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August 8, 2015

Can Mindfulness Reduce Racism?

The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the choking death of Eric Garner in New York City have shaken American society to its core, triggering waves of protests. Most Americans seem to feel that racism played a role in these deaths—that they never would have happened if the victims had been white.

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June 29, 2015

Emma Seppälä: 10 Science Based Reasons to Meditate to Achieve Peace Within

Every Monday, we share with you the stories from luminaries, celebrities and unsung heroes, about how we can achieve Peace Within, so that we can use that Inner Peace to have Peace Between people and Peace Among nations.

Today we wanted to share something more – the science behind WHY you should begin working on developing Peace Within. We turned to Dr. Emma Seppälä, Associate Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism and Research at Stanford University.

“When my colleagues at Stanford and at other universities started researching meditation, most of us expected that meditation would help with stress levels,” Dr. Seppälä shares. “However, what many of us did not anticipate was the extent of the benefits the data ended up showing.”

Seppälä continues, “Hundreds of studies suggest that meditation doesn’t just decrease stress levels but that it also has tangible health benefits such as improved immunity, lower inflammation and decreased pain. Additionally, brain-imaging studies show that meditation sharpens attention and memory. Perhaps most importantly, it has been linked to increased happiness and greater compassion.”

Inspired to share her findings, Dr. Seppälä summarized her data in an article and then created this helpful infographic to help readers visualize the data and to inspire would-be or regular meditators to keep up with their practice!

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EMMA SEPPÄLÄ, Ph.D is Associate Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Her areas of research include positive organizational psychology, health psychology, cultural psychology, well-being, and resilience. She is a frequent contributor to Harvard Business ReviewPsychology Today and Scientific American Mind. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Fulfillment Daily, a news site dedicated to the science of happiness. She also consults with Fortune 500 leaders and employees on building a positive organization and is the author of an upcoming book on the science of success, The Happiness Track, published by HarperOne (January 2016). In addition, she is a Research Scientist and Honorary Fellow with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Investigating Healthy Minds.

Dr. Seppala’s research has been cited in numerous television and news outlets including ABC News and The New York Times and she is quoted in books such as Congressman Tim Ryan’sMindful Nation. Her research on mind-body interventions for military veterans returning from war in Iraq and Afghanistan was highlighted in a documentary called Free the Mind by award-winning filmmaker Phie Ambo. She is the recipient of a number of research grants and service awards including the James W. Lyons Award from Stanford University, where she helped found Stanford’s first academic class on the psychology of happiness and taught many well-being programs for Stanford students.

She received a B.A in Comparative Literature from Yale University, a Master’s Degree in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University. She completed her postdoctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Originally from Paris, France, she speaks five languages: French, English, German, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Outside of her experiences in the US, she has worked in France and China.

June 22, 2015

Desmond & Mpho Tutu on Forgiveness, Family and Inner Peace

Desmond and Mpho Tutu reflect on the power of apologies, the need for material reparations, and the importance of forgiveness in dictating the world’s future. They also speak about truth and reconciliation within their own family, and how they are able to maintain their own inner peace.

Source: Yes! Magazine

June 15, 2015

Dr. Scilla Elworthy: Why finding ‘peace within’ is more essential than ever for young people facing an uncertain future…

Fostering peace within is more important than ever for young people, particularly when you’re growing up in a world that seems to be without it.

Generations of young people face an uncertain future and challenges like environmental destruction and growing global inequality and, thanks to the power of digital technology, they are now more aware and connected to these issues, and to each other, than ever before – and many are feeling overwhelmed, angry and afraid.

Finding peace within is essential to be able to thrive in these circumstances and feel empowered to take effective action for creating a world that works for all, without burning out.

‘Peace within’ can be seen in people like Nelson Mandela. This man, during twenty-seven years in jail, made the profound shift from believing that violence would end South Africa’s apartheid system to committing himself to the much more demanding path of mediation and negotiation with the regime that had imprisoned him and his colleagues. Mandela inspired our imagination not only because of his great achievements but also because of what permeated everything he did—a mighty core of presence and integrity. His very bearing emanated solidity, serenity, and a humble, unshakable majesty.

