiness is a state of mind, and if that is true, then what kind of action leads to it? Based on many studies and human experiences, here are some simple actions, easy enough to practice in everyday life, which make us happy and content:

1) Happiness is a Journey, not a Destination
It’s one journey where the path we have taken matters more than the final destination achieved. We always have a choice for the path to be taken, and this is where we decide which kind of life we want to live. Each day has a new beginning and a story to experience. So, make sure, you live and enjoy the very path taken, as it is the last one.

2) Human brain is great but heart is even more incredible
There is an age old debate on ‘logic’ versus ‘emotions’ until we start understanding the deeper science behind our emotions. They are the ones that make us humane. People who lived happy and fulfilling life consider emotions and social aspect while taking decisions about life, partner, children, family, friends and parents. Time to time, its beyond logic but that’s what helps them live a happy life.

3) Live to experience, as money doesn’t buy everything
One of the best use of money is living the experiences and investing our time and energy for creating great memories. They are more worthy than materialistic accumulation including money.  Science has shown that buying experiences – like, going on a skiing trip or taking an art class – makes us happier than material goods. As per several psychological surveys, people who spend more on life experiences are happier than people who just purchase things.

Photo by Carly Rae Hobbins on Unsplash

4) The Joy of giving
When you give to others, it is bound to give you inner happiness. Kindness, generosity and compassion are basic human values, and it’s an open secret followed by most successful and happy people of our time.

5) Small pleasures are collectively bigger than biggest achievements in life
There is an ancient saying: enjoy the small happy moments of your daily life. Because frequent, small pleasures tend to be different every time, whether it’s sharing tea with friends or reading a new book, we don’t adapt to them and become bored as quickly. Also, there are several such opportunities to live and be grateful about instead of waiting for something big.

6) Don’t compare yourself to others
“Compare and despair,” goes an old saying. We all are different and unique, so when you compare yourself with others, it means you are evaluating apple and oranges at the same parameter. People really do make themselves miserable when they focus on their “relative” well-being. That means how they think they’re doing compared to everyone else.

7) Appreciation is Important
The more you appreciate what God has given to you, the more you will be content and happy. Appreciation is also about encouraging the good inside you to grow further. The art of appreciating what you have and staying happy within your limits, is a factor that needs to be practised.

Let’s try something simple, close your eyes, take a deep breath and think what makes you more happy? Is it the money in your bank account, big car or a trip to your most favourable place or country, dinner with your partner or family? Now the decision is yours.

Kuldeep Singh can be reached out at twitter @Kuldeep_lko

Photo credits of the featured image: Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash

Be The Energy You Want To Attract

There have been times throughout my life when I’ve been asked why I am always in a good mood. I usually smile and first say not to equate being hyper or energetic with being happy. Naturally it got me thinking about the good and the bad in people’s lives, which – depending on your environment – can be harder to fight through the negative than embracing the positive.

One example of the negative is suffering the loss of a loved one; another being that despite having family and friends in my life, I still experience a sense of loneliness sometimes. (The former being an active negative, the latter a passive negative.) Despite these events, I never found myself dipping below the waves of that energy. Even as an adult, where some things are a mystery to me that shouldn’t be; I still find a stubborn buoy of positive energy that just won’t be sunk.

Moreover, recently I’ve realized that at the end of the day, my Standard Operating Energy (SOE) has always been at the positive end of the spectrum. Simply put, I embrace positive energy instead of the opposite, realizing I’m on this path for a reason. And mixed with a curious nature and strong intuition, this has helped me sense other people’s energies as well. So, here I have developed three categories and the types of people that belong to each SOE.

1) Even Keel SOE 

Even Keel SOE isn’t necessarily the worst energy out there, but it’s not the best either.  Sometimes life isn’t easy, other times – it’s crazy, but life can be great as well. And through these periods, there are people who whether through the good times or bad, always find themselves in a “meh”* state of mind. Generally they’re not overly emotional, or even averagely emotional, but somewhat closed off. They’re happy to keep their heads down and just go with the flow, even when the situation calls for a more active response.
 
Now the negative results of this type of SOE could range from that person being an enabler, as they just don’t want to rock the boat. Or when you need a shoulder to cry on, you find that they’re not necessarily equipped to help guide you through the darkness. However there are times when a discerning steady hand is needed; and though these people may not be able to relate to you, they can help calm the waters. 

2) Negative SOE 

Depending on how perceptive you are, whether they’re miles away or in the office next to yours, you just know that they’re there. So first keep in mind, that they may not even know it consciously. They probably don’t look the part of someone you would think has this prevalent energy coursing through their veins either. However, call it intuition or a sixth sense, you just know deep down – these people thrive on the negative.
 
Also keep in mind, this isn’t a sinister energy exactly, but one that will gladly counter your own positives if you let it. The numerous ways these people display their SOE is just that, many. We all know people that whether they have good hearts or the opposite, just can’t seem to get out of their own way because of this prevailing energy. You can sometimes help them see the light, if all they see is a wall.
 
