The Global Peace Initiative's annual "Winter Feast for the Soul" is underway as an effort to unite people of all faiths and spiritual paths. The Feast began Jan. 15 and runs through Feb. 23.

Last year, more than 10,000 people in at least 29 different countries participated in the worldwide event. The Dalai Lama has endorsed the Winter Feast for two years and Deepak Chopra has added his endorsement to the list.

"Meditating 40 minutes a day for 40 days, as done in the Winter Feast for the Soul won't just further one's conscious evolution. Humanity will be at peace when enough individuals choose to make peace a part of their spiritual practice." Chopra said.

The premise for the Winter Feast is that when people spend a block of time each day focusing inward they will discover there a source of inner peace. That peace, if shared by enough people will spread around the world. The group's stated goals are:

· To create an annual worldwide period of spiritual practice for people of all faiths to come together in prayer and meditation.

· To support people around the world in finding inner peace in their lives through the creation of a daily spiritual practice.

· To recognize that every person and every group is entitled to their own form of expression of these goals and is encouraged to practice them without discrimination.

· To work toward a global consciousness of peace.

Founder Valerie Skonie of Hailey, Idaho, predicts that "a shift in our global consciousness will occur if enough people join us. That kind of shift translates into a new world order that includes wisdom and compassion for all beings."

Spiritual practice can be defined as prayer, meditation, reading sacred texts, yoga, martial arts, and expressive arts.

"We even had a woman who committed to singing for 40 minutes a day last year," Skonie said.

She points to the stories of Noah, Elijah, Moses, Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed. Each spent 40 days in retreat or contemplation. When these prophets returned from their inner journey, they had changed, and, in turn, their world had changed.

"Now it is our turn to participate in this shift and not to look to our spiritual leaders to do it for us," Skonie said.

To contact organizers of local events as part of Winter Feast, call Suellen Miller, Inner Journey Center for Spiritual Living, at 330-4116.

For more information about the Winter Feast for the Soul, visit www.winterfeastforthesoul.com. The group's DVD is "Winter Feast for the Soul 2010" and is available online on the group's Web site and on YouTube.

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