I recently went to a singing workshop in London, where we mostly sang protest songs for peace. I was struck by the power of people coming together and singing about devastation and loss, landscape and seasons. The imagery was haunting, colourful and poignant.
We sang voice parts with different rhythms and lyrics, arranged to give us moments of harmony and discord, drone and melody, moving us into quicker time or slower. It all blended together - except when it didn’t, and we needed more practice.
And then there was the silence afterwards, listening to song lines echoing in the air, and traffic noises outside the building, feeling emotion in the room, experiencing our senses stretching. Images of the land, the sheer sadness and waste of life hovered. So did the sense of hope that accompanies nature’s cycles and rhythms of growth. We were held peacefully in the space following our songs, reminded that we have a part to play that matters, not only in what we do in our own lives but also for the bigger picture of the earth.
Singing in groups is not only natural, it’s also expressive and heart/body centred. There’s something real and grounding about our experience of feeling present when we pay attention to our senses in our everyday lives and contribute with other people to something bigger.
Our daily to-do lists, our complicated circumstances and happenings can get out of control - unbalancing and ungrounding us. Maybe we start to overreact to events and the people in our lives, or we may become deadened or isolated. Social media steals time away from the real social interaction that would have stimulated our senses and kept attention in the body. We need to practice sense awareness to keep ourselves present in time, and powerful.
Peace is different from quiet. Think of the silence after a disagreement - is that just quiet, or perhaps avoidance. Or is there a quality of peace, of resolving something? Peace brings space to notice, to think and feel, and pay attention to the worlds within and outside ourselves. To rediscover what makes sense.
Spending time in nature, or walking by the sea, listening to music or painting can be universal experiences to help anyone become peaceful. But it’s personal too - for someone it may be in joyful ballet; for another an opportunity to reset by swimming underwater; for another it comes from gardening and creating space where new things can happen.
How do we develop more peace in ourselves and our lives? Some simple things can help - quietening our thoughts and stretching muscles and joints through yoga and meditation. Paying attention to our breathing also strongly changes our emotional state.
In relation to others, persevere with practising patience and accepting how things are today, as well as what else we also want. Be kind and assume we are each doing the best we can, and uphold a positive intention. Help others practically - pay it forwards with no expectations.
Our environments affect our emotional state too. Tidy up, organise and clean. Complete things important to you. Spend time creating something beautiful, that makes you smile.
Whether we are activists for climate change or social politics, busy parents or carers, working in jobs we love or hate, meditators or marathon runners… we can bring it all together. Through becoming more aware we build our consciousness of peace; we can breathe, listen and join in at the right time, in tune with the right words. And be ready to sing the next peace song.
Sian Pope works with people to help develop peace as a core strength – which has many different benefits including reducing stress, increasing choice, bringing clarity, creativity, and an open heart and mind. Sian is a qualified teacher of Meditation and Transformational Yoga, a Master Practitioner of NLP, and a skilled energy healer. Learn more at: www.heartofpeace.co.uk