The Om Experiment: Down in the Mud, Day #8

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Om Zen. Zen Om.

In his articleHow to Use Sound to Heal Yourself‘,  Roger Gabriel described Om as

“The first impulse to emerge from the silence of the absolute, or the field of Pure Potentiality, was the sound “OM” or more correctly “AUM,” according to the Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures).”

He goes on to say… “Even the Bible and modern science agree that the initial spark of creation came from sound or vibration. The Gospel, according to John says, ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God … and the Word was made flesh.’

It’s interesting that Roger Gabriel and many others have connected the ancient Hindu and Buddhist understandings of the origin of the universe, to the understanding of Christianity. But I don’t think it’s that clear and obvious. The words “In the beginning was the word… etc” do appear in the openings lines of the Bible, but there is no sense whatsoever that Christianity has the vaguest concept of what that means and how that relates to the concept of the origin of the Universe and its creation by God. Sound, as a creative force is not core to the religion, yet it prefaces everything that follows, and links sound to the concept of God himself in the opening breath of the Bible. The power of sound as the primary creative force is then fully abandoned in the rest of the Christian canon.

Interestingly, other authors and sites suggest that the opening line of the Upanishads (the Hindu holy texts) begins with “In the beginning, there was the sound and the sound was Om,” intimating that the Bible was influenced by, or that this core teaching was simply copied and pasted from one holy text to another, one religion to another.  The first movement from the unmanifest to the manifest is known as the vibration of Om. Om is the instrument of God. God is an emanation of Om. God and Om are indivisible.

Having an awareness of these concepts in my own practice is important. This week, and possibly only for this week, while I wait to move into my own house, I can work with mantra out loud. Right now this is where I feel I need to be with this experiment. Working with Om silently from the outset isn’t working well for me. But I am where I am and I have to work with what I’ve got.

Working out loud produces a deep and powerful resonance throughout the body and the mind. I am finding a deep stillness at the end of the mantra session. It is actually hard to think, to move the mind. The mind rests in stillness and there is a sense of void. Yet there is also an awareness of the stillness of the mind. An awareness that the mind and the quality of ‘voidness’ are basically the same. But what is this aspect that is doing the noting and being aware of the voidness of the mind? What is beyond it that can have an awareness of the mind as something other? The mind simply being self-aware? Reflecting on its self-nature? Within the stillness of the void, the mind moves yet is at the same time perfectly still and one with the void. It is hard to describe this sense and feeling. Words lose it. Stillness, peace, tranquility, and calm are the manifest qualities that are arising now from this mantra practice.

I would like to increase it beyond the 10 minutes a day I have set myself, but for now, will persist with the 10 minutes. It’s too early to be changing the landscape of the experiment.

Blessings to all

 

 

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Posted in Buddhism, Meditation, Mind, Body Spirit, Om mantra, Research, The Om Experiment, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Om Experiment: Down in the Mud, Day #4

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Sri Yantra

In doing my research for my new book on the power and benefits of chanting the Om mantra, I came across a wonderful little video of Deepak Chopra being interviewed about the Om, called ‘Science of Om’. Chopra states that when you sound the Om towards water or something like oil, the liquid forms itself into a Sri Yantra.

The Sri Yantra, or Sri Chakra, according to  “is called the mother of all yantras because all other yantras derive from it. In its three dimensional forms Sri Yantra is said to represent Mount Meru, the cosmic mountain at the center of the universe… The Sri Yantra is a tool to give a vision of the totality of existence, so that the adept may internalize its symbols for the ultimate realization of his unity with the cosmos. The goal of contemplating the Sri Yantra is that the adept can rediscover his primordial sources. The circuits symbolically indicate the successive phases in the process of becoming.”

So working with Om is very much linked to and associated with meditations on the Sri Yantra.

My personal practice of working with Om right now is limited by circumstance to working silently. I have not so far found this to be conducive to many beneficial results. The mind seems to be more easily distracted by the intrusion of thoughts when working silently, and more difficulty in getting a sense of the intonation of the Om.

One thing that was very apparent though was that even when done silently, I could feel the energetic cleansing across the whole of my throat. From the back of the throat all the way up to the lips. And a sense of light-headedness and spaciousness at the end of the 10 minutes.

