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Peace Walk Spreads Message With Silence
Posted by Semhar Debessai on Jan 29, 2006, 22:18

SANTA MONICA– The word of peace was spread all along Santa Monica last Sunday, Jan. 22, at the second Peace Walk organized by Peace is Every Step (PES).=


PES is a group inspired by the philosophies of Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, who led the first Peace Walk in Los Angeles this past October. The Peace Walk was a demonstration unlike any other as participants practiced Mindful Peace Walking, which involved no talking, but a deep awareness of each step and one’s interaction with the surrounding environment.


Steven Vincent, an organizer of the event, remembered attending the October Peace Walk and being moved by Hanh’s goal to bring people together by committing to consciously live for peace, and reaching out to others to do the same.


Vincent took on that task as he and members of PES organized their first Peace Walk that took place on Dec. 18, 2005 in Long Beach City. While the first Walk was a special event, the second one last Sunday produced twice the number of attendees as the first, with a count of about 120 people.


Participants walked the few miles from Reed Park to Arlington West at a very calm and unhurried pace, bowing and smiling to onlookers along the way. This act was “in acknowledgement” of those around them, Vincent explained, showing that they were there without intention of disrupting or instilling fear, but to be an example of peace and peaceful thinking.

Photo by Wendi Kaminski


Some onlookers accepted leaflets about the Walk graciously, while others just “jumped in,” said Vincent.


Not all spectators were as willing to let the Peace Walk go by as the name intended, however. Victoria Burner, a participant in last Sunday’s walk, recalls one driver attempting to make a left turn blaring his horn at participants walking slowly across the street. But the Peace Walkers never faltered in their commitment to be, as Vincent described it, “mindful and patient” as they traveled through the city.


“We live in an age where everything is frantic,” said Burner. “Buddhists have another answer to serenity...how to be in the world and not destroyed by it.”


The philosophies of Buddhism and Hahn, the inspiration behind such “mindful” thinking, continue to gain widespread acceptance in Western society.


Vincent, who teaches as a yoga instructor at Angel City Yoga in Studio city, incorporates this type of meditative walking in his classes. Burner has participated in these classes, but had never experienced it as a form of outreach to others.


“It was intriguing to see the different reactions of people,” Burner recalled. “It occurred to me how much people really needed this.”

The Peace Walks will occur every third Sunday of the month at various locations, the next one scheduled for Feb. 19 in Pasadena. For more information, log on to www.peaceiseverystep.net.


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