Again this doesn’t mean they’re bad people by any mean. If nothing else, depending on what you know about them, maybe it’s the result of a rough life. However none of us really skate by uninjured; but these people may use their negatives as reasons to never elevate themselves to a higher, more beautiful energy. What’s worse – they may intentionally try to take you down to their level, which can be especially difficult in romantic or other close relationships. 

3) Positive SOE 

You just like these people, and you don’t know why. Whether you know them well or as an acquaintance, a new neighbour or a coworker, or just a longtime friend or a family member; these people fill your life with light. No worries, they’re not always going to have blue birds singing around their head. They’re also going to have bad days and experiences like anyone else. But it’s how they shake themselves off and keep moving forward, make you feel better for just being around them; and not dwell on the negative that truly helps their energy remain so beautiful, so positive.
 
These are the people you want to have as friends for life, date, marry and start a family with, or just go to a yoga class or hang out on a Friday night. They’re also not above bad decisions and regrets; because again, who goes through life without at least few? But it’s how they can see the light through the darkness, and just have that internal beauty that makes them truly remarkable and genuine people.
 
Ironically where this SOE serves you the best, is when things are the worst. When broken down, through any number of ways, you have this fire within you that will never go out. Sure it can dim and flicker, and you’ll need time to heal, but it’s this energy that will help you do just that… It will help you embrace the good and brightness within yourself and others.
 
People that have this SOE are the ones you want at your back as well. The way they uplift you with just a genuine smile, kind words, make you laugh and make you want to make them laugh, are all affects of being around them. You naturally gravitate toward them and for obvious reasons! 

In The End 

One measure of this can be how you wake up in the morning. It’s not so much a matter of how tired you are or what you did the night before, how you slept, or what you have going on during the day. It’s not even so much of a mood, but a sense of your true energy, if you know where and how to look for it.
 
Are we all born with a SOE? Or is our energy imprinted on us by the people around us? Much like the nature nurture argument, the truth may be somewhere in between. And by no means are these energies static throughout our lives either, sometimes even crisscrossing with each other.
 
As a writer, I’m attracted to thoughtful quotes, and just love the ones that are anonymous; as I have to wonder how they can be anonymous, as someone had to say it somewhere! And the one that I love is by an unknown author that reads similar to a Gandhi quote; “Be the energy you want to attract.”
 
Simple and effective, and a reminder that you don’t have to be stuck in the first or second SOE. Depending on how much of an incline the battle uphill is, it might be tough; but the journey to a Positive Standard Operating Energy can’t be ignored… And if nothing else, can be all the more reason to embrace it everyday and night.
*someone who is apathetic or lacks interest/energy

5 lessons from day 10 of my 90 days integrity challenge

The first quarter of the year is gone!

In March 2018, I realized that the first quarter of 2018 was quickly coming to an end. I thought of the resolutions I made and the progress so far and wondered what happened.

“We make such huge chunks of our goals as long as they seem far out of reach, don’t we?” I thought.

After attending The Landmark Forum, one of the bucket lists for my 2018, I came right into contact with integrity.

Honor your self before anything or anyone else

Integrity in this new sense has nothing to do with being a good person, or a person of morality. In fact, it’s the opposite, getting comfortable with being a “bad” person.

What has goodness and badness got to do with life anyway? So, let’s get those words out of this space for now.

Good and bad is an impression we make and try to keep in the face of others. Integrity, on the other hand, is waking up to honor the commitments and words we make with ourselves and our values.

So, take a moment and recall…

How many times do you honor the commitments you make to others? Keeping time, working, among others? And now, how many times do we honor the commitments we make to ourselves? To wake up at a certain time, to meditate a certain number of times a day?

From my evaluation, I had become an expert at trying to impress others by honoring their expectations of me and not honoring the commitments I made with myself.

Results?

My resolutions never get done.

I am always busy working and never having a time to rest and do things that matter to me.

What’s my predictable future by December 2018? A few resolutions, no major progress and a ton of excuses at why I didn’t do the things I set to do.

So, in 90, I am changing all these and setting a new template to honor myself and be authentic to myself, Period!

It’s day 10; here are 5 lessons I have gathered so far:

  1.  There is a difference between an interested fellow and a committed one.

Interest does not get you far, commitment; telling yourself you shall do it and feeling the impact send shivers down your spine is what I call commitment. Its actually deeper than that. Getting centered and feeling awakened by your decision and desire for change!

2. Integrity is not a destination

We don’t end up saying I am all full of integrity and now ready to face the world. Honoring ourselves is not a destination, it’s a way of life. It’s a moment by moment decision making that gets you waking up when you need to meditate, it gets you taking a glass of water to meditate more, or run 6 miles when you are tired and need to stop. It’s a way of life!

3. Enjoy this journey

90 days isn’t long, and people easily forget to the beauty of this moment. Any challenge is not much about the finishing line (even though the sweet sign of a victory is delicious) as it is in the sweet victories of recognizing that you are beginning to get it and its working in your life with delight! Enjoy, have fun, laugh at yourself, and let go!