More to come in a few days.

Note: This came in as a comment on Facebook for this particular post, so rather than lose it, I have copied and pasted it here:

Evania Ev Are you familiar with the work of Dr Emoto? changing water molecules by Om, prayer or thought. 🙂 Amazing stuff
Steve Gooch
Steve Gooch Yes I’ve come across it. Not really my focus for this but still interesting stuff.
Evania Ev
Evania Ev Power of the vibration of sound (prayer, spoken word). I reckon it all boils down to the same thing in the end…. that is what Om is about I believe Love it. 😉
Evania Ev
Evania Ev And I must admit, my favourite meditation class is when we are all doing Oms. The energy, the peace, the feeling is just amazing.
Steve Gooch
Steve Gooch Evania Ev Actually it isn’t what Om is about. It’s a very different thing altogether. Om goes much deeper than prayer or the spoken word but encompasses these practices and its objective is significantly of another order altogether. So I want very much to keep away from all other sound expressions of spirituality because they are not of the same ilk as Om 🙂
Evania Ev
Evania Ev I was simplifying Steve. You are right. words don’t do it justice. 🙂 I was excited years ago when scientists said they actually could hear the sound of atoms moving. I wondered at the time if it was the sound of Om. 🙂
Steve Gooch
Steve Gooch Evania Ev Yes, I think that is an interesting idea and I have read many commentaries where there is an assumption that the universe is essentially singing Om continuously.

Evania Ev
Evania Ev Have you ever heard of a Russian chap called Torkom Saraydarian? someone put me onto him years ago and he was a very forward thinker who explained this much better than I ever could.
Steve Gooch
Steve Gooch Nope not heard of this guy but will try to look him up.

Evania Ev
Evania Ev Thinking what you are doing is really exciting…

Steve Gooch
Steve Gooch Can I ask if it is possible please to put comments directly on the blog rather than on FB? If’ its on FB it is going to get lost and will never inform any of the blog content. I am hoping to get plenty of comment on the blog itself, so it can start to inform and expand the content of the blog posts themselves and maybe end up informing the book too. But I can’t do anything with stuff on FB. It all gets lost to fast on here.

Steve Gooch
Steve Gooch I am going to copy and paste this thread to the blog I think but I can’t continually do that as it is a nightmare collecting comments from different platforms, but I think this one is worth keeping
Posted in Buddhism, Meditation, Mind, Body Spirit, Om mantra, Research, The Om Experiment, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Om Experiment: Down in the Mud, Day #1

1Not a great start to this experiment. It was later than I wanted to start this session, but as I was in the middle of a power cut (in half the apartment only, and with some random power points also knocked out), there was not much else to do. Perfect time to have a go at Om-ing for 10 minutes.

Sat on the corner of my bed, in 40 degree heat, and finding a power point that was working, I plugged in the fan and sat with air blasting into my face for 10 minutes. Om-ing into the wind and finding that perched on the corner of my bed isn’t the greatest posture, was not an auspices start to this experiment.

Probably a resest is needed. It won’t be tomorrow though as I am travelling from Cairo to London and no Om-ing will take place tomorrow. Hopefully the following day.

Back in two to three days with an update.

 

Posted in Buddhism, Meditation, Mind, Body Spirit, Om mantra, Research, The Om Experiment | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Om Experiment: Down in the Mud (Prelude) Day #1

Om

Om in the Tibetan Uchen script

My new book requires research into the mantra ‘Om’. It’s not a subject that is entirely unfamiliar to me. I’ve been using it for a number of years, along with it’s associated visual representation from the Tibetan Uchen script in my practice of the Buddho meditation, a tantric practice emanating from the teachings of the Vajra Guru, Padmasambhava. But I have never explored this bija or seed syllable in any depth or worked with it on its own.

The more research I do, the more I feel the need to dig deeper into the meanings and mysteries of this enigmatic sound device. I want to know: does it do what it says on the tin?

Truth be told, when I first broached the subject of writing about the Om mantra to a friend in Cairo, his first comment was was that I should base my research and my writing around the experiences of those who had actually worked with it, rather than rely on textual evidence. Sound advice for sure, but I don’t actually know anyone who has worked with Om.

