October 06, 2005

The concept of Peace post-conflict

Mental health trauma after years of war is naturally extensively studied in public health. But even living in Cambodia for many months now hasn’t dawned understanding on me of the ravages of the Khmer Rouge period until I took meditation courses with some Khmers.

The most popular meditation techniques, usually associated with spiritual activity, are of Eastern origin ie. martial arts and yoga. The premise of meditation is to gain insight or focus, by relaxing the body and calming and focusing the mind. It’s a skill that allows positive energy to be summoned at will.

And one of the methods used for clearing the mind is to recall a feeling of peace. I can easily recall such moments: standing on top of a mountain and looking out over the hills... standing on a beach with the waves crashing on the sand... blue skies... I take this for granted. But to the others in the class, this “peace” was not a familiar emotion. They couldn't grasp the concept. How can you explain peace to someone...?

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