Here in Asheville, NC, ranks of the Occupy movement have struggled peacefully to keep their encampments. Recently there was a march in protest of occupier arrests.
Bloggers on The Huffington Post have commented eloquently about the widespread protests and the statement being made from Oakland to New England.
In support of social change, there's another powerful approach, one that's complimentary to all viewpoints -- an approach essential to social evolution, yet so quiet it's easily drowned out amid the general media's focus on the obvious and sensational.
That approach: meditation.
"Change Begins Within"
The above phrase was coined by David Lynch as the theme of his philanthropic foundation's annual benefit event to support Transcendental Meditation stress-reduction programs for students and at-risk populations -- such as Native Americans, veterans with PTSD, child prostitutes, prison inmates and the homeless.
Why this initiative to teach people a meditation technique -- why not food, shelter, clothing, or job training, as other altruistic organizations provide?
Because real change begins within. Our world is as we are. It will always be necessary to affect responsible change on the outside, but whatever good can be accomplished in society depends on the quality of heart and mind of those creating the change -- individually and collectively.
Besides, everybody needs to dissolve stress, and research shows that effective meditation is the most powerful stress buster there is.1 Stress wears you down. It clouds your mind and diverts you from right decisions. Doctors say it can kill you. And the total stress of all individuals coalesces to become collective stress--affecting the overall quality of life in society.
Meditating for Social Change
Imagine: countless numbers of people across the country, in their homes or together in meditation halls, sitting, closing their eyes and transcending, experiencing a level of consciousness where we're all interconnected. What if, by silently stirring this underlying, unified field, an influence of orderliness and cooperation could be created throughout collective consciousness -- dissolving social tensions and relieving government gridlock, stimulating economic confidence and supporting positive change?
Such a project is quietly underway and gathering momentum, on both national and global levels. In Fairfield, Iowa, 2000 meditators -- volunteers from 50 countries, of all races and religions -- assemble morning and evening, seven days a week to further this endeavor. Similar large, permanent "coherence-creating" groups are forming in South America, Europe, Australia, and throughout India and Asia.
Teams of forward-thinking scientists have tracked this phenomenon and published their studies in peer-reviewed sociological journals--showing promising results.2
I have written on The Huffington Post of this harmonizing influence that meditators have on others -- the scientifically measurable "field effect" ("Did Group Meditation Cause The Plummeting Crime Rate?" and "Are We All Interconnected By An Underlying Field?").
The extended societal influence of meditation aside, consider this: The effectiveness of everything we do -- for ourselves or others -- depends on the clarity of our consciousness, how much of our individual creative potential is available.
Meditation at its best allows us to tap into our inner reserves of creativity, clarity and orderliness of mind; it opens our awareness to the field of all possibilities within human consciousness and spontaneously rids us of obstacles that block our higher judgment.
Through effective meditation we can develop and fully occupy our own consciousness -- infusing possibilities that our minds have never seen -- and thereby gain the wherewithal to accomplish the big, positive changes needed in the outer world.
Creativity and World Problems
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi taught that all societal problems are rooted in a lack of human creativity. At the basis of every human mind -- deep within, beyond ordinary waking consciousness -- is a field of limitless creativity and intelligence. Through correct meditation, this untapped potentiality can be experienced and unfolded by anyone. The results are transformative, for each meditator individually and for the whole society.
"Our inability to see clearly is not due to some inadequate arrangement of the objects of our vision. Although, as a result of restoring our sight, we shall be better able to rearrange those objects, our first task is to reclaim our full powers of seeing.
"Although there are certainly many things in the world to be put right, we shall not be able to accomplish this humane ideal by mere reshuffling the environment. It will never humanly succeed until we can see and appreciate that environment at its full value, until we can envision all its possibilities with expanded heart and mind so that they may be actualized to the advantage of everyone and everything in nature.
"Men and women, however great their responsibilities, have up to now been reduced to reshuffling the environment to varying effect, just because they have not known how to claim this birthright. As a result, it is becoming commonplace to point out that, in spite of prodigies of technological skill, in spite of explosions of objective information, mankind continues to suffer from collective disasters and individual inadequacies.
"When we resume contact with this deep source of creativity within us, we are able to appreciate all the limits that circumstances impose and see beyond them.
"That source within us from which all change arises, the interior reservoir of creative energy, gives to those who have learned to systematically draw upon it a quiet and justified confidence born of inner silence and strength."
1. American Journal of Health Promotion 12:297-299, 1998
2. Crime and Justice, IV, 26-45,1981; Journal of Mind and Behavior, 9, 457-486, 1989; Journal of Conflict Resolution, 34(4), 756-768, 1990; Social Indicators Research, 47: 153-201, 1999