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Be the one who changes the world

27 Dec 2015   Shanti Gowans

U.S. Navy Admiral Bill McRaven, in a commencement speech given to his alma mater, the University of Texas, spoke of many principles, including the necessity of making your bed each day, judging others by the size of their heart, the value of  hard work and never giving up, but this wonderful story of hope was special

The ninth week of training is referred to as “Hell Week.” It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and one special day at the Mud Flats. The Mud Flats are area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slue’s, a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.

It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors. As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some “egregious infraction of the rules” was ordered into the mud.

The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit - just five men, and we could get out of the oppressive cold.

Looking around the mud flat it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over eight hours till the sun came up, eight more hours of bone chilling cold. The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything, and then, one voice began to echo through the night, one voice raised in song. 

The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm. One voice became two and two became three and before long everyone in the class was singing. We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well.

The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing, but the singing persisted. And somehow, the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away - and a terrific example of the power of hope.

If there is one thing I want you to take with you from this story, it is the power of hope. Hope is the difference between sickness and health, poverty and wealth, joy and depression, life and death. If you want to change the world, start singing even when you’re up to your neck in mud. Look for the light in the midst of the darkness. Be joyful, not because of your circumstances, but in spite of them. Be the person who influences and encourages others. Be the one who changes the world!


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About Shantiji

Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.

Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography

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