Authentic leadership —the kind embodied by Desmond Tutu and so deeply needed now—begins in the radical mastery of one’s inner being. In half a century of work in the world, the most important lesson I’ve learned is that inner work is a prerequisite for outer effectiveness—the quality of our awareness directly affects the quality of results produced. The new brand of leaders that we need—those who are actually able to meet the challenges of today and thrive in the world of tomorrow—are the ones who know and live the connection between inner self-development and outer action. If we want to communicate clearly, transform conflicts, generate energy, and develop trust within our families and in our places of work, our first challenge is to do the inner work.

If you ask yourself: “Who do I know who’s most alive, most vibrant, effective and energetic, who’s also calm and generous and seems to have time for others?” Then, if you go and ask that person what their secret is, they’ll be likely to tell you that they meditate, or do bodywork, or have some practice of self reflection, or like being silent in nature, or have some experience of becoming self aware.

Peace within comes with the development of this inner power or self awareness. Inner power is the diamond formed by years of honing self-awareness, practicing selflessness, and observing and controlling the ego. It results from developing the essential skill of empathy—even for those who oppose you—and the humble commitment to keep learning the skills of deep listening and mediation.

I have come to realise that the parallel development of inner power and outer action—the marriage of the two—is the only effective way to bring about positive change. I know also from experience that being involved in creating a safer and more satisfying future is the source of the greatest and most lasting joy imaginable—a joy that can sustain you through all the ordeals of working for a new world.

If a critical mass of humanity can make this shift, to fostering inner power, inner awareness and developing peace within, an entirely different way of living could emerge. We could live in a world that is safe, where the earth has regenerated itself, where streams run clear again and you can drink the water anywhere. Where you can breathe clear air. Where children can be secure, not scared. Where creatures are protected from cruelty and extinction. Where people communicate with each other rather than fight. Where women are educated, safe, and respected. Where money holds its value, and companies compete to be trustworthy, because consumers insist on this. Where we find a way to elect to government the kind of people who want to serve rather than to abuse power.

This is not a utopia. It’s happening. This recognition of a need for ‘peace within’ is something I’ve witnessed in millennials the world over, and a global movement of creativity is beginning, of which you are potentially a part.

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Dr. Scilla Elworthy (born 3 June 1943) is a peace builder, and the founder of the Oxford Research Group, a non-governmental organization she set up in 1982 to develop effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics, for which she was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize. She served as its executive director from 1982 until 2003, when she left that role to set up Peace Direct, a charity supporting local peace-builders in conflict areas. In 2003 she was awarded the Niwano Peace Prize. From 2005 she was adviser to Peter Gabriel, Desmond Tutu and Richard Branson in setting up The Elders. She is a member of the World Future Council and in 2012 co-founded Rising Women Rising World, a growing, vibrant community of women on all continents who take responsibility for building a world that works for all.

June 8, 2015

The Dalai Lama on Inner Peace, Inner Values and Mental States (VIDEO)

Nobel Peace laureate and spiritual guide to the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama, speaks on achieving Inner Peace for an audience at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2009.

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His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people.

During the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama fled to India, where he denounced the Chinese Communist Party and established the nongovernmental Central Tibetan Administration. He has since traveled the world, advocating for the welfare of Tibetans, teaching Tibetan Buddhism, investigating the interface between Buddhism and science and talking about the importance of compassion as the source of a happy life.

The Dalai Lama has travelled to more than 67 countries spanning 6 continents. He has received over 150 awards, honorary doctorates, prizes, etc., in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion. He has also authored or co-authored more than 110 books.

In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. He has consistently advocated policies of non-violence, even in the face of extreme aggression. He also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems.

Visit the Dalai Lama’s Official web site: www.DalaiLama.com

June 1, 2015

Robert V. Taylor: Peace Within through Ubuntu

The work of peace-making always includes being grounded in your own inner peace. At The Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation we provide tools for young people to create what we call Peace3 or peace to the third power: peace within, between and among people. They’re all inter-connected and essential in creating lives of well-being.  Peace and well-being within your own life is the foundation for contributing to peace between the people in your community or country and among the diverse global human family.

