How to Stay Present For What’s Going On With the World

Being on the front lines for a global peace initiative in the form of MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, means that I regularly confront painful news. For example, devastating fires have been burning this summer in the overheating Arctic. Right now, more than two million people in Zimbabwe, and a million people in Kenya, are facing life-threatening food shortages. Typhoon Lekima has recently caused catastrophic damage in China. Deadly flooding has struck south India for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, all over the world, families are trying to put the pieces of their lives back together in the wake of violence like random mass shootings and deliberate war. I am sometimes asked how I face this and remain present and inspired to create GEM: Global Education for MAPS.

What is presence? I experience presence when I’m not resisting the moment. That is, when I am welcoming it fully as it is. I may dislike it. Or I may love it. But both of those reactions come and go like colours that I overlay on what is before me. When I am present, my heart is open, my mind is calm and clear, and I am of maximal service to all beings within the whole. That’s because when I am present, I remember that we all exist within the whole. We are each called to play our part within the totality of life. The chaos we face in the world today, or even the chaos we face within ourselves and our personal lives, are all held within the whole. When I am anchored in this reality, I feel rooted, vital and expansive, instead of reactively ungrounded, listless or constrictive.

Over the course of this Finding Your Inner Peace Sanctuary workshop, we will explore presence in much more depth. This week, we take a first look at how to stay present in the face of what’s going on in the world. Here is a simple practice. Do it as often as you can.

  • Sit up straight. Focus on your breath, as you inhale and exhale deeply, but naturally, in a relaxed manner.
  • Notice what arises in your mind. Rather than engage your thoughts, simply let them go by and return your attention to your breath. Allow yourself to feel rooted throughout your body, sensing your relationship with the ground. Experience a vitality through your spine. Notice the expansiveness of your breath.
  • Then consider this thought: In each moment, you are breathing the same air shared by all life on Earth.
  • Give yourself the time and space to be present for this truth.
  • Feel connection to the whole through your breath. It is infinitely wise, loving, present. It holds space for everything, from the most beautiful joy to the most wrenching tragedy. Rest into it and remember that you are never alone.

As we stay present to our interconnection within the whole, we find the path to inner and outer peace.

From my heart to yours,

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