As I write this I'm in a room surrounded by yogis chanting for peace. They've been chanting since 7am and will continue until 7pm. Today, at my yoga retreat, it's Peace Prayer Day. It's a change of pace here as no classes are taught after the morning classes and the rest of the day's activities are devoted solely to cultivating peace. It's free and open to the public, exemplifying the theme of inclusion.
Being emotional up here isn't out of the norm, as we're meditating, doing yoga, and connecting to ourselves and others all day. I never know what to expect or what will come up for me as I dive deep into self-reflection. I often discover new pieces of myself or old hurts that need some attention. To my surprise this day of peace has been my most intense so far. Lots of tears were shed as I was moved by the day's event and began to discover a wide-range of feelings. Today, I was mostly overwhelmed by the feeling of togetherness as we worked together to create peace and love between friends and strangers.
I think it's hard in our society for us to be vulnerable. We walk around with guards up and masks on feeling alone, misunderstood, and unseen. This retreat, more than anything, gives me permission to take of the mask and let my guard down and just be. I feel, I process, I heal, and, most importantly, I do this with many other people. It's such an amazing feeling to be fully accepted at your most vulnerable state.
Part of Peace Prayer Day is inviting speakers who exemplify the theme. This year it was the Interfaith Amigos, which consisted of three leaders of different faiths: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. I found myself unable to stop crying as these men shared the importance of interfaith communication, learning from one another, and building bridges to stop violence, fear, misunderstandings, and prejudice. They each brought their religious texts and read the most moving and profound scriptures as well as the ones that have been used to fuel hatred, violence, and judgement. They were acknowledging the imperfections in their sacred texts and offering different interpretations that instead spoke of compassion, love, inclusion, and acceptance. Exposing themselves to other religions didn't make them less faithful, instead it deepened their understanding of their own faith as they learn other sacred lessons.
Their message was simple, clear, and so profound. It effected me so deeply that I realized how little peace I had been feeling in our world, in our country, and in myself. They gave me hope. So today, on Peace Prayer Day, to the best of my ability I'm sharing this message of peace with you. Let down your guards, take off your masks, and see, hear, and love each other. Learn about something you don't understand. Let curiosity replace judgment. Open your mind up to the idea that the fundamentals of humanity makes us friends and not strangers and we're more alike than you think. Happy Peace Prayer Day, friends. We're working hard over here to send out peaceful vibes to you and the rest of the world. Help us out, hey? Peace!