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Can Yoga Save the World?

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Can yoga save the world? Two years ago, Deb and Ed Shapiro debated this question over the dinner table. It would make a good book title, they thought. Skilled practitioners and co-authors of numerous self-help books, they decided to write a book about the impact of yoga on human society. Then, a friend questioned their premise.

People in the U.S. practice a type of yoga called Hatha Yoga, they were reminded. In Asia, the practice of yoga is more traditional. So, what yoga practice were they referring to? It might be confusing to the reader, they were told. So they changed the title to: Can Meditation Save the World?

Yoga, after all, is a type of moving meditation, they reasoned. The new title fit the direction they wanted to take the book. Then along came a famous literary agent -- who represents Eckhart Tolle and others -- and got them a contract with Sterling Ethos publishers of Barnes and Noble books. The title, they were told, needed to be changed to reach a broader, general public.

November 3, Be the Change, How Meditation Can Save You and the World, hits the bookstores. Because a photo of the book cover and a description of its contents is included with each blog Ed and Deb write for the Huffington Post, pre-sales of the book have helped it steadily moving up the ranks of Amazon.com.

I got a sneak preview of their book last week, when I hosted the two authors at a Writer's Table luncheon. Be the Change includes fascinating stories of how meditation has changed people's lives, forewords from both the Dalai Lama, and Robert Thurman. Here's what I learned over lunch:

I learned how Boulderite Kirsten Westby was able to find solace by sitting quietly in contemplation, as a prisoner in a Chinese jail. She and several others had traveled to Tibet just before the Beijing Olympics, and raised a protest flag in front of the news media calling on China to "Free Tibet." On another occasion, Westby used a walking meditation technique, when crossing a foot bridge in Africa that was guarded by "trigger-happy" teen soldiers ... She was carrying money to build an orphanage duct-taped to her stomach.

Over lunch, I also learned how Seane Corn used her yoga and meditation expertise to work with child prostitutes in LA. In telling her story, Seane also describes what it took to win their acceptance, and how the process also changed her.

The 100 stories woven together in the book describe how people from all walks of life have used the profound benefits of meditation to improve their health and well being. They have used it to calm the mind, reduce stress, awaken the heart, and deepen insight.

The 100 stories are distilled from about 170 interviews the Shapiros conducted over the past two years. They also interviewed me about meditation and money. When my interview was cut from the final edition, I asked for permission to use my interview as the basis for an ebook. Permission was granted, and my new book, OM Money Money was the result.

Over the past few weeks, I've shared several moving stories from Be the Change with others. It reminds me, the reader, that every action we take affects everything. And when we take large actions on behalf of those in need, or the planet, our presence can create an even larger ripple effect in the world.