Write Your Vision of World Peace
Change your perspective with this writing exercise
“Imagine all the people, sharing all the world,” John Lennon sang in 1971. Then, preempting cynics to whom the idea that imagining world peace could bring world peace might seem quixotic, he sang: “You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.” Lennon knew that envisioning is the foundation for creating even little ripples of peace both to the world and ourselves.
Writing those visions down gets the positive vibes even further out there. Maybe they’ll become…a song that can change the world.
In the music video to “Imagine," Lennon the peace monger sits at a white piano in a dark room while Yoko Ono moves around in a drapey white dress, opening the window shades. Slowly, sunlight shines in. Spreading peace by letting the light of the world shine on our sometimes dark personal bubbles was the idea of a meditation I did recently. At the Art of Living Retreat Center high in the Blue Mountains of North Carolina, I sat in a meditation hall with a small group of women, while Sri Sri Ravi Shankar guided us out of our own heads and beyond the walls of the retreat. He took us on a sort of magic carpet ride over the mountains and across oceans.
“See yourself where you sit now and feel your breath flow from your heart. Now, imagine soaring ten miles above yourself and ten miles in front of yourself,” Sri Sri said in his melodic tone. My focus immediately left my own thoughts. The angst in my body lightened and I imagined myself hovering, dragonfly-like in the tall trees outside the mediation center, then flying over the green valley around us. I floated over the small cluster of homes that I’d been seeing from the window of my room. I imagined couples waking up in their beds and their babies crawling around on this sunny, wintry morning. I imagined an older lady at her kitchen table having tea, looking out over the lush valley of the spiritual mountains.
“Now, go further,” Sri Sri said. “Soar ten thousand miles above yourself, then ten thousand miles in front of yourself.”
First, my mind went to NYC, where I live, and I saw my neighbors who I only ever pass in the hallway. Then my visions took me to India, where I have never visited (but one day, absolutely will). I visited dusty streets in a town like Kolkata that I’ve only seen in photos. I got up close to people rushing to jobs or buying spices for the day’s cooking. I saw flushed cheeks and heard people chattering and humming to themselves.
“As you visit, imagine you are spreading peace and happiness to all these beings,” Sri Sri said. “Feel that in your heart.” The feeling was pretty sweet: it’s softening to remember that the world is vast. And not in my head. I peered in the window of a small kitchen and saw a little brother and sister doing homework at a table. I wondered what the homework was. I smelled chai tea bubbling on the stove as a mother packed her childrens’ lunch.
As Sri Sri guided us back across the world, back into our seated meditation high in the mountains, I felt more there—more present—than I had 30 minutes earlier. We all opened our eyes and beamed at each other. Feeling connected with the trees outside was a relief. I opened my notebook and wrote a story about the old woman at her kitchen table. Then I went back to my room and looked out my window, imagining that she could feel me beaming good feelings across at her.
Leaving our problems on the meditation mat to visit the rest of the world seems an especially profound act today. Lennon wrote “Imagine” as a sort of love letter to all people to remember all other people. His motivation was world peace, which is the ultimate spiritual lesson: we find peace within ourselves so we can spread that feeling.
Exercise: Meditate for 5-10 minutes, envisioning yourself visiting one other place in the world beyond where you are. Breathe from your heart and slowly propel yourself outwards. See yourself from above. See yourself looking in the windows of homes or on the streets of the place where your meditation takes you. Who are you seeing? Can you look in their eyes? After ten minutes, open your eyes and start writing.
Inspiration for writing:
- Choose one of the people you saw in your meditation and write about them. Describe where they were, what they were doing, and what your connection was with them.
- Describe the landscapes you floated over in your meditation. How did your body feel as you floated? How did it feel in your heart?
- Did this meditation inspire action in you? Even so small as writing a letter? Do you now want to visit that spot you saw in your vision? Do you feel compelled to reach out to someone in another part of the world? Describe how this inspiration feels. Write a gentle plan of action.
- In a month, return to what you have written. Write about how this meditation is still relevant, one month on.