4. Journal every step of the way!

I am writing down my experiences of this journey and guess what is coming up, a mindfulness and focus journal! Each day, I uncover a new layer that is becoming clearer. In fact, by end of April, the journal will be ready for use by anyone who wishes to embark on a challenge of integrity and mindfulness focus. I love writing and writer do what they love. You don’t have to love writing to journal. That is why I am creating a journal that will be suitable to anyone who loves journaling or not; because its fun to look back, see what you did, laugh at yourself, see a clearer vision and write it down!

5. Just Start

Oh, I find blog posts such as this very boring. I mean you read read and read and smile and say “nice” and even share, but unless you look at your life and just make a simple change NOW, its all nothing. So, just start. Perhaps you want to start by sharing what came up for you as you read through?

Its your turn!

You can reach me on Facebook to get more info of the 90 days challenge!

 

Lean in, Stand out!

Things to Remember When Life Gets Tough

We all have experienced difficult times in life. What’s more, we as a whole overcome them. However, some show more signs of improvements than others. What is their secret? A large portion of it needs to do with the attitude. Moreover, we need to develop good mental habits to attain peaceful minds. Here are a few things to recall when life gets tough:

1. Finding the Root Cause

Misery happens when humans oppose the way things are in reality. In case, you can change something, make a strong move and change it. In case, you cannot change things, you have two options (a) acknowledge it and let it go (b) resign yourself by fixating on it. Opting one of these options will help you accept the things you can change and the things you cannot. Whatever the dilemmas you go through, balancing life will be the appropriate option to achieve a peaceful life.

2. Creating Positive Viewpoint

The fact is – we are our own worst enemy. Happiness is truly dependent on our viewpoint. If you think something is an issue, your thoughts and feelings will be negative. But if you believe it is something you can learn from, it is not an issue any longer.

3. Start Changing Yourself

Your external world is a reflection of your inner world. Do you know people whose lives are clamorous and stressful? Isn’t it to a great extent that they feel disorganised inside? We get a kick out of the chance to imagine that changing our conditions will transform us. In fact, it’s the other way round – we have to change ourselves first before our living conditions will change for us.

3. Everything is Learning

You should simply wipe out ‘disappointment’ from your vocabulary. All extraordinary people who have ever accomplished something have ‘failed’ again and again. It was Thomas Edison who said: “I did not fail at inventing the light bulb, I just found 99 different ways that did not work”. Take back your so-called ‘failures’ and try learning something new from them rather than feeling disappointed. Figure out how to improve next time.

4. Believe that Something Better is yet to Happen

Sometimes it is hard to accept if things don’t go the way you wanted. When you glance back at your life, you will have the capacity to perceive any reason why it was really something to be thankful for rather than something that did not work out. Maybe the job you failed to get would have influenced you to invest more time away from your family, however, the job you got allowed you to be more flexible. Simply have confidence that everything happens the way it should.

5. Cherish the Present Moment

This moment will never return. There is always something valuable in each minute. So don’t let it pass by. Before long it will simply be a memory one day. Even minutes that don’t appear to be pleasant can be looked upon as something that you may miss some time in the future. As the down-home tune by Trace Adkins says, “You are going to miss this. You are going to need this back. You are going to wish nowadays hadn’t passed by so quick. You may not know this now, but rather you are going to miss this for sure…”

Everything is temporary in this wicked life. Push yourself a little more to improve your life and attain a peaceful mind.

One of the life’s most noteworthy endowments is that life is troublesome. Because in managing life’s troubles, we assemble precious quality. This quality empowers us to effectively satisfy our most profound, most significant purposes. It is decisively on the grounds that life is troublesome that we can make it extraordinary. It is on the grounds that life is troublesome that we can transcend the challenges. We can have any kind of effect and we can really matter.

Amani Oh! Amani – A Peace Quest From Africa – Part 3

I know, I know, I went AWOL for a while. Not to worry, I’m back!

Before I proceed, let me take this moment to apologise for not accounting much for time and dates in my Amani Series. I went through a couple of days without comprehending or having a feel of time. I later managed to acquire a watch and small alarm clock and things got better, time-wise. Continue reading “Amani Oh! Amani – A Peace Quest From Africa – Part 3”

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.

The very first time when I heard about meditation happened many years ago when I was 16. I had been introduced to the world of deeper understanding, although back then I have been too young to comprehend. I remember that I was attracted by this secret power called meditation. People who meditated seemed to be so different. But I wasn’t sure If I was curious or opened enough to learn more. Continue reading “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”

Meditation, not as a task but as a need.

One of my friends asked me to take a look at the peace revolution web page, as a new thing it made me curious. I registered and watched the first video and answered the questions carefully. I went to my friend, who introduced me this website, and I asked a lot of questions about what I should do. Did as I’ve been told to and I was somehow happy about it. I was on my twenty-seventh session when I got Mena Salam III fellowship mail. I applied for it. Continue reading “Meditation, not as a task but as a need.”