Monday, October 15, 2012

ahimsa, a perfect guideline for living a peaceful existence

Greetings Friends,

I read these words from Meredith Swim and a wave of peace washed over me. I can remember the first time I sat and talked to Meredith in our old studio space. She was thinking of embarking on yoga teacher training during her "gap year", the year between graduating from high school and starting college. I knew at this first meeting she was an old soul and over the years I've known her even better. She is wise beyond her years and simply a ray of light for the whole world. This blog post is a testament to that. I'm so glad she did choose to participate in our yoga teacher training. You can revel in one of Meredith's classes on Tuesday at 4:00 for commUnity yoga or Level 1 Flow on Tuesday at 7:15. Enjoy....

{For any readers who have not experienced "savasana", it is the final resting pose we take at the end of each yoga class. It is sweet and simple, yet has the power to move mountains.}

Savasana arrives. I loosen my ponytail and surrender to the mat for the long awaited relaxation. I listen to the soft movement of blankets and props as my fellow yogi neighbors prepare to unwind. Soon silence follows and a calm descends over the tree house. I soak in this moment of stillness. There’s the occasional sound of outside traffic, which pulls me to wonder about the potential world peace power behind this five-minute savasana.

The amount of violence squeezed onto the front page of the newspaper or chocked into a media soundbite provokes feelings of helplessness and frustration, but I also feel this overwhelming desire to combat the violence with peace. Yoga philosophy provides a perfect guideline to living a peaceful existence on and off the mat through the first yama, ahimsa.
Translated to mean non-violence, ahimsa urges yogis to practice non-violence in your physical actions, and also, in your thoughts, intentions, and words. When I hear about the violence raging in parts of the world, or the random acts of cruelty in my own backyard, I can easily separate myself from these actions by proclaiming myself a physically non-violent person.
I don’t swing punches, but my words, I’ve discovered, can wage nuclear warfare on others and myself. A coffee date with a friend can quickly turn gossipy and browsing through facebook can spark numerous catty remarks. Most often, these judgments reflect my own personal struggles, but it’s easier to project my issues onto others, especially that questionable profile picture, than to look into the mirror and deal with them myself.
This is where yoga downdogs in. Flowing through a vinyasa is a therapy session. I tune into my body, my heart, and spiritual space to realize the root behind those unkind words and the true reasons behind that emotional outburst. The answer is often that I’m not taking care of my needs, and if not taking care of my needs, I’m not the ultimate peaceful person I wish to be for my family, friends, community, the world.
Guilt quickly appears after these inner realizations. Guilt forces me to repeat the unkind words, the emotional breakdown, and wants me to feel awful, but here, ahimsa arrives and saves the day. In a loving voice, ahimsa cautions me not to judge, not to be violent in my thoughts toward myself. “You’re Human,” the voice soothes (a voice very similar to the talented Rachel Weisz). “Forgive, Love, Learn and Move On.”

Practicing ahimsa on the yoga mat is easy. One of favorite aspects of ahimsa is a bit more gritty.  Ahimsa requires us, as global citizens, to take action. If harm is being done, ahimsa provokes us to speak up, and defend. Say a dog is growling at a toddler who is pulling his tail, then Ahimsa in action is taking the toddler away from the dog, preventing harm for both the child and the dog. This a small example.
There are bigger battles on the world stage. Meditation and self-reflections guide us to discover our truths, and from a center of good intentions, we can participate for the good of our community and the world.
Breathing in the stillness of savasana, I feel my inner self, a self that is pure peace awakening and glowing, like a candle flame in the dark. I direct my savsana calm to my words, thoughts, and actions. I imagine my surrounding yogis discovering their inner peaceful light and letting it shine in the hustle and bustle of life, the warmth carrying over to friends, family, neighbors or strangers sharing the grocery line.
Peace starts small. Ahimsa begins with breathing instead of judging. And as long as there are savasanas, I believe there is hope for peace in the world.

1 comment:

Amanda @ Click. The Good News said...

This is really beautiful- I enjoyed reading it & she is a lovely writer. I'm thoroughly enjoying learning more about the other limbs of yoga beyond just asanas.