As I prepare to travel to Chiang Mai, Thailand in mid-January to attend a meditation retreat for media professionals through non-profit organisation Peace Revolution, I wanted to share some thoughts with the community.
After all, it was through the community that I actually first became aware of this unique opportunity, when it was advertised by a member some months back. (Big thank you to Jelena, I think?)
In Peace Revolution's own words, the organisation
"is creating a new 'paradigm shift' intent on redirecting and refocusing all of our personal priorities from an outward search to an inward quest designed to discover and cultivate a lasting, self-sustaining happiness. Through this, we open powerful, exciting and limitless new horizons of personal development. Through the transformation of our inner mind, each of us will consequently transform the world without! We become a living example."
Where is the relevance to media in all this? The key point I suppose, is one of responsibility and ethics. Media professionals such as each one of us, bears a degree of responsibility in our working life. What we write, record, produce, photograph, video, or even tweet, has impact - whether great or small.
When considering examples of the impact media can have on society, Rwanda always comes to my mind. In the country's devastating and bloody 1994 genocide, news media played a crucial role in inciting ethnic hatred between the Hutu and Tutsi clans.
Private radio station Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines called for a "final war" to "exterminate the cockroaches", broadcast lists of people to be killed and instructed killers on where to find them.
More recently, Wikileaks of course is blazing new trails with regards to media ethics and responsibility. With pretty much anyone now able to create and publish media online nowadays, the traditional guardians such as journalists, editors, publishers and producers are not solely responsible for the content available nowadays. However, as media boundaries blur, criticism of media ethics with regards to irresponsible coverage still surely will tar those in the industry with the same brush.
The role of 'inner peace'
For two months now, I have been following an online meditation seminar to qualify for the fellowship. Everyday I meditate for around 30 minutes and then feedback on my experience in an online diary, which is then reviewed by my 'peace coaches'.
The meditation is easy - anyone can do it. If you have never done it, it basically involves sitting really comfortably either on a chair or cross-legged, closing your eyes, and following the free audio or video guides that Peace Revolution provides. The guides are led by Buddhist monks, althought the program is secular.
The online diary sets you small tasks to do, like trying to control anger, not drinking alcohol, not gossiping, and then asks for your thoughts. These 'consciousness' challenges combined with the meditation make you reflect on your personality and what is really important to you.
You can't help but be changed by the program if you follow it. It teaches calmness, how to deal with stress at work (useful for journalists especially!), how to communicate better, appreciation of family, friends and loved ones... the list goes on. And this is how 'inner peace' becomes 'outer peace'. The change in your individual life and outlook is then translated to your work.
I'll be attending the retreat in my capacity as multimedia editor and online community manager for the European Journalism Centre, who run this forum. I would like to take a lot of ideas with me, to communicate the opinions and attitudes of the members here in the discussions with other media professionals from around the world who will also attend.
Key areas for discussion will no doubt be media responsibility and ethics - how can the media industry effect a positive change in the world through the work they do.
However, I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this concept and philosophy in general.
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