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Non-Violence -A World Filled with Peace

Updated: Mar 10

As I begin my training to become a yoga teacher, I am learning more deeply what non-violence really means.  We are all aware that we should treat others the way we would like to be treated, and that we should not say or do things that may cause them harm or suffering to others.  We learn this a very young age from our parents, our teachers, and our community.  But what about non-violence to our own selves, the one we create inside our mind?

Most everyone, who I become in contact, has a difficult time being kind, loving, compassionate, and forgiving to themselves.  I was never taught to be nice to myself, but I was taught to be nice to others, and no one ever said to love and forgive myself and to treat myself with love and compassion.  I learned that concept much later in life, on my own. According to Marianne Williamson in her book A Return to Love, she describes our mind as vicious because it repeats the bad or wrong things we did, or others did to us, over and over again with no mercy.  Our brains appear to be wired to worry and to fear many aspects of our lives.  The main reason our brains do this is related to survival.  Our brains’ main job is to keep us alive.  Our mind, on the other hand, can become aware of this and not let the brain run wild with fears and worries.  Some fears are reasonable, like looking on both sides of the road before crossing it because we could be run over by a car and be killed.  This is a reasonable fear; it has to do with survival.  But scaring ourselves about losing our job or our health are not reasonable fears because that is not putting our lives in immediate danger, and the worrying itself makes things worse for us.

Yoga teaches us a way of life with more awareness, of not only our body but also our thoughts.  One of the first ethical disciplines we learn in yoga is non-violence.  Deborah Adele in her book The Yamas and Niyamas -Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice discusses how “when we feel hurried, afraid, powerless, out of balance, we may find ourselves, speaking words of unkindness or even exploding with a violent outburst.  As our awareness of these nuances grows, we learn that our ability to be non-violent to others is directly related to our ability to be non-violent within ourselves.”  This invited me to pay more attention to what kind of thoughts are swimming through my mind.  The good news is that you can change your thoughts when you are aware of them.

In reading Adele’s book, I also learned that thinking we know what is better for others can become a subtle way we do violence.  As a mother, a teacher, a therapist, and a life coach, I must be very attentive to not fall into this.  We have to trust that others know what is best for them, and that they will find their own path. The older I get, the easier it becomes. It takes a lot of practice.  It is not easy.  She adds that there is nothing to fix or save in another; there is only the gift of listening.  “People need a safe place to hear themselves.  Worrying is another way violence gets masked as caring.”

I am committed to contribute to world peace by focusing on managing -or not creating- my own fears inside my head and helping others do the same.  For example, by trusting that my loved ones will be fine, and that they are being divinely guided, I am discerning between a real fear and made up fear.

People ask me how do I manage to deal with the suffering and hurting of the people I work with, and my response is by taking care of my inner world first.  That space within, meaning my mind and my heart, has to be loving, caring and compassionate toward me first, and from there, I can help others.

A world filled with love, compassion, and peace can begin with you.  You are not in charge of world peace, but you are in charge of your own inner peace.  By becoming more aware of your thoughts and giving yourself permission to be kind, loving, compassionate, and forgiving toward yourself, you can give the same to others.

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