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October 28, 2009

Can Yoga Save the World?

Can yoga save the world? Two years ago, Deb and Ed Shapiro debated this question over the dinner table. It would make a good book title, they thought. Skilled practitioners and co-authors of numerous self-help books, they decided to write a book about the impact of yoga on human society. Then, a friend questioned their premise.

People in the U.S. practice Hatha Yoga and newer forms of yoga such as home yoga practice, they were reminded. In Asia, the practice of yoga is more traditional. What yoga practice did they mean? It might be confusing. So they changed the title to: Can Meditation Save the World.

Yoga, after all, is a type of moving meditation. The new title fit the direction they wanted to take the book. Then along came a famous literary agent – who represents Eckhart Tolle and others – and got them a contract with Sterling Ethos publishers of Barnes and Noble books. The title, to reach a broader, general public was changed again.

November 3rd, Be the Change, How Meditation Can Save You and the World, hits the bookstores. Because a photo of the book cover and a description of its contents is included with each blog EdandDeb write for the Huffington Post, pre-sales of the book have helped it steadily moving up the ranks of Amazon.com.

I got a sneak preview of the book last week, when I hosted the two authors at a Writer’s Table luncheon. It includes fascinating stories of how meditation has changed people’s lives, a foreword from the Dalai Lama, and one by Robert Thurman. Here’s what I learned:

I learned how Boulderite Kirsten Westby was able to find solace by sitting quietly in contemplation, as a prisoner in a Chinese jail. She and several others had snuck into Tibet just before the Beijing Olympics, and raised a flag in front of the news media calling on China to “Free Tibet.” She used a walking meditation technique later, in Africa, when crossing a foot bridge guarded by “trigger-happy” teen soldiers.  … She was carrying money to build an orphanage duct-taped to her stomach.

And I learned how Seane Corn used her yoga and meditation expertise to work with child prostitutes in LA. In telling her story, Seane also describes what it took to win their acceptance, and how the process also changed her.

The 100 stories woven together in the book describe how people from all walks of life have used the profound benefits of meditation to improve their health and wellbeing. They have used it to calm the mind, reduce stress, … awaken the heart, deepen insight.

I’ve already shared several moving stories from Be the Change with others. It reminds me, the reader, that every action we take affects everything. And when we take large actions on behalf of those in need, or the planet, our presence can create an even larger ripple effect in the world.

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