The Third Shanti

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We’ve been chatting about the ending
of some practices, during which we chant shanti, shanti, shanti. The
first shanti is to beam internal healing or some kind of wonderful
intention for ourselves. The second shanti is to send some
peaceful, healing energy to someone else.

The third shanti opens up such a whack
of troubles for me that I’m reluctant to begin this conversation.

The third shanti is meant to send peace
or healing intent to the world, if I’ve got it right.

That’s sweet. Here are my struggles
with it:

  1. The reality is that if I mention
    God, gay marriage, abortion, Palestinian-Israeli conflict, should we
    be killing people for peace in Iraq or Afghanistan, or should we
    have killed Osama bin Laden, just for starters, there’ll be no
    peace even among this peaceful yoga crowd. I wonder if we are egos
    who want peace as-long-as. As in, peace as long as I get what I want, peace
    as long as I feel safe. Peace as long as the world doesn’t change
    too much for me. Peace as long as you don’t rock my decisions
    about what’s right and wrong. Which leads me to …

  2. I wonder if the trip to genuine
    peace for many of us would involve a whole lot of shaking up that
    might not feel peaceful at all. Is that what we want?

  3. Sometimes I don’t even like the
    word “peace.” “Keep the peace” sounds like restraint of
    intent and expression. Perhaps this comes from growing up with five
    siblings and two strict parents. Perhaps it comes from feeling that
    a good life depends upon speaking your heart and mind without
    reservation, without worrying about making waves.

  4. On the other hand, the deep,
    profound contentment and joy I find during the meditation part of my
    practice is also “peace.” I love this version of the word.

As one mucked up human being, I am
incapable of figuring this out, of discerning the difference between
what is true and what is my own resistance in all of this. And for
Pete’s sake, there isn’t time to figure all of this out when
we’re chanting shanti, shanti, shanti at the end of a class.

What it means, in practice, is that on
that third shanti I stay away from peace. Instead I do my best to
open my heart and offer love as I know it to the planet. “Love” is a
word I trust. It doesn’t carry the ambivalence and unanswered
questions that peace does for me.

You’re wiser than I am. I know it.
I look forward to hearing what “peace to the planet” means to
you.

Thanks to yoga for encouraging us to
find our way toward all the good words. Thanks to you for the
conversation,

kristin

Dr.
Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All
Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the
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