In 2015-16, the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation is focused on the first part of the campaign, Peace Within – how cultivating one’s inner peace lays the foundation for peace in all aspects of one’s life. We will be sharing personal stories from luminaries, celebrities and unsung heroes as to how they achieve inner peace, and how it empowers them in their day to day existence.

When examining peace for myself, I often think of the transformative power of the African wisdom tradition of “Ubuntu”. Ubuntu says that a person is only a person in the context of others. In other words we need one another in order to each discover our magnificence and allow it to shine by what we do with our lives. It is a way of life that acknowledges that every person is of infinite value. It replaces fear and distrust of others with an expectancy, curiosity and celebration of them.

Living a life of Ubuntu is a way of active engagement with the world. It means that whenever the magnificence of others is confined, scorned or dismissed you intuitively join with others in actively seeking to expand our consciousness of what it means to be human.

This affirmation of the dignity of each person often involves the pursuit of justice so that the magnificence and well-being of all can be celebrated. It is ultimately a joyful way of life.

Here are three practices by which this Ubuntu way of life finds expression in creating peace within so that we can also create peace between and among peoples.

1.     Be attentive to those around you. In the bustle of daily life it is common to take those around you for granted as a known quantity. You may admire, tolerate or be dismayed at people for qualities or behaviors they display. Those who dismay or anger you will drain your energy if you cede them that power. Your bandwidth for engaging with others is a limited and precious resource. The choices of whom to surround yourself with will either detract or enliven your vow.

Mindfully choose those whose lives exhibit well-being for themselves and others. Create time to be in conversation with them. Glean from them their truths and discoveries about living in peace. The magnificence of your mutual quest for living in peace will radiate beyond the borders of your own life creating a rippling effect in the world.

2. Own your cluttered conversations. The things that clutter our lives are not necessarily bad but they distract and detract us from the path to well-being. Old story lines and conversations that rattle around inside of us are a pernicious clutter because of their toxicity. You need to own their existence before you can detach and set yourself free from them.

These are the conversations that undermine you by keeping you ensnared in their hurt, pain, betrayal and fear. They undermine and detract you from knowing that living in peace is possible. Name them and detach from them by offering them to the care of the Universe.  It is a toxic cleanse for your well-being. Choose instead to pay attention to the comments and conversations that express a desire for your highest good.

3. Forgive instead of paying back. When you are unable to forgive someone you harm yourself by allowing part of your life to be occupied by an egregious person. The one who harmed you through a previous act gives little thought to you or what they did. Instead it is you who choose to be a victim of the past. To forgive does not mean forgetting but it does mean not seeking payback. It is a choice to be free.

I ran into someone who had led a malicious agenda against me that disrupted my life in unexpected ways. Years ago I had chosen to forgive him and my life opened to new possibilities. But there he was professing to not know me. The unexpected encounter brought back memories of a traumatic experience. Would I allow him to reoccupy my life? I was reminded that the choice to forgive often presents itself repeatedly. Forgiving is a choice to be free.

With these practices for peace within and the desire to live a life of Ubuntu, you turn your back on settling for serial moments of peace and instead choose a way of life in which to ground your work in making the world a more hopeful and just place.

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About the Author

Robert V. Taylor has dedicated his life to helping individuals and organizations live beyond their limitations. He challenges leaders to live beyond the fears and self-assessments that hold them hostage. Robert is the voice of a generation empowered by the potential of living beyond the restrictions of labels. He is passionate about helping people find a deeper connection to themselves and the world at large. Author of “A New Way to Be Human,” Robert shares his own struggles and global journeys as an example of what is possible when we all live beyond labels.

As an internationally known speaker, author and media commentator, Robert is an engaging and compelling communicator of values, leadership and ethics. He is a frequent speaker for professional organizations, conferences and non-profit groups worldwide.

Robert is Chair of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation in New York, and serves on the Board of the Endowment for Equal Justice. He was Founding Chair of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County WA and an organizer of Seeds of Compassion. 

He is a native of Cape Town, South Africa. Robert lives in Seattle and on a farm in rural Eastern Washington.

Visit www.robertvtaylor.com