Running for Peace and Harmony – Reflections and the Future (Part 1)

The beginnings – 2004, 2006 & 2008

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I became a student of a spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy back in 2004 and I have been practising meditation[1] for the past 11 years with the Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centres.  And in that year I was introduced to the World Harmony Run. Little did I know it but it was something that was going to become an important aspect of my life. I would experience some of the most joyous and happiest moments in my life.

Sri Chinmoy

Sri Chinmoy

The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run (previously known as the World Harmony Run between 2005 and 2013), founded by the spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy (http://www.peacerun.org/srichinmoy/) is a global relay that seeks to promote international friendship and understanding. Since its inception in 1987 the Run has traversed over 140 nations and touched the lives of millions of people. The Peace Run does not seek to raise money or highlight any political cause, but simply strives to create goodwill among peoples of all nations.

“The World Harmony Run carries this dream: through running we can unite people in the whole world.” – Tegla Loroupe

“When I carried the flaming torch, I felt so much oneness with all the people of the world. Each participant in the World Harmony Run will show that the hopes and dreams of man are more enduring than his fears. And the trials on the road to world-harmony are no greater than the courage of those who accept the challenge.” – Carl Lewis

 “Sport has incredible potential to promote peace and harmony in the world. Sport is a language that everyone can speak. It is not about the colour of your skin, your religion, your wealth, your disability – it is about being the best you can be. It is a wonderful foundation for life and for creating harmony in the world.” – Katrina Webb, Australian Paralympics Champion

Every two years continuous routes are organised in Europe, Africa, North America, Asia and Australasia in which teams of relay runners carry a flaming Peace Torch. By passing the torch from one person to the next, the relay offers people from many nations the opportunity to express their hopes and dreams for a better, brighter future. People from all walks of life hold the symbolic torch to wish for a peaceful world. Passing the torch from one person to the next unites us together in our common aspiration to offer something positive to our world – together we can make a difference!

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In 2006 I embarked on an amazing 6 month journey with the European leg of the World Harmony Run that was to take me through 30 countries and leave me with such wonderful memories that they will stay with me forever.  As I reflect on what only can be said as the time of my life I cannot help but smile and feel a loving sense of joy and happiness.  My words cannot truly convey fully my experiences as what I write seems inadequate on the myriad of images swimming in my mind and how many people touched my heart.

Brothers in arms with the mayor of Grocka, Serbia 2006

Brothers in arms with the mayor of Grocka, Serbia 2006

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Varvarin, Serbia - I was so grateful and moved by this young girl’s speech

Varvarin, Serbia 2006 – I was so grateful and moved by this young girl’s speech 

“Each step the runners make brings people and countries closer. Cultural and any other differences diminish in the power of their wish for a better world for all of us. The runners carry the torch of peace, understanding and love from country to country. Its flame warms up the hearts of all people who see it. The whole world could be one happy family. So, we should seek harmony and international peace. We should not be separated, we should erase borders. Imagine a world where love rules, where people smile and laugh! It isn’t impossible! But you must do your part in it! Let’s strengthen international friendship!” 

Having fun!

Having fun!

On the Peace Run you have so much fun, but at the same time there is an appreciation of how much work each individual has to contribute to the whole team to make the Run function day to day.  People often comment that the running must be the hardest part – how to keep running up to 20-30 km a day, every day.  But I feel that the running generally is the easiest part.  What people don’t see are the stamina, discipline and resilience that runners need to keep going on the road under generally demanding and challenging conditions.  There is sleeping in a different place every night, having no personal space, and there is always something that needs to be done – whether cleaning the vehicles, washing your kit, writing the daily report for the website, sorting out the food provisions, and after all these evening chores, to fit in some much needed rest.  But for me, all this is what makes the experience so special.  It’s good to have routines and each new runner that joins generally adapts to a World Harmony Run body clock – long, exhausting, but very happy days, with blissful sleep at the end of each day.

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Team dynamics are rather an interesting part of the Run.  The common thread that links us altogether is our aspiration for oneness and harmony and how each runner can help create this in the whole family.  It is this sense of oneness that is created within the Team.  It is not always harmony within the Team, but you find that you learn as much about oneself as about other people.

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The World Harmony Run is in a constant state of flux and has an energy and momentum all of its own.  The World Harmony Run runners do not make the World Harmony Run, but all those people that we meet and those that hold the torch and all those children that so joyfully run with us – they make the World Harmony Run what it is.

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Icelandic school children join together to hold the torch

Icelandic school children join together to hold the torch

All their wishes for a more harmonious world that they place into the flame are carried on to the next village, town, city, country and the whole of Europe and the World.  As a member of the international team I felt such gratitude to be given this opportunity to meet so many people.  For a fleeting moment the World Harmony Run torch touches peoples’ lives, but their heartfelt goodness, their smiles of young and old and express sincerity for harmony, joy and oneness remains for eternity.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland 2006

Blue Lagoon, Iceland 2006

Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossom. Oslo, Norway 2006

Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossom. Oslo, Norway 2006

Closing Ceremony, World Harmony Run at British Museum London 2006

Closing Ceremony, World Harmony Run at British Museum London 2006

If you can create harmony
In your own life,
This harmony will enter
Into the vast world  

– Sri Chinmoy

[1] Running and meditation will be a forthcoming article.

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