So there was really only one solution: be the guinea pig and generate evidence based on my own personal engagement with the mantra. So the Om Experiment was born. Here and now, on this page of my blog. Ground zero, somewhere down in the mud.

The plan: to work with the Om mantra on a daily basis (as much as I can), sounding it out loud and as an internal process. I’ll start with a 10-minute session each day, recording my observations, feelings, and insights and reporting back here, hopefully, a couple of times a week. Its sort of a rough plan with no fixed time limit. I’m just going to start and see where this journey takes me.

First session tomorrow.

Posted in Buddhism, Buddho, Meditation, Mind, Body Spirit, Om mantra, Research, The Om Experiment | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Buddho Meditation Group on Insight Timer

I have set up a Buddho Meditation Group on the app ‘Insight Timer’. It is there to allow those who have trained in the Buddho MedAvalokiteshvaraitation anywhere in the world, and to any level to come together and to engage in a group meditation practice of this very important and powerful tantric meditation.

Insight Timer requires that I invite you into this group via email. If you wish to be a part of this group please put your email address in the comments to this note. NOTHING ELSE. As I need to simply copy and paste the email addresses into the invite field on Insight Timer and then send out the invite to you.

As I am just figuring out Insight Timer, it might be that you can in fact search for the group on the app itself and apply to join. If this is the case then apply and I will accept you into the group.

Please note: Instructions on how to do the Buddho meditation are not given on the group. It is assumed that you have already had the necessary training in this practice.

PLEASE SHARE THIS NOTE WITH ANYONE THAT YOU KNOW WHO HAS RECEIVED TRAINING IN THE BUDDHO MEDITATION.

Many thanks,

Posted in Buddhism, Buddho EnerSense, Meditation, Mind, Body Spirit, Reiki, Reiki Jin Kei Do | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Vegan Got Hip

The following article appeared in Cairo East, June 2018

Over the last few years, veganism has been battling its way into the public consciousness. Eschewing the conventional ‘wisdom’ of past generations, the young guns of Egypt’s ‘cool’ are driving forward a new food and lifestyle agenda. And at the heart of it is a resolute assertion, based on compassion, a sense of personal wellbeing and solid scientific proofs, that it is simply not right, logical or healthy to be eating the corpses of other beings. Meat is not necessary, the vegans say. Nor is it right to be consuming eggs, cheese, milk, and honey, all of which lead to the unnecessary suffering and exploitation of other species. And do significant harm to your own health in the process.

The new vegans, reveling in their encampment on the moral high ground of nutritional superiority, are a part of an explosive global movement for a less violence-orientated dietary regime. In the UK alone, veganism has increased by over 400% in the last few years and in the US by a staggering 600%. Not catering for vegans is becoming financial suicide for a growing number of food outlets in many countries. Is veganism the future? Almost certainly it seems, yes.

Veganism as a definable concept came into being in 1944 when the term was coined by the Englishman, Donald Watson who adhered to a lifestyle free from animal exploitation. For many years, veganism was on the back foot, fighting its corner, presenting its evidence to a hostile scientific community and food industry, and a public whose main response had been dismissive ridicule. Vegans were the fringe crazies at the party. But no more.

In Egypt, the embracing of the vegan agenda has taken a while to get going. Deeply entrenched (and wrong-headed) old wives tales about how meat is necessary for a healthy diet (“where do you get your protein?”) and how bones get brittle if you don’t drink milk (osteoporosis, a bone disorder linked to insufficient calcium is most prevalent in those who drink the most milk – dairy farmers) continue to prevail. But more and more individual citizens are rejecting this as the unscientific nonsense that it is.

Vegans are known to have significantly lower rates of obesity, reduced risk of type II diabetes and lower incidents of cardiovascular disease. Whilst consuming increased quantities of fruits and vegetables helps to reduce the risk of contracting certain cancers, especially colon cancer. The development of kidney stones, gallstones, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and gum disease are also exacerbated by consuming meat and other animal products.

And there are environmental costs too. The meat industry is the biggest single contributor to global warming on the planet. According to the Worldwatch Institute, 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions come from animal agriculture – far outstripping the impact of the oil and car industries combined. There is also the issue of resource depletion. It takes approximately 78 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of beef protein, 22 calories for 1 calorie of poultry, but jut I calorie of fossil fuel for 1 calorie of soybeans. Water consumption to produce animal products for consumption is crazy. It takes 3 to 15 times as much water to produce animal protein as it does plant protein.

