This winter solstice issue of Alternatives marks the completion of an annual publishing cycle which began with the spring equinox. During our passage through this intangible territory of the past year, our spirits have thrived—both the good spirits of laughter, plus those timeless immortal spiritual essences that defy descriptive language. We have had enormous fun and have been on the receiving end of more good will than we can take advantage of. At the end of this strange “business cycle,” the lingering sensation is one of inspiration.
This issue evolved its theme of meditation quite effortlessly. Winter is traditionally a time of introspection—new year resolutions, bundling up, snuggling in, contemplating the year past and the one beginning. It seems true that people across all the social classes and economic levels, from way straight to hip unconventional, are drawn inevitably toward contemplative activity this time of year. Witness the throngs of people at Toys R Us contemplating which plastic toy to buy for their child. But that’s not what we really mean.
Meditation is culturally antithetical to the capitalist system, yet so many of us who live out our lives within this culture-of-doing are drawn to meditation as a way to peace and profound personal insight. As the cycles of information and thought assume greater velocity, the contemplative arts may be our last remaining refuge for authentic sanity. Michael Courtney, one of our authors, suggests practicing meditation as a way to relieve daily stress. Fred Mills pushes the point further, positing that meditation is not only an effective maintenance activity for personal balance, but also facilitates virturally miraculous repair work for life’s past wounds and conditioned mind. Catherine Ingram directs us to that place of knowing, where beliefs fall away, revealing our true nature. And Grace, a poet and international healer based in Mount Shasta, tells us “There is a great emptiness . . . and in this world we seek a thousand ways to fill it.” But she admonishes us to recognize that “the distractions are in themselves a greater emptiness.” Face it, she says, and “you will have touched, at last, the root of all suffering. And only then can we understand what it is that we must heal.”
What is it that we are trying to heal? Ourselves, certainly. But there’s more to it. We have noted the millions of people advocating the end of landmines recently. This upwelling of mass sentiment is about nothing less than healing the web of life and our relationships in it. The politicians and joint chiefs don’t seem to get it yet, but . . . maybe with your voice and ours, we can nudge the process. May we suggest placing a call to the White House? 1-202-456-1111 will put you through. Tell Bill to think with his heart on this one, and do the right thing. We did, and it felt good.
Speaking of feeling good, Alternatives, together with the Whidbey Institute, is co-sponsoring a special conference for teens on the weekend of March 20-22. See our back cover for details, and pass the word to potential participants.
Blessings through this winter passage.