School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: July 2007
Mass Meditations for the Planet

by Peter Brown
Did you hear about 'Fire the Grid'?  I suspect most of us did, and quite a few of us participated.  How many of us stopped to consider if it was a good idea?


I chose not to participate in the one hour fire-the-grid meditation on Tuesday 17th July.  I chose to write this instead at (roughly) the same time.  When I first heard about it, I was sceptical.  It just seemed too new agey to be worth much to me; but then I do tend to be over-dismissive of anything leaning that way.

By the time I'd got the third or fourth email about it, from people I know, love and respect - I decided it was worth a little more investigation than simply to dismiss it out of hand.  Partly because I thought there might be something different about this one.  Partly because I questioned whether my scepticism was more about laziness.  But also out of guilt... and that's where it gets interesting for me.


So I visited the fire-the-grid website and read up on it all, watched some of Shelley Yate's talks on You Tube.  Her story is truly remarkable, and well worth a look if you haven't already.  And it almost convinced me in that she seemed to be saying what I judge to be 'the right things'.  So it was all about connection with the earth (ok, I can go with that), about knowing your gift/bliss and putting it to good use (sounds fine to me); she didn't seem to be overly dualistic, there was space in Shelley's conceptions for the bigger picture too.  All of which I found reassuring.  So yes, maybe there was something different, maybe this one might be worth doing after all.  Maybe I could dance for an hour, though frankly I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have been to the music Shelley recommended.  I've never been one for 'spiritual purity' in music, as no doubt anyone who comes to my classes would testify... 


However, I decided to take it a little further, and google critiques of the proposed meditation.  What I found was interesting, and set me off on this particular journey.  By far the most entertaining critique came from a website based on 'reverse speaking'.  Apparently, if you played Shelley's spoken words backwords (sound familiar this one?), you would find the truth, that the beings who had instructed Shelley to get us to 'fire the grid' were actually aliens who use the grid to imprison us... highly entertaining.  A new age update on the old story about heavy metal records played backwards revealing devil worship.


But there were other, much more interesting critiques too.  The one that caught my attention was concerned with the potential effect of directing a large amount of energy into the core of the earth.  I wasn't exactly sure this was what Shelley was suggesting; but I could see how her words could be interpreted that way.  The critique was very simple.  If you send a large amount of energy into an already unstable, chaotic system, the net effect is not likely to be peaceful - rather it's likely to accelerate and amplify the processes already underway, with highly unpredictable results.  In other words, it might accelerate the global climactic conditions that threaten us, rather than reduce them.


Once again, this isn't necessarily to contradict Shelley's message.  She also referred to 2012 in her writings, a suggestion that the fire-the-grid event wasn't expected to produce some immediate and final effect, but was part of a whole series leading up to whatever is supposed to happen in 2012.  Within that view, firing more energy into changes already taking place might well be a way to accelerate us towards 2012.  If you buy into that particular story.


But that guilt was still niggling me regardless... what's that all about?  Some of the critiques spoke of how these kind of 'campaigns' play on our good intentions and our guilt.  They essentially say, 'if you're a caring human being, if you are sensible/evolved/intelligent/prayerful (put in whatever word hooks you), then you will want to do this -after all, what harm could it do?'  (well, if it's potentially as powerful as Shelley suggests, it could surely do a great deal of harm if not done right, yes?)  That kind of appeal does get to me, as it gets to most of us - it's there in all those chain-emails that come round, usually with some genuinely beautiful story or piece of wisdom, but ending with 'send this to x number of people within y minutes and you'll get your wish/good luck...'  Some of them go on to promise dire consequences if you don't - they all imply it, whether it's stated or not.  


The point is, these things play on our sense of guilt and hopelessness.  We don't believe we can make a difference.  Until recently, I lived a total contradiction around this stuff - on the one hand I conscientiously try to recycle as much as possible, not fly, use green alternatives to mainstream products... but I also know that my lifestyle, though in some ways relatively 'green' is still essentially unsustainable in the long-term.  So I have this mix of a green conscience that gets me to recycle even the smallest peices of paper (probably using more energy than is saved) combined with the knowledge that it's not enough, that basically I don't let that green conscience stop me doing or buying anything I really want.  This allows me to feel morally superior to others on the one hand (smug), and also be wracked with guilt on the other.   Not particularly useful to anyone really.  Of course, this mechanism can apply to all kinds of things (and of course has historically been tied into the confessional); but I suspect most of us have it in relation to environmental issues these days.


