Peace in the Park
This week I have had the great fortune to participate in ‘Peace in the Park’, the festival of spirit held annually at the Global Retreat Centre, Oxford England. With around three hundred events happening over 3 days, this festival is created with a big heart to bring a little more compassion, peace and love into the world. Whether aged 5 or 95, the event had the capacity to touch and inspire each and every person who walked through the gates.
The festival was organised by the Brahma Kumaris, and since its inception four years ago has been growing in both size and innovation. The idea itself is quite novel: an event open to all and free of charge which embodies the spirit of sharing, fun, knowledge and inspiration. It offers a space where people and families can simply be themselves, can relax, play, explore, have fun, listen and learn, enjoy, eat and experience without any commercial aspect but simply for the purpose of being together and nurturing the best in one another.
Imagine an ‘outdoor meditation lounge’ overlooking the cathedral-like trees and the snaking River Thames. Bask in the beautiful warm surroundings as you are showered with cool and insightful thoughts and ideas. Uplift your spirit as you listen to inspirational lyrics and melodious music. Experience ‘Big Love’ in the big arena. Balance mind and body at the qigong practice by the Japanese gardens. Revere your spirit as you listen to the sitar in the ancient chapel. Make a wish after making your own windcatcher with twigs, string, moss, leaves, bark and some wild imagination. Have tea with the Teddy bears and visit the house of the seven dwarfs, but beware – the big bad wolf is living next door!
Every element of the festival has a spiritual component. Take, for example, face painting. Children were asked: ‘What do you want to be today?’ And ‘How are you feeling?’ And after their thoughtful responses, the face painter would paint a corresponding image on their face. In this way children were encouraged to get in touch with their feelings.
Adults too had a huge buffet of seminars and talks to select from, which were dotted around various locations throughout the grounds. After a laughter workshop upon entry, people were encouraged to visit the ‘Feel Good Heartspace’ where inspirational ideas were shared such as; How to care for the self when feeling low, Three ways of overcoming energy thieves (fatigue), and 100% self-acceptance. The ‘Emergency Optimist’ was also on hand to give a consultation to those who needed a ‘spiritual prescription’!
Creative artists such as authors, musicians and painters not only shared their talents, but were also interviewed, revealing the secrets of their success and what motivates them to do what they do.
On a few occasions, the good old British weather showed some of its less attractive aspects, yet people’s faces were bright, smiley, eager and enthusiastic. Nothing could dampen the deep sense of appreciation and willingness to learn and listen.
It was interesting to note that despite the fact that 9000 people walked through the grounds during the course of the three days, there was not a scrap of litter to be seen. It just goes to show that when you respect something, others will too.
As I picked up my free tea and biscuits from the Retreat Centre Tea Tent, the note on the packet of biscuits read, ‘made and shared with love’. This perhaps sums up the whole festival experience. When something is done with love and shared without any motivation for monetary gain, then the energy is astounding.
An event like this reminds us that we all belong to each other and need each other. When we see the current state of the world and the fear and violence that appears to be so pervasive, then we instinctively feel that it is now the time to come back to our truth and to remember that we are all part of one unlimited family of humanity. It’s time to go beyond prejudice, race and religion, beyond expectations and personal gain, and time to collectively create communities of greatness.
The human race can only thrive when each one of us uplifts our vision for ourselves and each other. Perhaps this is what some of the participants wished for as they sat on the beautiful ‘wishing throne’. Or perhaps they heeded the other important request to ‘Look into the Magic Mirror and remind yourself to live happily ever after.’