So as a prospective vegan, where do you start? As amazing as koshary, foul and falafel and lashings of bessara are, sometimes you just want a good old-fashioned burger – Big Mac style. And how about pizza? What are you going to do to replace all that cheese?

The reality is, you don’t have a lot of options. Vegan consumers are not on the radar of the major food manufacturers, or indeed supermarkets scouting new products to import from more vegan-conscious countries. If you’re going to go vegan you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and start experimenting in your own kitchen. Or there’s salad. Endless salad.

Alternatively, you can get in touch with Yasmine Nazmy; vegan-guru and author of ‘Happy Belly’, Egypt’s first vegan cookbook. Yasmine has been at the forefront of promoting the vegan lifestyle for some time and is the owner of Earthly Delights, a home delivery service that caters for the meat (and eggs, milk, cheese etc) averse consumer, and Kaju, the vegan food company, best known for its range of vegan ice cream.  Earthly Delights and Kaju are going from strength to strength as the vegan and vegetarian communities expand across Egypt. Yasmine herself has been the subject of numerous articles and interviews over the past couple of years and is a leading light in the Facebook-based Vegetarian and Vegan Society of Egypt, which now has over eight thousand members and is growing at an astonishing rate. Check it out for tips, tricks and amazing recipes posted by the group’s users.

Also worth checking out is Kouhl.com, the online healthy lifestyle magazine that actively promotes an ‘Egyptianised’ vegan agenda and has some great articles and recipes. And don’t miss the inspiring blog posts and recipes on One Arab Vegan.

The exponential growth of veganism across the world has been astonishing, and there is no indication that it is going to do anything other than speed up even more. Some would say that it is about time that Egypt got on board with the new world food order, after all, there are strong indications that our very survival might depend on it due to the environmental costs of sticking our heads in the sand and continuing as before. In reality, it would be more accurate to say that the rest of the world is possibly finally getting on board with something that was essentially Egyptian in the first place. According to researchers at the University of Lyon, the ancient Egyptians ate a diet that is very similar to that of modern-day vegetarians and vegans. The mass consumption of animal products is, in historical terms, a more recent phenomenon and one that is slowly but surely giving way to the upsurge of veganism across the planet.

 

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Reiki Transformation

The following article first appeared in Cairo East, April 2018Reiki Transformation Cairo East April 2018

Scan your eyes across the ocean of well-being practices that are threatening to drown us all in a tsunami of asanas, meditations, pendulums and oils, and you will see one or two really big waves dominating all of the froth.

One of the biggest out there right now is the Reiki wave. Admittedly not quite as big as the Yoga wave, but Reiki Transformation Cairo East April 2018 (4)there is a surge going on and Reiki is rising.

But what is this thing called ‘Reiki’ that everyone’s rushing to learn? That depends on who you ask. Most Reiki practitioners will tell you that it’s a simple hands-on healing system, using the energy of the universe. And that Reiki can instigate a deep sense of peace and tranquillity and aid in healing on all levels of being. And it works whether you believe in it or not.

That would be a fair description of Reiki up to a point, but it’s not the whole story. A better description would be that it’s a deep and personal self-development practice designed to help bring about a complete transformation in the life of the practitioner on all levels. It’s a method for helping to eliminate the suffering that we are all subject to on a daily basis. It’s a method to help us cope with every day stress, to resolve anxieties and return us to a state of freedom from negative emotions and the trauma of past experiences. Reiki is not just a hands-on energy healing method but includes a deep engagement with trusted and time-tested meditation methods. These are enhanced and deepened through a connection to the universal energy that can, incidentally, be used in hands-on healing. The two methods support each other in a symbiotic relationship.

Sadly, as Reiki has grown in popularity, it has, through the usual process of not very mystical osmosis, taken on all the attributes of just another marketable commodity on the shelves of the wellbeing supermarket. Stripped down and divested of much that gave it meaning, many of its teachers have sometimes committed as little as an afternoon or a day to their own Reiki Master’s training. Essentially then; masters of nothing.

