A journey, not a destination
CPLP Talks 7 – Inner Peace in Times of Crisis06/09/2021
One year after the devastating explosion in Beirut, we meet Zeinab Dilati (also known as Zee) who took part in the Caux Peace and Leadership Programme in 2017, 2018 and 2019 as a participant, practitioner and faculty member. Zee, who comes from Lebanon and Ivory Coast, speaks to us from Beirut.
Tell us about the current situation in Lebanon.
Honestly, things are not getting any better. The situation is getting worse and worse with such basic needs as electricity, medication, transport and essential products not being attainable. I miss normal life. When you walk around in the city, you see that people are depressed. Most have lost hope and are settling for anything. We are getting used to standing in line for long hours at the gas station or at the bakery. Why is this being normalized? The explosion was the beginning of many troubles. Things have fallen apart and we’ve been spiralling ever since.
This sounds really tough. How are you navigating the crisis personally?
I feel tired on many levels. I don’t sleep well, because we are experiencing power cuts during heatwaves. Consequently, I am not being as productive as I could be at work. I also feel a bit detached from everything: I used to visit my family in the South of Lebanon every weekend. Lately, I have not been able to do this as often because transport is so difficult now. Mentally, I feel in a black hole, as if I am stuck. All my dreams, plans and ambitions seem unattainable at the moment. How are we supposed to chase our dreams if our worry is ‘Can I even get to my workplace today?’
Amidst all this chaos, are you able to find some kind of inner peace? What are the things that bring you peace?
Last week, we had a 36-hour power cut. We were in the dark, couldn’t charge our phones, and had to throw away all the food in the fridge. My partner and I lit candles and did art, as there was nothing else to do. At one point, we looked at each other and realized that this was kind of romantic! It was a nice moment that helped lift my spirits.
On a daily basis, I cope with the crisis through meditation, breathing techniques and trying to get as much sleep as I can. I am also practising Quiet Time. I have had some deep and meaningful quiet times in the past month and it felt amazing. On another hand, watching sitcoms also helps a lot. They take my mind off things and make me laugh. It’s always important to laugh!
I am having to be consistent with these practices because even when I feel hopeful or inspired, it does not take long for reality to hit back. It is so difficult to stay positive and have inner peace while going through this crisis. I also ask myself: can we ever actually reach inner peace? I feel that it is more of a journey than a destination; and I am walking on that journey.
Are there any experiences from your time at Caux that help you keep at peace?
I remember a conversation with Rainer Gude at Caux. I shared how I am afraid of making decisions when I do not know what is next for me. He said something that stuck with me. He showed me that the Zee of today is walking on the journey of life. She wants to reach a certain destination. In order to do so, she can walk the short easy path; but sometimes things happen which mean that she has to take a longer, more difficult path. This does not mean that she will not reach the destination she had in mind at the beginning. Now I see that rough roads can give you a better taste of accomplishment and build you as a person.
Do you have any reflections or lessons you have learned on inner peace in troubled times?
I have learned to try to do my best, to be in the present, to take care of myself and make sure that I am in good shape because only then can I get out and help others. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Reaching inner peace in this crisis situation means devoting much more time and effort to ourselves and spreading that peace afterwards.
Zeinab Dilati, aka Zee, is a feminist activist, a psychosocial support worker and a mentor. She has been part of the CPLP faculty team for the past two years. She considers Caux as one of the best places in the world to provide a safe space for people from different backgrounds to share, listen and eventually understand and learn more about each other. She believes that the key to becoming a great leader is empathy and taking the initiative whether on a personal level or in the world around us.
If you want to listen to and engage with young people from around the world sharing their experiences on Inner Peace in Times of Crisis, join us our next Caux Peace and Leadership Programme Talks on Saturday, 18 September 2021 at 1:00 pm GMT.
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