Ahimsa Now. I just spent 100 days exploring violence, its patterns, its causes and the tools for avoiding it. (For background, see “The Roots of ‘Ahimsa Now: 100 Days of Intention’” at the bottom of this post.)
What rings true in all of my observations and experiences – when someone is in pain, that person is likely to inflict pain on others. This is on my mind today, as I consider the news from Aurora, Colorado. What pains a man so deeply that he must kill? I am always saddened not only for the victims of violence, but also for those who commit such harm.
I grieve over the profound presence of pain and the cycle of hurting others in our world.
How can I – one breath, one thought, one action, one day at a time – observe, address, process and decrease my own pain in order to decrease the cycle of violence? How can I modify my actions and interactions to aim high, and to cultivate kindness, acceptance, tolerance, understanding, compassion, love? This is tough, deep and challenging work. Ask any of my very kind, accepting, tolerant, understanding, compassionate, loving friends who have been the recipients of my overreactions when I am triggered into great fear or pain.
I am not trying to be “perfect,” but I do feel responsible for my behavior. And although often weary from the work, I am committed to discovering and using the tools and practices to cultivate a less reactive, more peaceful Holly.
Once I have those tools and practices in place – and try to use them with the humanness of fallibility, honesty, humility and forgiveness – how can I help decrease, process and decrease the pain of those around me? Can I influence family, friends, neighbors or strangers?
I can only start by using yoga and other tools that nourish my own inner peace. By committing to these practices. Never skipping them. It’s just too essential. When I feel peaceful, I share that peace with those around me. As I maintain accountability for feeding a cycle of peace, that energy inevitably vibrates outward.
I believe that one breath, one thought, one action, one day and one person at a time, this violent world will be touched. Pain will diminish. And acts of violence will no longer occupy our hearts, minds, lives.
OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
* * *
The Roots of “Ahimsa Now: 100 Days of Intention”
“Ahimsa” is a Sanskrit word meaning, “Avoidance of Violence.” It is mentioned in many ancient texts, including the Yoga Sutras, a collection of aphorisms handed down by yogic sage Patanjali approximately 5- to 7-thousand years ago. In the Sutras, Ahimsa is one of the “Yama” – five recommended abstentions, or rules of conduct rooted in abstinence. The five Yama comprise the first limb of Patanjali’s prescribed Eight Limbs of Yoga.
Avoidance of something takes great effort. And if violence were not naturally inherent in human beings, we wouldn’t have to try to avoid it. So, dreaming of launching “Ahimsa Now” – a nonprofit whose mission is rooted in Ahimsa – my responsibility is to come to understand the human impulse toward violence, and, to explore every available practice that impedes that impulse.
So from April 5 through July 13, 2012, I committed to a 100-day exploration of Ahimsa. And after July 13th, I will continue to share my series of “Peace Tools” – practices for cultivating dependable inner peace and living with accountability. Thanks for coming along. OM Shanti Shanti Shanti.