News / Toronto

Maya Tiwari: Former high-flying fashion designer reflects on finding inner peace

When one hears of a peace tour, several images may come to mind: youthful and aging hippies, sit-ins, concerts, talks on war and mediation, and how to get the planet’s good guys to change the bad ones’ ways.

Then there’s The Living Ahimsa World Peace Tour travelling across Canada, which begins Thursday in Toronto and takes a Gandhian approach to peace—looking within to change oneself first. Or, as Maya Tiwari, a former vedic monk and organizer of her (second) Canadian peace tour explains: “Learning how to treat oneself with ahimsa, or non-violence.”

Starting with an honouring of women peace builders, such as the renowned Sister Elaine MacInnes who teaches meditation to prisoners, the Toronto leg of the tour also includes a full-day workshop on Ayruvedic teachings of healing, a workshop on how to create peace within, and an evening talk on discovering true love, with ahimsa being central to each.

“If we can develop that awareness on a daily basis, moment to moment, imagine what will happen to the configuration of peace around us,” Tiwari excitedly says.

“We don’t have to be a yoga practitioner, Hindu, Jain, or a follower of Gandhi to follow ahimsa.”

Learning ahimsa and how to focus within, both spiritually and nutritionally, was something Tiwari, author of Ayurveda: A Life of Balance and many other bestselling Ayruvedic books, learned the hard way.

In 1975, she was a renowned 23-year-old, New-York-based fashion designer, travelling the world, her high-end clothing line worn by the likes of Jackie Onassis, and carried by Eaton's, Harrods, Saks Fifth Avenue and many more.

Then, ovarian cancer struck. With a diagnosis of six months to live, she retreated to a cabin in the Vermont woods, returned to her Indian ancestors’ Ayruvedic roots, and employed herbs, nutrition, meditation, chanting and yoga to heal herself both physically and spiritually.

The result was not only her complete recovery, but her abandoning of the fashion world to design the first Ayruvedic school in North America: The Wise Earth School of Ayruveda, born from her new, compelling vision to help others.

Now, in her second world peace tour across Canada, she’s expounding on the ancient wisdom she’s learned about creating the ultimate peace.

“We can accomplish peace inside of us. TODAY. Each one of us. We have the capacity,” explains Tiwari. “We’ve crossed over into the time—whether we call it Kali Yuga or whether it has changed into another Yuga, where another mass consciousness is extremely possible and even inevitable.”

This she will also talk about after her tour in Vancouver, when she returns to Toronto August 3, to be a keynote speaker for Deepak Chopra’s week-long Global Meditation Event of the Year.