Yoga and Peace

It’s a pretty messed up world.  Terrorism’s been on my mind this week, as I’m sure it has for all of us.  Given the Russian plane, bombings in Beirut, and the terrifying tragedy in Paris last weekend, it’s no wonder.  It’s easy to feel scared and helpless.  Does yoga have anything to say about this?

I think it does.  Ahimsa is the first yama – the first part of the eight-limbed path of yoga.  Generally translated as non-violence or non-harming, it underlies all of yoga’s ethical precepts.  In the face of a terrorist attack, ahimsa may seem like an intangible, lofty idea that has nothing to do with our actual world.  But it’s not.  It’s real and more important than ever.

Creating more ahimsa and peace in our own lives can only bring more of the same into the world.  I don’t mean to sound pollyanna-ish about this, but I truly believe — as does yoga philosophy — that the energy we put into the world manifests out there, somewhere.

What can we do in this regard?  Start with ourselves.  Be gentle, loving, compassionate and accepting of ourselves, just as we would be to a dear friend.  And let that radiate outwards.  To our loved ones, to our communities, and beyond.

Think about it this way.  What if I’m wrong?  What if living a more peaceful, compassionate life has no impact on anyone outside myself and my small corner of the world?  It’s still a tremendous benefit, to me and my corner, right?  No downside, only upside.  So take a moment to contemplate how you can bring more peace into your own life.  Maybe it’s stopping (or at least starting to notice and then forgive) negative self-talk.  Maybe it’s not gossiping or saying unkind things about others.  The way you manifest this idea in your own life is up to you.  It’s, to quote Rebecca Pacheco, “doing your om thing.”