On that sweltering hot day of August 28th, 1963, Americans gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to hear the social revolutionary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sing to the hearts of the world the song of his dream of racial equality. Even though racism isn't completely erased in America, who would have even dared to imagine that 45 years later we would be inaugurating our nation's first African American president?
Dr. King knew of the imperative for nonviolence as did his Open Heart Great SAlt Lakepredecessor of peace, Mahatma Gandhi. The principle of nonviolent revolutions and nonviolent living parallels the ancient yogic principle of nonviolence, Ahimsa. The ancient yoga scholar, Patanjali, lists Ahimsa as the first step toward finding Samadhi, our highest self. Yoga teaches that to truly know one's self, one must also extend this knowledge out to all others. Consider the idea of not only personal Samadhi but a Samadhi of community or collective.
Open Heart Great SAlt Lake If, as we learn from yoga, we originate from the same source, call it God, Universe, Creation, then to hate or harm someone else is ultimately to harm ourselves. This self infliction is therefore the autoimmunity of humanity, the failure of one part of the organism to recognize itself and therefore to fight against it.
But Ahimsa goes deeper than learning not to throw punches. The gate into the temple of peace is nonviolence; however, the true lesson of Ahimsa is to honestly and deeply love each other, even when your brother or sister holds radically different ideals, morals, or opinions than you. When the power of our conviction meets the peace of our compassion, we can sit together as brothers and sisters and build lasting solutions to differences and problems. These solutions last because they are built from the most durable and fundamental element common to all of us-- love. Dr. King said, "Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him."
Ahimsa also means not harming YOU. Remember, you are a part of the universe and deserve to be here, to be happy, and to have abundance. I believe you cannot truly love someone else until you honestly love yourself. You deserve the pleasure of peace. I believe that Dr. King and Gandhi would both agree with this idea.
Let's practice peace in yoga this week. One of my teachers quotes her teacher who said, "Yoga is one of the most compassionate things we can do for others because suddenly we are not such a pain in the a## to be around anymore."
Please remember our brothers and sisters in Haiti. Meditate and pray for them. If you have the means, please contribute to one of their relief funds. One of the ways some organizations are collecting donations is through text message. You can text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to American Red Cross relief for Haiti, charged to your cell phone bill.