Discovering Inner PeaceBy Chiletso Beatrice Phiri( Malawi)
For a very long time I had been looking for a place to belong. I didn’t find that place until I saw myself. Not in the mirror, but really see myself. My journey began when I first saw an advertisement on Facebook about a peace fellowship. My curiosity got the best of me and I clicked on the link. First I thought what is this all about? I read on and I discovered it was about meditation, inner peace, and world peace. Still, I was skeptical but then I thought ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen here?’ I smiled because maybe this fellowship could help me find inner peace. So I signed up on the website and started the 42 day self-development program, which was also a self-discovery journey for me. I began meditating and was still getting used to it. At first it was not easy staying still longer than five minutes and on top of that alone with my thoughts. To say the least, I was terrified. I was terrified that I would truly find myself, discover what I really felt, and what if I did not like what I found. What then? How could I undo it, unlearn it, and unfelt it? I took the first steps cautiously by not allowing myself to fully let go. Day after day it got easier, because as I sat still meditating I discovered things, I saw things and I felt things. I could feel the cloud of self-doubt lifting away from me like a blanket on a cold night. I was scared nonetheless because I felt exposed. I kept going and continued meditating and each day felt like a new experience as I also learned to find my center with ease and stay there longer without being distracted. I finally found myself and realized I was not so bad after all. I loved myself. I just wanted to be alone with my thoughts and I felt an overwhelming sense of peace deep inside me that I just could not explain.
Then came the fellowship and the skeptic in me kicked in and I had all sorts of doubts and I almost skipped on the fellowship because once again I did not know and I was afraid of knowing. My curiosity got the better of me though because I decided to go anyways. Being the adventurer that I am, I packed my bags and took the plane from Malawi to Kenya still unsure but positive that this could only turn out great. I left with a lot of questions in my mind though, ‘What was one supposed to do in a foreign country with foreign people in the middle of nowhere?’ But I have to admit that it changed my life.And there I was feeling like an artist presented with a blank canvas, a writer with a blank page, a dreamer with a clear head or a driver with a straight road. And I asked myself ‘What is the fuss? Why are these seemingly sane people so concerned about peace, not just peace but my inner peace and world peace?’ I did not quite understand it until I got to experience it.
And then there were the rules, simple but hard to keep because they required a whole new level of discipline I was unfamiliar with. I was used to doing what I wanted, when I wanted, and so far it seemed to work well. Saying goodbye to technology for a whole week was probably the most difficult rule for me to keep. It felt like I was being isolated from the outside world and I thought, ‘how was the world going to go on without me?’ (a gross overestimation of the worlds need of me) because I eventually discovered that the world did go on without me and I without it.
The first test of my calmness came when I discovered that I could not find my passport. Panic started to set in and I felt stuck. How was I going to leave without my passport? I was privileged to have my peace coach with me though because he counselled me and told me how it was out of my control and that I needed to think positive about it. I tried it without much luck but I eventually came to the conclusion that no matter how much worrying I did my passport was not going to come back.
The first day of meditation kicked off and I was excited, I was around people that also wanted to expand their knowledge of inner peace. I sat down quietly and breathed slowly and drifted off into my own world as I meditated away. I felt a strong sense of awareness and calmness come over me and I felt as though I was floating. About an hour later the meditation session was over and it felt like it was just ten minutes that had passed. I felt peaceful, happy, and fulfilled. Later in the day we had personal time which I used to talk to get to know people. I was inevitably drawn to a young girl named Buumba and it was as if that was not our first meeting. We were just drawn to each other and having her around made the stay more pleasant. We shared stories, smiles, and experiences and she proved to be a pool of knowledge. We met the monks and they shared theirs and to my surprise they were very friendly and relatable people. They seemed as though they were uptight and reserved people but I came to discover that they were very cool people and they gave me a refreshing insight into meditation and my life as a whole.
Throughout the five day journey the schedule was the same: wakeup call, meditation, yoga, breakfast, meditation, personal time, lunch, meditation, more personal time, pana and then finally bed time. In between all this I got time to think about my life and what I wanted. I discovered myself and I learnt a lot about myself and from other people too. I was surrounded by people that truly understood and embraced peace and I finally got it. I met a dynamic and enthusiastic group of young African leaders that both enlightened and inspired me.There were lots of eye opening activities from the ice-breaking, the peace wall, the games, and the bubble blowing. Each came with its own lesson, some were obvious and others that required some insight. I felt special, loved and cared for. I enjoyed myself and learnt some valuable lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my now peaceful life. I am a new person and I no longer feel burdened but rather I now feel purposed.
I felt so much love resonating from all the people that were at this fellowship. What I took with me as I left the fellowship was that peace is a journey; it did not end there or with me. What I learned I had to cherish, treasure and share. Now, I have inner peace that I had cultivated but how am I going to put it in action? Of the changes that I have undergone, only the people I am surrounded by can truly attest to the full benefits that this fellowship has reaped. I now feel I have found a place where I belong, where I am free to be, feel and express myself.