Peace One Day

Wherever there is conflict there are people suffering, whether it is the current conflict in Syria or elsewhere in the world. Whether it is the couple next door arguing or the child being picked upon by bullies at school, people get hurt. Every day I see adults who as children have been wounded deeply as a consequence of parental relationship breakdown or as a consequence of bullying.

A recent study conducted by researchers from Warwick University and Duke University, North Carolina (1) concluded that bullying has major ramifications with regard to the physiological effects of bullying on people’s stress and immune systems. Furthermore the long term effects are profound, with school performance, difficulty maintaining jobs, friendships, family and social relationship difficulties to name but a few. Seldom does a year pass without another report of a suicide whether from cyber-bullying or other hidden bullying.

Anybody who has been bullied will know that bullying is not a “harmless rite of passage” or an inevitable part of growing up. It casts a “long shadow” over the lives of both victims and the perpetrators of bullying. (1) Those adults who say that “school was the best days of our lives” clearly were not picked on and humiliated by bullies at the school gate.

Parents, who use children as pawns or weapons in a relationship breakdown, are so fuelled by hatred that they forget the impact of this emotional game. I would go so far as to suggest it is “abuse” of one party by the other, with the child being “abused by proxy” and caught in the crossfire. An atmosphere of tension is “toxic” and most unhealthy for our children.

The problem is, that in any war whether global, relationship, playground or other, is that satisfying one party will very often only cause great suffering to the other. In other words, to defeat one side in order to satisfy their anger impacts deeply on the other.  Many of the roots of conflict come about directly as a result of the way we live our lives.

As we look at a stranger from another land and view them as “a scrounger playing the system” we all need to consider our thoughts and the seed that is sown by such thoughts.  We need to try to step back and see their suffering. Do we know what they have been through, poverty, war, rape or worse. We all have plenty to give and to share with others.  As we walk by the beggar on the street we need to ask ourselves how did he (or she) get here. As Martin Luther King stated in his 1967 “beyond Vietnam” speech: “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar… it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

Our society needs to embrace compassion and love. As individuals we all need to practise non-violence.  Whether it is the producers of toxic television programmes that are filling young minds with irresponsible ideas, or fly tipping trucks polluting our countryside, we all need to be more responsible. To look out for each other. Everything we do from the food we eat, to the way we greet others, the way live our lives makes a difference.

With mental illness affecting one in four people in the UK we need to ask ourselves what this is all about. With people walking by as somebody is being assaulted, we need to ask what is all this about. With countryman fighting countryman we need to ask what this is all about. We need to care for each other. Take time to sit and listen to others. To ask the beggar how he got there…but we don’t, why, because we are all too afraid. Peace comes from within and compassion arises out of peace.

No matter how small, everyday acts of kindness can help make peace a reality; whether it is standing up for somebody in trouble, saying sorry, reconnecting with an old friend, or helping someone you see who’s in need of assistance. Of course, random acts of kindness should take place all year round, but we would like to invite you to join with others around the world to give this wonderful idea special focus on Peace Day 21 September.

Wherever you are, at home, school, or work, you can help improve the quality of the lives of the people around you, including your family, colleagues, teachers, classmates or friends.

Sometimes the simplest things can have the most immediate and meaningful impact on the lives of everyone around you. (2)

Until next time, Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.


(1) Bullying does long term damage, Therapy Today. September 2013, Vol 24,  issue 7. P5.


General reference: Peace is every step: The path of mindfulness in everyday life by Thich Nhat Hanh, 1991, Rider.

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Daily Mindfulness Practice


This blog goes out to all those interested in cultivating mindfulness in daily living and especially to those lovely students from Queens University who were at the mindfulness class at Herstmonceux Castle today. Also, a thank you to Christina Feldman for her excellent workshop yesterday at the Sussex Mindfulness Centre.

  • Begin at the start of the day before you get out of bed. Bring your attention to your breathing, take two slow mindful breaths and give thanks for the day ahead.
  • On rising from bed, have a big stretch, feel your body waking up and beginning to energise.
  • Take a moment or two to notice your posture. Become aware of the ground beneath your feet…and breathe.
  • As you dress and get ready for the day ahead, adopt an attitude of kindness and visualise yourself smiling and greeting all those you meet with an attitude of loving peacefulness.
  • As you eat breakfast and other meals, eat slowly with mindful awareness. Just for two mouthfuls, think about the food you are eating. Think about where it has come from, and that it was once in the earth or on the earth. In your minds eye, see the sunlight, the rain, the earth and the farmer and farm workers who toiled to bring you the food on your plate. Smell, taste and chew your food with awareness. Give thanks for the food you are eating.
  • Throughout the day take an opportunity to stop and listen to the sounds of nature. Feel the air, look up to the sky and the trees. Appreciate that you are intimately connected to mother earth, just as you are connected to all the stars in the night sky and planets in the universe.
  • When you meet people, take the opportunity to listen respectfully, without agreeing, disagreeing, liking or disliking, without offering your opinion (unless asked). Try to let people finish their sentence before responding. Choose your words thoughtfully and carefully.
  • Throughout the day periodically check-in with your body, perhaps on the hour. Become aware of tightness and tension in your body. See if you can breathe into the tension, letting go of tension as you exhale. See your body softening.
  • Carry out your daily activities slowly and mindfully, take time as you do so… don’t rush.
  • Have a periodic stretch throughout the day…and smile.
  • Throughout the day use any sound that appeals to you, as the bell of mindfulness, then take a few moments to become aware of your breathing and contemplate loving kindness.
  • Choose one activity each day to do with particular mindfulness; washing up, making a sandwich, baking a cake. Do it lovingly and mindfully.
  • At the end of the day before you retire to bed, sit on the edge of the bed and think about any particular moments of mindfulness. Give thanks for the day and put the day to rest.
  • As you lay in bed, allow yourself to breathe and let go, make friends with your breath. Do not try to sleep, do not concern yourself with sleep, for sleep is a passive process, just relax and breathe.
  • Smile and send soothing thoughts to your body. As you breathe you will let go.

Until next time, Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

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