By Charly SHELTON
Courage, smiling, appreciation, caring, believing, simplicity, education, healing, dreaming, faith, contemplation, groundedness, creativity, humility, reverence, gratitude, integrity, freedom. These words can change the world. Not just these words, but the thoughts and actions behind them. This is the impetus behind the upcoming Season for Nonviolence, to be observed at the Center for Spiritual Living in La Crescenta.
“It started in 1998, co-founded by Dr. Arun Ghandi and Sunanda Gandhi and the Association of Global New Thought, with Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith. It starts Jan. 30 and goes through April 4 and it honors the memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Laney Clevenger White, RScP emeritus at the Center for Spiritual Living. “They started it because their mission is to heal, empower and revitalize our lives and our communities through practicing nonviolence as a way of life. So they’ve chosen words and practices that people can use every day to just kind of keep their mind focused on nonviolence as a way of living. It’s happened [over the last 18 years] in 900 cities in 67 countries.”
Every Sunday service, beginning on Jan. 31, will start with a special “soul-ebration” ceremony when the congregation will meet and make the Season of Nonviolence a part of their services. At each service, someone will light seven candles and read the seven words to be thought about each day for the next week, one word per day. This is done over nine weeks, with 64 words in total. Each word comes with an affirmation and a practice on how to implement the word in the congregant’s life.
For example, for the word appreciation, its explanation quote is “It is vital that people count their blessings to appreciate what they possess without having to undergo its actual loss.” The affirmation is “We’ve all heard the expression you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Why do we wait? Today I pause to appreciate, acknowledge and express gratitude for all that I have – my life, my health, my home, my talents, my relationships, enough food and water.” And the practice is to write down 10 things that people appreciate about themselves and their lives and tell at least one other person what they appreciate about them. This prompts participants to not only think about the word but to enact it’s meaning in their daily lives, even if only for a day.
“It’s a good practice that people, if they do it every day, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, start living and believing and acting that way,” White said.
Each Sunday, participants at the Center for Spiritual Living will receive the seven words for the coming week along with each one’s affirmation and action for daily use. White said that possibly at the end of the season there will be a meeting where participants can share how it affected their lives.
“It’s really cool and it’s so important now [with what] we hear in the news every day and what’s going on in the world,” White said. “It takes one person and another person and another person to head toward that critical mass so that eventually we will reach 51% and it tips the scale. We actually could all live in peace in the world and nonviolence in every day of our lives. This is just a good reminder to practice every day for those 64 days, to plant the seed in your mind and someone else’s mind, to help shift towards thinking nonviolently.”