It was a conversation with Ya'Acov recently that gave me the key to this one (again!) - do it out of love.  Out of love for Grandmother Earth and Grandfather Sky.  Make each little thing an offering, a gift of love.  That's where our true power lies.  That's what lies below the surface for me - that's what leads me to do the 'green' things I do, even though I know that in themselves they're going to save no-one.  I do it out of love.  Love for the beauty of this world.  Gratitude for what we still have, gratitude that I can even dance, in relative peace and safety, if only for now.


Whatever Shelley's intention (and she does say that this must be done out of love, not out of guilt), the way this has been sent around has fed into that mechanism of guilt vs virtue.  The virtuous being those who give their hour to prayer/meditation of course.  But far more worrying in a sense is the lack of clarity.  There does not seem to be a clear, single intention around this.  The messages I have received from different people telling me about this event have all worded it differently.  For some, it's about 'healing the planet'.  For others it's about 'world peace'.  For others, it's about directing energy into the earth's core.  Does it matter?  I think it does, vitally.  Our practice teaches us that our energy does indeed follow our attention.  'Healing the planet' for instance, from the point of view of Gaia, could involved wiping out those pesky humans who seem to be messing it all up for the rest of life on earth.  'World peace' - well whose peace exactly?  Hitler wanted peace, just as long as he and his Reich were in control.  Bush wants peace, as long as it's on his terms.  The planet would be very peaceful if human beings were removed.  Oh sure, maybe we're sophisticated enough to know the difference, to know what we mean by 'world peace':  but my point is that everyone will have their own understanding of what it means, according to their own world-view.  A Christian (or Islamic) fundamentalist will not have the same understanding of 'world peace' as will a rational atheistic scientist, or a postmodern peace activist or a renowned spiritual teacher.  We understand things from where we're each at on our own journey.  


So sending something out in this way, inevitably works to undo what may begin as a very clear, focussed intention.  Each recipient will interpret it according to their own world view, their own perspective, and consequently focus their meditations on very different things.  Many may participate from the dynamic of guilt/virtue, rather than love, which is another way of subverting what appears to be a clear intention.


So this is where it left me.  Very unconvinced at best that this would do anything positive for the human race.  Slightly concerned that it could do something disastrous (it's now 13.17 on Tuesday 17th July, and nothing cataclysmic seems to happened... yet!).  Clear that it's not a good idea to allow myself to be manipulated by my own guilt and fear.  But also with the knowledge that this stuff is central to my life, that I'm more interested in continuing on my own journey of focussing on the details of my daily life through my practice, becoming a more balanced and responsible human being, one who seeks to act with more kindness and love in his daily interactions.  Seeking to integrate his personal actions with the bigger picture.  And often falling short, and having to forgive himself.


I am afraid.  I am so afraid about what is going to become of, yes, firstly me, but also my loved ones, my children, my friends, all of us, the whole of what we know in this beautiful world.  Being frozen in that fear makes me much more vulnerable in a sense than letting it move in me, letting it fire my grid, into feeling, into compassion, into love.  Being stuck in there makes me much more likely to take on board anything anyone suggests will help ' heal the planet', after all, what harm could it do... So, on this occasion, this is my offering of love. No doubt these words fall short in some ways; but I feel like this is the most useful, most loving thing I could have done with this hour, particulary as I'm sitting in a hospital bed right now.





I was just a boy when I sat down to watch the news on the tv

I saw some ordinary slaughter I saw some routine atrocity

My father said don't look away, you got to be strong, you've got to be bold now

He said that in the end it is beauty that is going to save the world now

and she moves among the sparrows

and shes floats up on the breeze

she moves among the flowers

she moves something deep inside of me


Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Nature Boy



Peter Brown

all i can do is dance



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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.