MAPS Ambassador, Pam Bryan, Finding Peace

This Volunteer Stepped Out of Her Comfort Zone and Found Peace

By Volunteer MAPS Ambassador Pam Bryan

The Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS) opened a new chapter in my life and has taught me more about the world, courage, compassion, and myself than I could have imagined.

My journey to MAPS began in 2011 when I returned to Edmonton, Canada after several years living a rural lifestyle near Sarlat-la-Canéda, France. I was shocked to see the big cars and trucks, the huge houses and the wasteful lifestyle—the same lifestyle I had once lived with gusto. I soon realized that my time in France living closer to nature and buying food from the farmer down the road, had changed me. My eyes opened and my heart tuned in to the inherent interconnection between all beings on Earth and the Earth herself.

At the same time, I began to feel a growing alarm about the state of the Earth and the crisis caused by human choices. In response, I became vegan, switched to organic, and began taking public transit. By 2016, I was a keyboard activist, signing and sharing petitions, but never stepped out of my comfort zone or dared to believe I was capable of more. There was a stirring in my heart, yet I continued to ignore it.

Then, Vandana Ryder, an initial member of Parvati.org, reached out to me on social media regarding a comment about protecting the Arctic Ocean for the sake of all life, and everything changed. I messaged with this stranger from Vancouver, and then messaged some more. Much to my surprise, and despite my responsibilities at home, within weeks I was asking how I could help Parvati.org progress towards the realization of MAPS.

As I learned more about Parvati’s trip to the Arctic and the audacious move to write the MAPS Treaty and take it to COP21, I felt a strong need to commit more of my time and life to MAPS. I had no idea how great the rewards would be.

Certainly it has been a challenging path, as I’ve taken on tasks and a workload I never imagined I could handle. From phoning environment ministers twelve time zones away to troubleshooting technology, and even writing this article, it has all been a stretch. But I have always been supported by my fellow Parvati.org team members as well as a greater power, one I had only glimpsed before, but one that is now part of my life; I ask it each day for support to make the best choices and have the courage to act.

Through taking on outreach tasks, help with Parvati Magazine, and membership in the Yogis Unite for MAPS team, I have met people from every continent who are committed to creating a better, more integrated world, to making decisions informed by the interconnection and interdependence of all life. From business executives developing less wasteful and damaging supply chains to African farmers seeking better ways to provide food in drought conditions, I am a witness to a paradigm shift. More and more people are recognizing that the path toward a healthy planet starts with peace and compassion within our own hearts and is then expressed through personal choice and courageous action. Knowing the depth, size and strength of this community gives me great hope for our shared future, something I did not have before MAPS.

MAPS fundamentally changes how we live together on Earth, where we protect each other, and all life. It is an effective response that unites world leaders in committing to long-term collective good over short-term individual gain.

The greatest gift MAPS has given me is a deep peace, recognizing the beauty of the dance of interconnection. I feel this peace more and more in my own choices, in the very essence of MAPS, and in the hearts and work of so many other teammates around the world. I watch amazed as many life-long beliefs which caused me stress simply fall away as irrelevant. While I am still clearly a work in progress, I am growing more comfortable in my own skin. I experience daily the joy of working within the global MAPS community, seeking and finding better ways to live lightly upon the Earth.