It is 7:30 in the morning in Oslo. A strong wind and an intensive sun reflected on the white granite and Italian Carrara marble walls invade the roof of the Opera House. Energy concentrates in one space where a group of people practises Taijiquan thanks to Pamela Hiley. During the spring and summer months she teaches citizens an hour at the roof of the Opera House for free contributing to project peace into the city.
‘Well, it is my kind of corporate social responsibility to the city’, explains Pamela. She is already an institution in Oslo. She founded Norsk Taiji Senter the first Taiji centre in Norway over 35 years ago, located not far from the Opera House. She is one of Europe’s most experienced Taiji teachers and certainly the first professional Taiji teacher in Norway.
Ten years ago when the Opera House emerged as part of the harbour rehabilitation in Oslo, Pamela thought that a former public space where she was training Taiji would disappear. ‘However, it turns out that the city built a much better space for me’, she says enthusiastically.
An opera house has never been so appealing to people outside its walls. The roof of the building angles to ground level, creating a large plaza that invites pedestrians to walk up and enjoy the sea views while seducing others to a very early morning Taiji training.
There is a close relationship between neuroscience and architecture. In fact, neuroscientists and psychologists are now working together with architects and designers to understand how and why spaces, from city sidewalks to buildings, have such strong psychological impact on people.
If neuroscience could affect urban planning then cities may be designed in a way where spaces affect the way people think and feel, urban life may be revolutionised and have a profound psychological impact on citizens.
Developing spiritual awareness like teaching Taiji at places with strong cognitive impact in people could foster a more peaceful environment in cities. According to Taiji principles, Inner Peace leads to Outer Peace.
People mainly practice Taiji for its health benefits. You will improve your posture, so that the energy can circulate more fluently through your body. After a period of intensive training, you will notice that your body and mind are more relaxed and that your stability improves.
Organizations like Happy City founded by the writer and urban specialist Charles Montgomery use the science of wellbeing to create healthier, happier and more inclusive communities; places in cities that are better for everyone.
Taiji is about finding the stillness in the movement.
‘Training of mental and physical presence has a great positive effect on our state of health and a sense of satisfaction and happiness. Meditation has been practiced by monks for thousands of years as a means of achieving greater inner peace. Encouraging a peaceful life for people is about maintaining peace in connection with the other. It creates more harmony to one another and it encourages a deeper dialogue in a bigger community’, explains Pamela.
As an extension of her work with Taijiquan, Pamela has started many groundbreaking projects in Norway. In 2001, she founded the Peace Point Foundation and participated in the Global Peace Initiative of Female Religious and Spiritual Leaders’ Conference at the UN in Geneva. In 2003, she initiated the “Building Trust Peace Conference for the Middle East” at the Nobel Institute in Oslo. In 2004, she founded The Business Council for Peace at the Nobel Institute, in 2006 the Youth Council for Peace and in 2007 MAP (Martial Arts for Peace).
Pamela Hiley has been recognized for her international peace work and has been honoured with the title “Ambassador for Peace” from the Universal Peace Federation, and in 2006 her outstanding work in Norway was recognized as one of the Top 10 International Men & Women in Norway.
During the past 10 years Pamela has also developed a deep dialogue with the Beijing Friendship Association in China meeting daoists and Taiji Masters. This has spawned in-depth exchange programs between Norway and China which are rooted in the nature based philosophy of dao nurturing more cultural understanding for the global community.
Her initiative at the roof of the Opera House she calls Seeds of Silence, its philosophy is to plant peaceful seeds both within the body and the environment simultaneously cultivating spiritual awareness in citizens that projects peace into the city. Since 70% of the population will live in cities by 2050, her initiative is a very innovative approach towards more peaceful cities that could bring about peace to the entire world.