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An opportunity to answer this question (What does an artificial flower have to do with world peace?) came my way this weekend. If you have been following my blog you are well aware of my interest in a peaceful world. In an effort to move towards this goal I have considered how my personal level of patience and stillness can contribute. My premise is that if I can feel a sense of patience and stillness I will be better able to receive and to extend love, compassion and kindness to myself and to others which ultimately adds to peace and away from aggression within our world.

I was presented with a unique way to focus on my intentions in a workshop I attended. The workshop leader was the epitome of stillness and calm and being in his presence was infectious. A wave of tranquility rolled over me as I listened to his wisdom. That he spoke in Japanese was irrelevant, his message was clear.

more than a flower


Now this was a three hour workshop and we would spend half of the time holding an artificial flower in our hands as we walked across the studio floor. This may sound silly or inconsequential but it was anything but. As I started my slow Butoh walk across the floor I focused on the physical action of walking slowly with soft but firm posture, a soft gaze ahead and my arms hanging freely down my side. The focus on the concrete physical aspect of the journey shifted as the walk continued. The flower took on a life of its own propelling me, albeit at a snail’s pace, across the room with intention and focus on the stillness within. This was the feeling of emptiness that the leader wanted us to experience.  Although he said that it was not something we could see I saw it clearly on the faces of the other participants. The tattooed muscular man walking towards me from across the room had tears of joy running down his face. He was not the only one feeling the joy.

In his soft spoken voice the wise man leading the group talked about the tightness in people’s bodies that he had observed here in North America and so much so in Japan. He urged us to practice our walking with the guidance of our flowers both literally and symbolically in a personal pursuit of peace. Through that personal pursuit we would then help move the world to a place of peace.

I swooned.

As I wrote in my wrap-up post at the end of 2011 I am interested in contributing to shifting our collective thinking away from greed, avarice and selfishness towards community, cooperation, sharing and relationship. I also noted that we can achieve that through personal reflection, choosing moderation, being fair and taking responsibility for our lives and our decisions and remembering that our personal choices impact other people, the environment, the future of society and the planet.

I would like to expand on these thoughts and suggest that maybe the simple act of focussing on an artificial flower as I slowly walk along will set me off on the first steps to a more peaceful world.


Irene McDermott © 2012