What Does International Peace Day Mean to You?

Written by Siddhi Latey (Weloquent)

My great grandfather had a treasure trove of intriguing yet simple stories. On one evening, my cousins and I sat around him waiting for him to open his humble box of paan, while he reminisced about his younger days and recalled stories from Panchatantra, The Gita, or Indian folk tales. 

As he carefully picked his paan for the evening, he picked a story for the day -

“Once upon a time, Gautama Buddha was journeying South followed by his disciples. As the group reached a lake, Buddha requested one of his disciples to fetch him some water. On coming closer to the lake, his disciple saw that the villagers were washing their clothes in the water and a bullock-cart was crossing the lake. He returned to Buddha informing him that the muddy water was unfit for drinking. 

After a few hours passed, Buddha again requested his disciple to quench his thirst with water from the same lake. This time however, when he reached the lake, the water was clear and so he collected some in a pot for his teacher. When Buddha drank the clear water, he explained to his followers that the lake has great resemblance to our minds. When you give the lake time and let it rest, the mud will settle down on its own. He then advised to let disturbed minds settle down at their own pace until they effortlessly calm down. Peaceful minds then go on to affect their surroundings positively: making all those around it just as beatific.”

With the intention of promoting peace against differences, the International Peace Day is observed each year on 21 September. Established in 1981 by a unanimously passed United Nations resolution, this day aims to advance a culture of peace through communal harmony. The International Peace Day acknowledges the death and destruction inflicted by acts of violence and war, and attempts to highlight the significance of world peace.  

Reflecting on how peace is observed closer to home, I am reminded of the Sanskrit mantra, “Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.” The word Shanti is repeated thrice to represent peace in body, speech, and the mind. Hence I think the best way to celebrate International Peace Day is to help ourselves and teach ourselves how to shift into a state of complete ease, peace and universal love through the following three ways:- 

Attaining Bodily Peace

The first step to attaining peace is to come to terms with your own body. Embrace it, accept it and cherish it, no matter its size, its colour or its shape. 

A great way to accomplish this is through exercise. Exercise paves way for a healthy heart and improves blood circulation. Take on virtual dance classes, go for a jog in your neighbourhood, or join a sport to utilise your body’s energy in the correct manner. Performing yoga is another great way to nurture a peaceful living as yoga is a union of mind, body, and your spirit. 

Spend time with your body, get to know it better and you will find yourself more in tune and harmony with yourself.

Attaining Peace Through Speech

Education allows for a better understanding of the world and is therefore a core element of peace. Lack of knowledge on the other hand, makes us ignorant towards the troubles of our fellow human beings. To promote ideas of inclusivity, equity, and bridging the gaps caused by the differences in class, cast, creed, race, etc., we must first educate ourselves. 

Second of all, we should exercise moderation of speech - speaking only to uplift those around us, never to push them down, make them feel inferior or lower their confidence. As E. Lockhart puts it, “be a little kinder than you have to.” The joy and peace you give to others will double up and bounce right back at you to make you feel serene. 

Attaining Peace of Mind

The stress induced by the routines of daily life may cause unsettling ripples in your mind. Hence, we must make an attempt to pinpoint on what exactly bothers us. Just like we clean our desks and bedrooms, we must take out time to declutter our minds.

Procrastination worsens worries and more likely than not, you are already aware of what needs to be done to solve your problems - and the sooner you do it the better.

Furthermore, practicing mindful meditation will help you relax your mind by increasing your patience and tolerance levels and providing new perspectives to deal with during stressful situations. There are various apps such as Calm, Headspace, Buddhify and Walking Meditation that might help you identify meditation techniques that work best for you.

Similarly, Pranayama, the art of controlled breathing, has the power to strengthen the connection between your mind and your body while promoting mindfulness and relaxation.