As I was leaving my house on Saturday to go for a walk around the pond near my home, I spoke briefly with my landlord. He was sharing his anxiety around the upcoming elections and the “ugliness” that has become more visible in our country as a result. He and his wife were leaving town to assist with a campaign in a nearby state as it was the only constructive way they could find to deal with this anxiety. Nonetheless, they realized that regardless of who wins the election, there will still be a number of people in our country who are unhappy.
I told him about Yogananda’s Peace and Harmony Prayer and how members of Ananda have been saying this prayer to send blessings of peace and harmony into the world at this time when it is so badly needed.
As I arrived at the pond to begin my walk, I inwardly felt called to begin mentally saying the peace and harmony prayer, not just once or twice, but continuously as I walked around the 1.5 mile pond. After a few rounds of repeating the prayer, I noticed how easy it was to lose track of the number of repetitions as I was counting with my fingers, keeping them tucked into my coat pocket out of the chill. However, with further repetitions, a certain rhythm and concentration developed, allowing me to tune into both the prayer and the beauty of the sun reflecting on the autumn leaves and water around me. At one point, I felt to let go of the “Fill me with peace and harmony, peace and harmony” phrase and simply repeated, “Lord, fill this world with peace and harmony, peace and harmony,” over and over again.
As I ended my first circuit around the pond, I felt to walk around it again, continuing to mentally repeat the prayer. I began to notice a feeling of upliftment and joy welling up within me. As I looked at the hillside of trees across the pond, admiring their diverse colors reflecting in the light, I was struck by how these trees serve as a metaphor for people. These trees are all different colors, shapes, and sizes, but minus their outer display, they are still all trees, all reaching upward to the light, and so too with my human brothers and sisters. I continued to reflect on this metaphor as repeated the prayer along my walk.
This experience, and the upcoming election, has inspired me to keep repeating the prayer — as I’m walking around town, riding the subway, or standing in line at a store. Practicing the prayer in this way has become my own personal way of trying to contribute positively to the election process. I invite you to experiment with this practice in the next few days and see what you notice.