Meditators Apply Practice to Improve Quality of Life in Charlotte


CHARLOTTE, NC June 14, 2013 - They trained themselves and taught others to meditate for peace as if their neighborhood depended on it, and it does. For four weeks this past April, Lawrence Toliver, a Science of Mind practitioner and founding board member of Peace Centers International, a hybrid social franchise organization, helped bring together a variety of meditation instructors to train a special coalition of some 40 meditators for peace, which he calls The Meditation for Peace in Charlotte. “Our aim is to use meditation to reduce crime and violence in our community, to refine the technique, and show other community groups how to do the same thing,” says Toliver.


Lawrence with bell

Lawrence Toliver begins the peace meditations

with a bell chime


Lawrence Toliver is an organizer, a teacher, and a spiritual leader in his own right. Mostly he is a true believer that what the mind can believe, it can achieve. What he believes right now is that any focused group of people setting an intention of peace can use that collective intention to improve the quality of life in their communities. Like a scientist he is setting out to prove his theory, setting up and documenting his procedures, measuring his results and if successful, publishing them for others to follow.


The Truth is, Peace is present wherever God is present. Therefore, Peace is present everywhere. So Peace is already here. Peace is also within every person." says Lawrence. "A lot of people have focused their peace initiatives on going out there and 'creating some peace.'  Humans do not create peace. We embody it." That is an important distinction we need to make. 

What Lawrence Toliver is suggesting is that every essential, vital process of Life manifests itself peacefully. "Whatever life form you choose to contemplate, whether botanical, animal, viral or bacterial, its life forces manifest peacefully. Everywhere life is, Peace is."

"While we all have the seeds of peace in us, Lawrence continues, "it doesn’t just fall down from the sky fully grown. We are cultivating a wider path for it to take root and grow.” The first stage in The Meditation for Peace in Charlotte was training people in four different meditation traditions on how to embrace a consciousness of peace and radiate it beyond the walls of the host organization, Unity of Charlotte.


“This isn’t really anything new,” says Lawrence. “This has been documented in several other studies for a couple decades, as described in the book Permanent Peace by Robert Oates, which really was the inspiration for this entire initiative. I disagree with the TM-ers that theirs is the only meditation method that will effectively improve the quality of life in communities.”


Many theories exist on the purpose of meditation. Lawrence believes that "Meditation is the way we align ourselves with God. As we tune our consciousness to God Consciousness, we permit more of God to flow into, through and out of our own consciousness. When multiple instruments are in tune with each other, they amplify that which flows through their instruments. As instruments of peace, we amplify the Peace of God."


Lawrence Toliver

"Just think," he says with a smile that would warm any heart, "a committed group of meditators could chose to amplify any quality of God they set their minds to: Life, Love, Light, Power, Peace, Beauty, Joy, Health, Prosperity - whatever they thought best served the needs of the community. What we envision in the future is communities coming to us, asking us to meditate to bring about specific qualities that would uplift the area."  



The first results of the impact of the group's work based on the police crime statistics for the month of May are very encouraging. "I’m sure we are only partially responsible, yet the data are firm. We contributed to a major reduction (30.3%) in criminal incidents in the neighborhoods surrounding Unity of Charlotte," says Lawrence. According to the crime mapping Webpages for Charlotte, there were 88 incidents of crime during May 2012; in May 2013, there were 58 incidents reported.


Of the 26 types of crime committed, only two types experienced an increase: marijuana possession went up from one incident to two; and vandalism went up from nine incidents to eleven. Everything else went down or remained the same. For example, "hit and runs" declined from six to two; auto thefts declined from six to one; and aggravated assaults declined from 15 to eight.


As Lawrence encouraged his group of meditators last Tuesday when these statistics were first shared, "Gratitude is in order! Remember that gratitude acts as a magnet; we attract more of what we are grateful for."


See article that appeared in the Charlotte Observer about Lawrence and The Meditation for Peace in Charlotte.


Long Term Impact


The feedback from participants and spiritual leadership supporting this community endeavor have been overwhelmingly positive. Robyn Codrington, a participant in the Inagural Peace Meditation wrote, “Thank you Lawrence. It was a wonderful meditation. I hope we were radiating peace but I also feel we will get better at it as time goes by.”


Rev. Nancy Ennis says, “Lawrence is indeed awesome! After the second week of meditating together for peace, I find myself more peaceful than I have been for a long while. The dedication and commitment Lawrence has brought to the meditation for peace is what has made the difference. He has developed a model that can be shared with groups all over the world – a model that can bring peace.”


 charlotte map

Rev. Nancy Ennis continues, “The impact the Meditation for Peace in Charlotte has had on our spiritual community is the awareness of peace and the realization we can be the ones that bring peace to the world. I know the impact of our Tuesday night meditation for peace will be far reaching.”


