The Blog

BE THE CHANGE: 7 Women Who Are Transforming The World From The Inside Out

Change has to start within ourselves; we cannot expect the world to change if we do not.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

You must be the
change you want to see in the world,
as Mahatma Gandhi so eloquently
said. In other words, change has to start within ourselves; we cannot expect
the world to change if we do not. Instead of focusing on the problems, we can
start to live the solutions.

If we want more love in our lives, we must become more loving; if we
genuinely want to end terrorism and to bring real and peaceful change to the
world, then we have to change from being concerned with our own needs to
reaching out and helping each other. As Ed often says, when we make peace with
ourselves, there is one less person suffering.

For kindness and compassion to become a natural expression of who we
are, we may need help, guidance, and support. Meditation in its many forms is
the one method we have found that does all of this. When we get to know
ourselves more deeply we discover that we are more than we thought we were,
that we have the resources, strength, and wisdom to not only make changes but
to become the change we so long for.

Today is a special day for us as our book, BE THE CHANGE, is
published (see below). And so Deb felt that this week we should highlight seven
great women in the book, women who are movers and shakers and who are deeply influenced
by the invaluable benefits of meditation. There are many other brilliant and
wonderful women who are also contributing to change in this way who are in the
book as well.

We begin with Marianne
uplifting and inspirational
speaker, and author of numerous New York
bestsellers, including The Age
of Miracles

“Einstein said that we cannot solve the problems of the world from
the level of thinking that we were at when we created them. A different level
of thinking means a different level of thinking. It does not mean just a
different kind of thinking. It does not mean a different emphasis in our
thinking. It does not mean a more loving kind of thinking. It means what he
said, a different level of thinking, and to me that is what meditation brings.

“Meditation can change the world because meditation changes us. That
is the point. It returns us to our right mind, and until there is this
evolution in consciousness, we will stay locked in a fear-based perspective in
which we continue to see ourselves as separate from each other, and in which we
continue to think that we can do something to someone else and not reap the
result ourselves.”

Seane Corn, Innovative Yoga Teacher, National Yoga Ambassador for YouthAIDS, and co-creator
of the Off the Mat and Into the World

“First yoga changed my body; then meditation changed my attitude.
Then I realized that whether my practice was fifteen minutes or four hours was
irrelevant because it was not about how yoga can change me, but how I, through
this practice, can begin to change the world. What I really felt was how dare I
not step into the world and hold that space?

“If what is happening on a global level is
representative of what is happening on the individual level and if I want to
transform what is happening globally, then I have to look within myself and see
where I am separating myself from other human beings and from the earth. Where
am I living in blame, in hate, in terrorism, in war, in any negative capacity
toward another being? For if I am not willing to clean up the fear or the
disconnect that is within myself, then I am responsible for what is happening
on a planetary level.”

Tami Simon, founder and CEO of Sounds True Publishing, a multimedia publisher
with a mission to disseminate spiritual wisdom.

“The formal practice of meditation is, for me, very important. It
serves as a truth-teller, for without it, I can easily fool myself. As a
driven-achiever kind of person, before I started meditating, I was unaware that
most of the time I was driving situations, trying to push to do more. What I
have found through the practice of meditation is that I can actually choose, at
any given moment, to lean away from that need to be pushing and to rest in the
back of myself. When I do that, I create the space for all kinds of things to
happen, and for other people to be heard, and for the whole world to actually
be heard through me, instead of living some sort of ego-driven self-centered

, Inspirational Speaker and the author
of many books, including the bestseller Minding
the Body, Mending the Mind.

“A long time ago, I came
across a definition of meditation that it comes from the root meaning ‘right
balance.’ That rang true for me because, personally, my attention is often so
fragmented, egocentric, narcissistic, or self-concerned that there isn’t a
whole lot of inner balance or alignment with what is. Rather, I am stuck in a
state of non-balance. Right balance is when my mind is not spinning out endless
movies and delusions, or maybe it still is but I am just not so attached to
believing them. Meditation is when I can watch stuff go by and the part of me
that usually interrupts and says, ‘That’s a good story, or that son of a bitch,
or I’m guilty and awful,’ that part sits back and sees it as just one more
story but without attachment to it.”

Jane Fonda, Oscar winning actress and five-time Oscar nominee, social and political activist, fitness instructor and meditator.

“There are practical
reasons for dividing everything up. It makes things easier to manage and to
solve, especially technical matters: the us and them, the either-or, the man
versus nature, mine and yours. Life is simpler to deal with. But we have
applied this fragmenting mindset to all of life so that it has become our
reality, which has led to further fragmentation and chaos and planetary
destruction. The challenge is to figure out how to deal with our day-to-day
life, while at the same time changing our mindset so that we see reality as the
unbroken wholeness of the totality of existence, an undivided, flowing movement
without borders. Meditation connects me to a great inwardness and unity, and at
the same time there is a great expansion into everything.”

Debbie Ford, founder of the Ford Institute for Integrative Coaching, and the author of the New York Times
bestseller The Dark Side of the Light

“Meditation is connecting to something bigger than myself. We
meditate to have a shift in consciousness, to take us out of the limitations of
our individual self. You know that to walk by somebody starving is to walk by
yourself. You know that to judge somebody else is to judge yourself. In this
place hope exists, possibility exists. This is where you know that we are here
to have this human experience. Meditation is a process that makes the trip not
only possible but also a little gentler.”

Gangaji, international spiritual teacher and author of You Are That and The Diamond
in Your Pocket

“I grew up in the south, so I was profoundly conditioned to be
racist. In meditation, my conditioning became more visible, but so did the
ability to discover what was behind that conditioning, which I saw was fear.
Fear is about survival. When you drop under that and experience the fear
without trying to change it, just letting it be, then it becomes still. When
you open your heart to fear, rather than trying to fight it or deny it or even
overcome it, then you find it is just energy. There is a deconstructing that
happens quite naturally of our racist and nationalist views, our gender or
religious views. Then we are left with what cannot be either deconstructed or

Next week it's the men!

What does meditation mean to you? Do you have stories of
how meditation has changed you? Do comment below. You can receive notice of our
blogs every Thursday by checking Become a
at the top.

You can order a copy of our book at: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World. It
is published THIS WEEK!! Join us for
a booksigning: Nov 3rd at the Boulder Bookstore, 1107 Pearl St., Boulder CO;
Nov 11 at Powell's, 1005 Burnside, Portland OR; Nov 13th at Barnes
&Noble, 2675 NW University Village St., Seattle WA; Nov 16 at
Barnes & Nobel, 150 East 86 St., NYC; and Nov 17
at Gasoline Alley, 250 Albany St., Springfield MA. More details at:


Ed and Deb
Shapiro’s new book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You And The World,
forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors such as
Marianne Williamson, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Beckwith,
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jane Fonda, Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, Byron Katie, Dean Ornish,
John Gray and others will be published Nov 3rd 2009 by Sterling Ethos. Deb is the
author of the award-winning book YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND. Ed and Deb are the authors of over 15
books, and lead meditation retreats and workshops. Enjoy their 3 meditation CD’s:
- Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi – Breath Awareness and
Insight; and Yoga Nidra – Inner Conscious Relaxation, available on their