There are however, an increasing number of people, interested in the deeper developmental aspects of Reiki, who are looking for and demanding a more traditional approach to the discipline. A method that not only combines the hands-on healing aspects, but also the meditation and breathing methods that allow them to really work in a profound way on themselves.

Reiki Jin Kei Do, is one of those traditional methods. It’s a method that dates back to the founder of the system (a Japanese man; Mikao Usui who wanted to develop a method to help people get rid of the suffering in their own lives) and encourages its students to reflect deeply on the nature of their own lack of physical, emotional or mental wellbeing. ‘Reiki Jin Kei Do’ means ‘the way of Reiki through compassion and wisdom’, and has at its heart, a focus on meditation methods that help to develop and strengthen these two qualities. Qualities that are sort of essential for effectively working on others when they come for a Reiki treatment.

It’s the focus on meditation that is one of the key differences between the traditional approach to Reiki and other approaches. Science is increasingly recognising the benefits of a regular meditation practice. It’s well known that a practice of meditation will help reduce the lactate concentration of the blood, which if not addressed could lead to a state of metabolic acidosis. Meditation is also known to help reduce stress and anxiety levels and to bring about a much deeper sense of calm and peace in the practitioner. So proven are the effects of meditation that it is being introduced into many schools around the world as it helps students improve their mental focus and therefore their academic achievement. It also helps to reduce instances of poor behaviour in the classroom.

Meditation then, is central to the practice of Reiki because of the many well-known mental and emotional and thus physical benefits that follow on from it. But more than this, Reiki Jin Kei Do emphasises respect for the integrity of the system itself. Nothing is added in to the practice and nothing is taken out. This is fairly unique. It is getting increasingly hard these days to find a Reiki teacher who teaches the pure essence of the system; without including their own personal beliefs, other wellbeing practices, or increasingly bizarre New Age concepts. To become a teacher of Reiki Jin Kei Do or another traditional form of Reiki could take a year or more, and there are not many willing to commit to that sort of discipline. Those that do make a commitment to teaching the system in its pure form. This means keeping their own beliefs and other practices and methods out of what they teach, so that no potential student is left feeling disenfranchised.

As a hands-on therapy, the benefits of Reiki are also becoming increasingly well recognised. In the UK, Reiki is being used extensively with cancer patients. The Sam Buxton Sunflower Healing Trust, raises money to fund Reiki for cancer victims within the UK’s National Health Service. Practitioners are placed in hospitals or other cancer related centres and work alongside conventional medical approaches. Patients consistently give positive feedback on the benefits that they receive from Reiki. One study from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, noted that when Reiki is used on cancer patients, “…fatigue decreases over the course of treatments, there is an improvement in the quality of life, and there are significant decreases in levels of tiredness, pain and anxiety.” Chemotherapy patients who have received Reiki, also report a significant decrease in the side effects of the treatment. This, combined with the meditative disciplines of Reiki Jin Kei Do are ensuring the primacy of Reiki amongst the plethora of alternative and complementary methods designed to bring about a state of wellbeing.

There are a small number of traditional Jin Kei Do teachers that you can connect with if you wish to learn Reiki. Nefertiti Afifi, Miral Dera and Zeinab Aloub can all be contacted via Facebook.

Tips for finding a good Reiki teacher:

1/ Always ask if a teacher has a lineage (the line of teachers back to the founder). Many Reiki teachers don’t, but it’s a cornerstone of the system. If they don’t have this, what else is missing from what they are teaching?

2/ Find out how long they took over their master’s training. Many are claiming the title ‘Reiki Master’ after a weekend or an afternoon’s training. A Jin Kei Do Master will have taken a year or more.

3/ How long should you wait between levels of training? If you can fast-track through the system in a matter of days or even weeks, it’s likely you are going to get very little other than the basics. Not good.

4/ Ask about what support is offered after the training. Are there regular support meetings that you can attend? Is there online support?

Posted in Mind, Body Spirit, Motivational, New Age, Reiki, Reiki Jin Kei Do | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Spirit Guides in Reiki

Spirit Guides in Reiki Resonance Winter 2018The following article appeared in the UK Reiki Federation magazine, ‘Resonance’, Winter 2018.