Debbie George, meditation instructor, says, "My thoughts are around inviting neighborhood teens and specifically the troubled ones and trouble makers to learn about peace making.  The esteemed meditation teacher, Jack Kornfield has done this specifically bringing kids who are gang members together with soldiers suffering with PTSD and he holds trainings etc.


Debbie George continues, "I think it is a wonderful initiative and I hope we see tangible positive results that can be duplicated elsewhere! Since your intentions are deeply sincere and carefully considered. I don't see how you can go wrong.  


I have appreciated Lawrence Toliver's strong leadership!  He is the person for this job!" 



Testimonial for Guided Meditation

What an amazing experience! I just wanted to share a few unfoldings for me as a remote participant to this wonder-filled meditation movement.

· I did as was suggested - created a quiet safe and sacred space where I was undisturbed.

· I lit a white candle

· Set my intention for 'Peace'

· Closed my eyes and focused on my breathing

My mind wandered and I allowed it to do so. Then gently, my mind began to settle. My breath became calm. I could feel my heart slow and anxiety leave. Slowly, I began saying the word, 'peace' without any specific verbal direction [i.e. for me, family, world, etc]. Just one word 'peace'. Soon it was not necessary to whisper the word. I found myself in the center of the candle flame at peace. The message I received was to 'be the peace you desire to experience'.

As I continued to be still [allowing thoughts to simply float by], I felt the most peaceful I have felt in a long time. I felt myself on the 'grid' of the world's atmosphere. In the places where the grid crossed, I simply placed my hand on the cross section and thought the word peace. An absolutely amazing thing happened. The grid illuminated with a bright green glow and spread all around the world. My heart filled with so much Joy! Wanting to make sure what I had experienced was 'real', I repeated the process.

Every time I placed my hand on a cross section, it illuminated even brighter. I was exchanging so much Joy and Love in this process that I did not want to stop. But then something amazing, again, happened. A very still but direct voice said, "Enough." I released my hand, placed it over my heart, and returned to the room, body and self. I had set my alarm for 1 minute after 8 pm so I would have some indication of 'time'. I opened my eyes at exactly 1 minute after 8 pm.

I have been operating from and in the center of peace for that moment on.

Amazing! Absolutely amazing!

- Saundra Porter Thomas

The impact of the Charlotte Meditation for Peace project may be longer term than first realized. Pam Turner, instructor from Natural Path Meditation, believes that “some of the most important results of our efforts will not be scientifically measurable.  The timeframe of the soul (ours and the others we include in our prayer/ meditation) is eternal.  I firmly believe that the work yields results in the future which may be and hopefully will be greater than whatever we may see in short term.”

Sharon Salzberg one of the founders of Insight Meditation speaks often of The Landscape of Kindness (see also her book The Kindness Handbook, 2008) which includes an interesting definition of compassion. Compassion is understanding that the pain and unrest that is in front of you is not the end of the story. Lawrence Toliver and the Charlotte Meditation for Peace initiative knows this first hand. “No matter how long it takes, we see a peace-filled Charlotte. Being able to do this gets us out of our shock and paralysis at the news and opens us up to the greater possibilities of experiencing peace and inspired action now.”


About the Peace Meditations


On May 7th, Toliver organized the inaugural Meditation for Peace in Charlotte at Unity. The Unity of Charlotte sanctuary had just experienced a makeover—the entire pulpit area was transformed with an original floor to ceiling landscape painting. One candle was lit and the rest of the lighting was dimmed. Rev Nancy Ennis and Unity congregants were joined by Rev Claire Middleton and members of the Centers for Spiritual Living - COLORS, both using their newly learned skills. Approximately 20 meditators participated that first night.


Lawrence led two guided peace meditation sessions that first evening. Debbie George, the meditation instructor of the Buddhist Mindfulness tradition and Pam Turner, an instructor of the Sahaj Marg Natural Path tradition also participated.



What is a guided peace meditation? Read the guided meditations here.

On May 14th, the second Meditation for Peace program consisted of two 20 minute sessions of silent peace meditations, with meditation music and yoga before and after each session. We taught silent meditation because it is in the silence that we can truly hear Spirit's guidance and direction," says Toliver.


Instructor Pam Turner, Natural Path Meditation,, says, "I am grateful to add my energy to the effort. In my practice, we pray daily for the community and the world to be filled with love and devotion and growing in faith. I appreciate the work you are doing on behalf of Peace Centers International."



What is a silent meditation?

6:50-7:00 Prelude (Meditation Music)

7:00-7:02 Silent Prayer

7:02-7:22 Silent Meditation for Peace

7:22-7:32 Break, Stretching or Yoga

7:32-7:35 Meditation Music

7:35-7:55 Silent Meditation for Peace

7:55-8:00 Announcements and Group Matters

8:00 Adjournment

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