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PEACE in Action

Passing the Practice of from One Generation to the Next


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Building a Culture of Peace
Passing the Practice of from One Generation to the Next

Can you imagine a world where every child practices peace and, upon reaching adulthood, passes this gift to the next generation? This is the vision being fulfilled by the Rasur Foundation as it trains teachers and counselors to evoke the wisdom and compassion in children through the practice of BePeace.

This practice has been spreading in schools in Costa Rica since 2004 and is now being offered to schools in the United States (U.S.). I founded the Rasur Foundation after traveling to Costa Rica in 1993 and being attracted by its national model of peace. In 2003, I founded the Academy for Peace and developed the practice of BePeace with the aim of institutionalizing this practice within Costa Rica's educational system.

In 2006, the Rasur Foundation initiated a bill for a Ministry for Peace to be integrated into the current Ministry of Justice in Costa Rica and also recommended an alliance of nonprofit organizations for peace. The bill passed in 2009 and the alliance was formed and is now coordinated by the new Ministry for Peace. This success culminated in a Summit of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments for Peace in 2009, hosted by the Costa Rican government and facilitated by the Rasur Foundation. Over 200 participants from 41 countries attended and were inspired by Costa Rica's progress in establishing a national model of peace.

In 2010, the UN University for Peace, located in Costa Rica, offered BePeace as a graduate course to 26 students from 16 countries. As a result of teaching this course, I am in dialogue with U.S. universities, such as the University of North Texas, about offering BePeace through their continuing education programs. Peacemakers Inc. in Dallas, founded in 1987 and the host of three international women's peace conferences, has adopted BePeace as its curriculum of choice for teachers, counselors, students, and parents.

With the scourge of bullying that is sweeping the U.S., there is new receptivity to approaches like BePeace, which positively impacts the entire social and emotional environment of the school. In the past, peace education has been primarily aimed at the intellect. However violence stems from reactive feelings. To shift these reactions, we must be able to efficiently and reliably redirect these feelings into a peaceful state and be able to speak in a way that prevents conflict. BePeace does just that by offering to individuals a clear "how to" for experiencing peace in real life situations. Below is a description of how and why BePeace works

BePeaceTM is a practice that combines a scientifically proven method for "feeling peace" with a clear path for "speaking peace" that creates an authentic, compassionate connection. As we learn this practice, we are empowered to pass it on, to "teach peace."

The Benefits of BePeace:

  1. Stop stress in just 60 seconds
  2. Resolve conflicts
  3. Find release from worry, anger, anxiety and depression simply and quickly
  4. Achieve your highest brain function and open up your intuition
  5. Maintain emotional balance, even in times of great turmoil and stress

BePeace is a combination of Coherence + Connection.

Method 1: Coherence

According to the Institute of HeartMath, coherence is the state when the heart, mind and emotions are in energetic alignment and cooperation. It is a state that builds resiliency - personal energy is increased and sustained, not wasted — leaving more energy to manifest intentions and harmonious outcomes.

Coherence is achieved by taking three steps:

  1. Heart Focus
  2. Heart Breathing
  3. Heart Feeling of Appreciation

Like most skills, the more we practice it, the easier it gets. Research shows that when we are in a state of incoherence from negative emotions, our heart rate variability pattern is erratic. Positive emotions create coherence, a rhythmic, even pattern. When we are coherent, we think more clearly and can more reliably tap our intuition. Since the electromagnetic field of the heart radiates up to three feet from the body, our coherence also has a positive influence on those around us.

Because the heart is the strongest biological oscillator in the body, when it generates a coherent signal, it draws the other biological oscillators into synchronization. This includes the digestive system, the respiratory system, and most importantly, the brain. When the heart is in a coherent mode, it can override the amygdala in the brain, which gets triggered by emotional memories. As an example, a person bitten by a dog when he/she was a child may have a recurring negative emotional response (fear, anger) whenever they see a dog. If they have learned to sustain coherence, over time they can extinguish this response.

Research by the Institute of HeartMath has shown that students who practice coherence before exams perform significantly better in math and reading and have an improved capability for learning.

Method 2: Connection

Human beings share universal needs. Connecting to them, within ourselves and when interacting with others, is the key to the compassionate language of empathy and honesty. This aspect of BePeace is inspired by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, who developed Nonviolent Communication (NVC). The four steps of Nonviolent Communication are:

  1. Observation — A description of what we are seeing, hearing or touching, specific to time and context, and free of judgment, criticism or analysis
  2. Feeling — A description of our emotional state, the result of a need being met or unmet (e.g. happy, sad)
  3. Need — Something we require to sustain and enrich our life. Our needs can be satisfied by accessing our inner resources or through outer strategies that also honor the needs of others. Needs are universal and do not refer to a specific person or thing (e.g. clarity, justice, to be heard, to matter).
  4. Request — Clear, positive, concrete words that request clarity, connection or a specific action in order to satisfy a need.

The Power of BePeace

The transformational power of BePeace arises from the synergy of combining coherence with connection. When we achieve heart-brain coherence, and also connect with our feelings and needs, we can respond more consciously to life; then we rise to a higher level of social and emotional intelligence. In this way, we are able to continually enrich our own lives and help create a more peaceful world.

Here are some of the results of teaching BePeace in Costa Rican schools:

Teachers reported that:

  • Aggression and violence had diminished.
  • There was less intolerance and fewer conflicts.
  • Misconduct reports decreased from 16 to 9 per month.
  • Students learned to resolve conflicts on their own.
  • The relationships among teachers and with the principal improved significantly.

Now the primary aim of Rasur Foundation International is to offer BePeace in U.S. university programs and in schools through BePeace Hubs. These hubs spring from a group of people located in the same city who have taken BePeace courses and support the transfer of BePeace into the school system in their area.

For information on courses, or initiating a hub in your area, consult the website below or write to: info@rasurinternational.org.

Resources: {Rita Marie Johnson lived in Costa Rica for 17 years and, in 2010, relocated Rasur Foundation International to Arlington, Texas to serve her own country's needs for peace. In the U.S., she has already presented BePeace Foundation Courses in Missouri, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Vermont, California, and North Carolina. In Fall 2010, 30 U.S. trainers were contracted to offer BePeace services.}

Peace

How does it feel to live in peace,
To know the calm of hate's surcease?

Who puts the yearning in the breast
Which guides the wise man's humble quest?

What master thought exudes such grace
Then disappears without a trace?

When shall we grasp Love's simple plan
And live the Golden Age of Man

Where time and space and fear are naught
and only harmony is taught?

It happens in each human soul
It's individuation's goal.

We hold the lock and key within
Which conquers anger, fear and sin.

The lock which guards the gentle heart
Bids eccentricity depart.

The key that opens wide the door
Love's light floods in, we're free once more.

Come help me now, please hold my hand,
We've harmony to teach the land.

--Linda I. Fasig
Charlestown, South Carolina

(Published in PEACE in Action, November 1987)

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