The genius of Mikao Usui was that in distilling a set of practices and philosophies into what became known as Reiki, he created a spiritual method that is universal and totally secular in every sense. There is no requirement to believe in anything. There are no gods, Ascended Masters, spirit guides, Angels, Bodhisattvas or any other, other-dimensional beings in Usui’ s Reiki.

As my Reiki Master, Gordon Bell said to me many years ago, when you teach Reiki, it’s like giving everyone a clear glass of water. They can then add their own flavour. That flavour might be Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, pagan, shamanic, New Age, Spiritualist. It doesn’t matter. Everyone gets the same clear essence, unpolluted by the teacher’s own beliefs.

Now this might not be a popular position to take in today’s Reiki Community, soaked as it is in a Judeo-Christian/New Age mythos, but the teaching of Reiki with the concept of ‘Reiki Guides’ or spirit guides embedded in it, is a profound corruption of the pure essence that Usui created.

In the West, there is an acceptance that Reiki Guides are a part of the system and that it is okay to teach about them in a class. As a personal practice, working with Reiki Guides (or reciting verses from the Bible or the Quran, or channeling some other-worldly being) might be your thing. But it isn’t a part of Usui’s pure system. There is a difference between your personal practice and orientation to Reiki and what you pass off as being a part of Reiki, when you teach it to others. One is acceptable, the other is not.

The problem is that the West’s numerous distortions of Usui’s pure essence has slammed the door to exploring Usui’s method in the face of many people outside of the West.

I have been teaching Reiki for many years in Egypt and other countries and I have found myself having to defend the practice and reassure students because of what they read on the internet about spirit guides in Reiki.

Spirit guides, in these countries, are not necessarily seen as the benevolent beings that they are generally assumed to be in the West. Certainly, in Egypt, where many of my students are Muslim, the idea of spirit guides has sometimes raised genuine fear. Some have conflated these beings with the Muslim conception of the ‘Djinn’. The Djinn, according to Islamic lore, are responsible for human possession and are shapeshifters. They can influence your dreams and create nightmares.

If not Djinn, it is assumed that the concept of spirit guides might be a reference to demonic forces. Again, something that can raise genuine fear.

I am sure, that had Mikao Usui felt it to be beneficial to include spiritual beings into the system of Reiki, he would have done so. But he didn’t. As Bronwen and Frans Stiene pointed out in their 2006 article ‘Spirit Guides Within the System of Reiki’ on their International House of Reiki website, “… the Japanese Reiki techniques that have been passed down (from Usui) contain no direct techniques to teach one to work with Kami or spirit guides. In techniques such as byosen ho and reiji ho the Reiki practitioner is called upon to develop intuitive abilities within herself.

“Intuition is an internal process that develops over time and, if nurtured correctly, it can become an open doorway to connecting with your inner wisdom.”

The point of Usui’s spiritual system, in common with many Buddhist practices (Usui was himself a Buddhist), was to give the spiritual seeker a set of tools through which they could develop themselves spiritually. Through their own hard work and commitment to the practices, they could begin to realise their own true nature, develop their mind of wisdom and their heart of compassion.

Reiki needs to return to its origins to fulfill Usui’s wish to make his system accessible to all, and not disenfranchise those who don’t want to be associated with these other-worldly beings. Whether these beings are good or bad, is just a matter of cultural perception. The system doesn’t need them and they are of no benefit to someone committed to their own inner work.

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Time for 12seconds for Peace?

As the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists resets the Doomsday Clock to just two minutes to Armageddon for the first time since 1953, it might be time to reflect on a project that was permanently set at just 12 seconds for Peace.

Back in 2009, as the smartphone was starting to dominate the mobile phone market, and prior to the launch of most of the popular social media apps we all know today, a project was launched that gave voice to the desire for peace of ordinary people around the world.

12seconds for Peace, built on the back of the now-defunct social media platform ‘12seconds.TV’ was a collaborative video-arts project, that was fast becoming a global phenomenon. Backed by the then-Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Bryant McGill, and Julian Lennon’s ‘White Feather Foundation’ amongst others, the project asked people to create a 12 second video on what peace meant to them. The videos flooded in. It’s amazing how much you can say in just 12 seconds. Farmworkers from Canada, lawyers from Lithuania, rock musicians from Spain, housewives from Palestine, businessmen from the USA, Bollywood stars, all contributed. Music production company, Murdock’s Trinity Records in Arizona made concert goers stop in front of a camera to make a video, prior to entering the heavy metal concert they were staging.  The global cross-section of those clamouring for peace was monumental.

