03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

What Do Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Dr. Dean Ornish And Actor Ed Begley Jr. Have In Common?

What could an
astronaut who walked on the moon, a brilliant doctor who has proved that yoga
and diet helps heart disease, and an actor who is committed to helping the
environment possibly have in common? Firstly, they all care about people and want a better world, and are doing what they can to make it happen. And secondly,
they have all found that one of the best ways to work with our limitations is through

is it that stops us from being the best we can be, from giving unreservedly,
from caring for others more than ourselves? Self-centeredness and selfishness,
the hallmarks of the ego, affect not only our own lives and relationships but
also influence the way we behave in the world. There is no limit to the damage
a strong ego can do, from the arrogant conviction that its own opinions are the
only right ones, to wielding and abusing power at the expense of other people’s
lives or liberties.

Through meditation, from being
self-centered we become other-centered, concerned about the welfare of all rather than
being focused on just ourselves and our families. We become more acutely aware
of how we treat each other and our world, and seek to become a positive
presence rather than a negative one. Meditation can do more for the world than
all the money and good works, as we are no longer contributing suffering to the
world but offering our peace. This gift is priceless.

Our long awaited book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can
Transform You and the World
has just been published (yea!!!). In our
last blog we highlighted seven of the inspiring women who contributed to it.
This week we are highlighting seven of the men in the book, men who are each
making a difference to our world.

When we look
at the world from the moon, as astronaut Edgar
explained to us, it is just a small round ball. As Apollo 14
moved closer and the earth became larger, Mitchell’s life changed forever. From
exploring the far reaches of outer space, he began to seek a deeper meaning for
his experience and turned to explore his inner world, which came to include
meditation. Due to this he co-created the Institute of Noetic Sciences to
encourage and lead research into human potential.

, professor of
Indio-Tibetan studies at Columbia University, NYC:

I see my attitude about my own egotism and I realize that I am just one of all
beings and I am interrelated with everyone else, then meditation is like a
weight that pushes that realization down deeper into my gut until it finds the
'I, me, mine' level where it transforms it. Meditation is what makes my
understanding experiential."

Dean Ornish, Medical Editor for the HuffPost:

"People who have had a heart attack sometimes say it was the
best thing that ever happened to them, and I say, 'Are you crazy?' They say, 'Well,
no, but that is what it took to begin making these changes that have made my
life so much more profoundly joyful and meaningful.' Change is hard, but if we
are in enough pain, the idea of change becomes more appealing and we will try
just about anything. When we make these changes, the pain subsides, and not
only the physical pain like angina from heart disease or back pain, but deeper
levels of pain that are more difficult to measure but are often more
meaningful. When we can focus on something, which is what meditation does, it
enhances our inner communication, giving us more personal power and peace of

"When people are stressed out, they may say, 'My fuse is
shorter and I explode more easily, but when I meditate on a regular basis, my
fuse is longer. The situation does not change, but how I react to it does.'
Meditation allows us to experience more of an internal sense of well-being. It
dampens our sympathetic nervous system. It enhances our parasympathetic nervous
system, so we can relax. Our mind quiets down. Our breathing becomes slower and
deeper. Our metabolic rate balances."

Marshall Rosenberg, director of the Center for Nonviolent Communications: 

60% of the television programs watched by children, the hero either kills somebody
or beats him up. History teaches about the good Americans who killed innocent
people. I believe engaging in self-empathy supports us to stop and transform
the thinking that creates violence. It is a very important part of peace on our
planet. We need to take time each day to remind ourselves of the preciousness
of compassionate giving and receiving. If we have played violent games with
other people—guilt games, shame games, anger games, punishment games—then we
can grieve for this in a way that changes us and creates a more caring

Ed Begley, Jr., actor
nominated for six Emmy’s and an environmental activist devoted to green living: 

can make it a saner and happier world if we just slowed down and had less focus
on wanting or needing more stuff. If stuff made you happy, there would be
nothing but happy people living in Bell Air and unhappy people living in Fiji
where they have nothing, but I have been to Fiji and there are plenty of happy
people there. I have never seen a hearse with a luggage rack on top. We have
got to get away from stuff and appreciate what is here."

Matthew Fox, the founder
of the Friends of Creation Spirituality:

is calming the reptilian brain. We have all got three brains in us: One is a
reptilian brain, which is about 420 million years old, our mammal brain is half
that old, and our most recent one is the intellectual creative brain. The
reptilian brain is very prominent; it runs our respiratory and sexual systems;
it is action and reaction. We have to calm this reptilian brain so that the
mammal brain, which is the brain of compassion and is here to bring kindness
and kinship and bonding, can function. I mean, reptiles do not make good
lovers; that is not their thing. Meditation allows us to treat the reptilian brain
well: 'Nice crocodile, nice crocodile.' When we calm the crocodile, then the
mammal brain can assert itself. Meditation is not just for professional monks;
it is a survival mechanism for us all, especially in this time of crowdedness
and rubbing shoulders with people of different faiths and traditions. We all
have to learn to calm our reptilian brain."

Bernie Glassman, founder
of the Zen Peacemakers:

care of the person next to you. It might be your spouse, your child, your
parents, or it might be a stranger. It doesn't have to be big, it doesn't
matter who it is, and it doesn't matter if they have nothing to give you; you
just do it because it is there to be done. Meditation leads us to the
experience of oneness. In that state, we automatically take care of everything
we see because it is ourselves; it is not separate from us. That is the bottom
line for me: Once you take care of the delusion of separateness, then everything
else is taken care of."

Mingyur Rinpoche, author
of Joyful Wisdom:

makes problems? We humans. And who is the controller of the human? The mind.
And how to control the human mind? Through meditation. If you can control the
pilot, then the pilot can control the plane."


Do you have any meditation stories of
how meditation has helped you? Do comment below. You can receive notice of our
blogs every Thursday by checking Become a
at the top.

us for a booksigning:
MAIN EVENT November 16th at Barnes &
Nobel, 150 East 86th St., NYC, with guest speakers: Ellen Burstyn,
Robert Thurman, Cyndi Lee, Andrew Cohen and Mark Matousek.

events: Nov 11th at Powell's, 1005 Burnside, Portland OR; Nov 13th
at Barnes &Noble, 2675 NW University Village St., Seattle WA; and Nov 17th
at Gasoline Alley, 250 Albany St., Springfield MA. More details at: 




Ed and Deb Shapiro’s new book, BE
THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You And The World
, forewords
by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors such as Marianne
Williamson, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Beckwith, Jon Kabat-Zinn,
Jane Fonda, Jack Kornfield, Byron Katie, Dean Ornish, and others is published
by Sterling Ethos. Deb is the author of the award-winning book YOUR
. Ed and
Deb are the authors of over 15 books, and lead meditation retreats and
workshops. Enjoy their 3 meditation CD’s: Metta - Loving kindness and
Forgiveness; Samadhi – Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra
– Inner Conscious Relaxation, available on their website:

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