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One World

By Christine Mason, CEI Executive Director

The horrific images of immigrants traveling by boat, foot, truck, and train these past few weeks bring a new sense of urgency to the vision of heart centeredness we have had at CEI.  Walking to survive. Camping in the open without food or shelter in hopes of boarding a train to arrive in a welcoming land. The bravery and the desperation. Some surviving against unbearable odds.

For what seems like a lifetime I have railed privately against the artificial boundaries between countries. I have looked at maps and wondered if a river or mountain divide is adequate justification for the borders that have been established over time.  Or if the exigency of allocating the spoils of war, acquiring land to gain power, or drawing lines to divide cities and resolve conflicts really serves people well.

As a yoga instructor I have spent years teaching about yoga as the “union” of all things. Breath and being. You and me. Unity across oceans and peoples.  Breathing the same air that has been recycled for thousands of years. My thoughts impact you. Your actions impact me. We have ended each yoga class with a mantra I learned from one of my first yoga teachers -“Bless this world with peace.”  In recent years, after the Ebola scare, we switched that up to “Bless this world with health, healing, and peace.”  We have envisioned doves of peace circling this world with olive branches; we have beamed messages from our hearts to family, friends, and strangers; and I have repeated the charge my yoga master gave his students “be the light that uplifts yourself and others.” Hundreds of hours devoted not just to strengthening our bodies and minds, but to strengthening our hearts, our compassion, our courage. And yet, that has not been enough.

As a researcher and an educator I have also examined curricula, and wondered aloud why more time isn’t devoted to studying, researching, and implementing programs designed to create peace.  I have examined good programs — many that seem to me to be too little given our pressing needs. As a mother I have cried over the conditions others face; as a dreamer I have dreamt of a better time; as an American I have wondered why we have been spared the suffering of millions around the globe. I know I am not alone in my thoughts, my dreams, and my angst. I am one of many who has a role to play.

It is 2015. This year schools, principals, and teachers are given an opportunity to do more than what has been done in the past. To go beyond requirements. The paradox may be that in doing more in this heart centered realm you actually may be accelerating so much learning — learning to meet standards – learning that goes beyond standards. When all is said and done, which risk is greater – to find time or not?


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