The only rules to follow were: no finger pointing, no religion and no going over 12 seconds. Most people back in those days didn’t have a smartphone and the video quality on those that were around, was not that great. So those wishing to contribute, were basically forced to use a video camera and then plug it or its memory card into their computer, download and then upload to the site. It was a pain to say the least. But many made the effort.

A 6-year old girl sat on a sofa in Palestine, while the bombs dropped in the background, asked why we couldn’t all live in peace. An 8-year old boy in Arizona wanted the soldiers to come home from Afghanistan.  A poet in Canada lay down in front of a tank. Musicians sang, activists shouted, artists painted, and children cried.

Peace is an elusive concept. For some it is a state of mind and a way of being. For others, it is the cessation of violence and the ending of war caused by our governments. Others add that peace is not just the end of violence but also the cultivation of positive qualities such as compassion, goodwill and social justice. However you define it, we all want it and we all have our own roads to it.

As 12seconds for Peace grew, it started to get noticed by the celebrity-class and the question arose; what to do with all of those videos? The pressure-cooker of it’s success was starting to heat up and out of it grew its first tangible expression: The Global Concert for Peace.

The Global Concert for Peace was scheduled to be held at the pyramids of Egypt on Peace Day 2013 and had the tentative support of Peace One Day (the NGO responsible for engineering the day of peace through the United Nations), who were planning a concert in Rio De Janeiro for the same day. The two concerts would be twinned together. A third concert was added in Alexandria on the north coast of Egypt.

As a backdrop to the celebrity singers performing in Cairo, the 12seconds for Peace videos; faces and voices of ordinary citizens clamouring for peace, would be projected onto the pyramids by British artist, Pete Thornley.

The Egyptian government provided the concert venue for free, along with hotel accommodation for the performers and flights. Pete Lawrence, music producer, and creator of the Big Chill music festivals in the UK, agreed to orchestrate the project. A film company in Australia offered their services in recording the event and helping with the 12seconds videos. There was talk of trying to add London to the schedule of venues. The whole project was spiraling madly into potentially the biggest musical event in the history of the world, with the apex performance being held at the most prestigious venue on the planet: the ancient pyramids of Egypt.

And then in January 2011, the Egyptian Revolution happened. Chaos, blood and death ensued. Tanks and bodies and banners in the streets. The concert was shelved. Soon after, 12seconds for Peace itself was also mothballed.

The plans for the videos had been prodigious. Once edited, they would have been shown not only at the pyramids, but in art spaces around the world, formed the backdrop for various musical events and screened in any public space that would take them. The urgency of the message was visible and palpable, streaming from videos made by people all over the world.

Perhaps as the Doomsday clock ticks inexorably towards midnight, it is time for 12seconds for Peace to once more give voice to the ordinary citizens of the world.

Posted in Art, Egypt, Music, Peace, Promotion, Video | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want

Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do (A No F*cks Given Guide)Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do by Sarah Knight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was the book I needed to read and read now. I read all the reviews about how Sarah Knight comes off as a bit too self-absorbed in all of her own sht that she has successfully managed to reign in and then splurge across the pages of this book. No arguing with that. But the book moves at a hell of a pace, with no real time to get bogged down in her anecdotes. And besides, they are actually informative and illustrative of most of the points she is making. And the points are all very worth making because most of us at some point in our lives are guilty of not getting our sht together. And we should. I’m working on mine right now and taking a whole bunch of tips from this book as a starting point.

A light-weight book, with an obvious premise maybe, with nothing to say that has not been said a gazillion times by others, but it doesn’t hurt to hammer home some truths that could fundamentally alter the direction of someone’s life for the better. And that has got to be a good thing.

Kudos to Sarah Knight for writing this. Love the no-holds-barred approach of this book and if the expletives offend you, well, why are you reading a book with a title like ‘Get Your Sh*t Together’?

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