Exploring Wisdom: Are You Committing Violence?
I have recently become aware that I have been committing violence. Yes, me. Violence.
But wait a minute…I am the most un-violent person I know. I love peace. I am a meditation teacher. I TEACH peace. Power to the peaceful! It wasn’t until I read the words of Thomas Merton that I realized the truth:
“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow one’s self to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit one’s self to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”
How about you?
Life is perfect… or is it?
I’m one of those people who fails to recognize my own stress. Life is perfect, life is good. I have no complaints. It’s only in retrospect that I realize that, yes, maybe I have been stressed and too busy. Maybe there is a reason that I haven’t been sleeping, that I’m tired a lot and that I can’t seem to shake that extra twenty pounds I’m carrying around. And maybe that reason is that I’m stressed. Hmmm. Maybe.
The violence we commit against ourselves
Recently I got sick. A virus. Knocked me on my butt for ten days. I never get sick. But boy, I was sick. For over a week I couldn’t do anything but sleep. And the world didn’t come to an end. The contrast to my normal life of busyness was eye opening. For the past several years, I have worked full time, started a new part-time business, volunteered for a non-profit that I’m terribly passionate about, checked off several projects on an unending list of projects on my fixer-upper 100-year old house, taken care of two wonderful furry family members who depend on me for their happiness, tried to spend some time with family and friends, created a new website, worked on a teaching certification…and on and on and on, while trying to finally clean that area between the stove and the cabinet and get some laundry done.
I’m not feeling sorry for myself. I can’t begin to imagine how those of you who add to that typical list by taking care of children or aging parents, or working three jobs do it. My point here is that too many of us are too busy. And we are creating violence. Serious violence towards ourselves. I hear it from my massage therapy clients daily. Overworked. No time for play. Too many responsibilities. No time for me. What are we doing all this for anyway?
But what if we find a way to take a break?
Learning to create peace
The world went on, as it does, while I was sick. Thank you, virus, for teaching me that I can…and need to…let go of a few things in order to create some time for just “being”. A capable, wonderful person can blossom by taking my place on my non-profit board for a while. I can teach one meditation class a week instead of filling my schedule with workshops and retreats on top of running a full-time massage therapy business. I can say “no, thanks” when I would rather stay home than go out with friends. They’re learning to understand my need for solitude.
Creating some “time” in my life is taking care of me. It is creating peace. Waking up without an agenda on my day off is a heavenly thing that I didn’t have for many years. Letting go is creating space. Space for more being. Space for reflection and awareness. Space for noticing the beauty of my blooming garden. For being present. For creating more peace.
Violence is not just an outward creation
As my fantasy boyfriend, Henry David Thoreau, said about just sitting in his doorway from sunrise til noon, rapt in a reverie…”I grew in those seasons, like corn in the night; and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance”. Hank gets me. We would have been great together.
So what I know is this. When we create our own peace, we contribute to a peaceful world. We don’t do this by creating violence of ANY kind. Violence is not just an outward creation. We often and ever so subtly commit violence towards our self. Peace comes from awareness. And awareness feels a lot like stillness. I’ll be having more of that.
Denise Lyon is a mind and body healer, a soul-centered seeker, and believes that to create a peaceful and happy world, we start with creating our own peace and happiness. Denise is a dedicated meditator, a Certified Meditation & Mindfulness Instructor and a graduate of McLean Meditation Institute in Sedona, AZ. Her heart’s desire is to provide a path anchored in ancient wisdom and modern neuroscience to help guide us to that place of living together in peace and possibility.
Are you new to meditation? Join Denise for her introductory Meditation and Mindfulness retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center from August 24th to August 26th.
This article first appeared on Elephant Journal, and is reposted with permission from the author.
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The Practice: 5 Yoga Poses to Calm Your Mind
In today’s world, where people are prone to stress, anxiety, and depression, it’s more important than ever to search for ways to relax your mind. Relationships, work, school, and/or financial worries all take a toll on our bodies and minds, and yoga can be a welcome break from the pressures of everyday life. According to one study, a regular yoga practice may help you fight stress, anxiety, and depression. While yoga overall is very useful for calming the mind, we’ve selected five poses, which, when practiced mindfully, can make a big difference in your overall stress levels.
This pose stretches your lower back and hips, which can be very relaxing and help decrease fatigue. To try out this pose, first sit on your heels, leaving a gap between your thighs. Then, extend your upper body on the floor, your midsection resting between your thighs, and your arms fully extended on the floor. Take several long, deep breaths in this position. This position can be held for up to five minutes, or longer if you wish.
This pose is challenging, but it’s very effective at the same time. It enhances your energy level and mood, and strengthens your back. For the cobra pose, lie face down, position your palms on the floor shoulder width apart. Keep your lower body and pelvis grounded at all times, then inhale and lift your chest off the floor, while your lower body stays in place. Keep your attention on lifting from your core, rather than simply resting on your arms. You can hold the pose for a number of long, deep breaths, then let your body rest on the floor as you exhale.
There are three warrior poses. Warrior II Pose is a simple yoga pose, which can help release stress and tension. When doing this pose, let yourself be reminded of your inner strength and ability to stand strong against the challenges of life.
This is a cool yoga pose, and it’s not only for dancers. Anyone can implement this pose into their yoga routine. It’s a beautiful pose that symbolizes grace and elegance. You can do this pose with a light and happy feeling, as though you were a dancer. Not only can it release stress, but it also opens up the chest.
This is a very effective pose, but it’s not an easy pose to try. Although it takes some time to master the crow pose, you will be proud of yourself when you finally get the hang of it. This pose can enhance your focus, strength, and concentration. When doing this pose, let the mind be happy and calm. In Sanskrit, this state of mind is called prasanna chetana, a pleasant, relaxed awareness. Having a strong mind can also help you overcome the symptoms of depression.
Mental and emotional health is just as important as physical health. When ignored, stress can affect our physical well-being, as well as our mental peace. Making yoga a regular part of your life can help you manage stress and lower the risk of stress-related health problems.
Sophie Addison is a blogger and skincare expert, and is passionate about sharing her knowledge. She has written about everything from wrinkles to joint pain treatment, weight loss, and fitness news. She loves to garden and listen to music. Contact Sophie on Facebook or Pinterest.
Interested in learning more about the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!