Eddie Stern picked an auspicious date to begin his Asthanga Yoga New York blog: a year ago, on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. He reflects on the past 12 months today:
But what is peace, exactly? Peace is not an idea, it is not something that by wishing, or even praying for, will occur. We can see by looking at the lives of Dr. King, and of Gandhi, that peace is hard work; it is a major struggle, it requires absolute commitment, faith and sacrifice – and even then, the results of the work can be tragic.
In the Yoga Sutras, when Patanjali describes ahimsa, or, non-violence, he does not say precisely what we should do to practice non-violence, he only says what will happen if we become established in it: those who come in our presence will relinquish enmity. That is the test of our ahimsa – do people who are hostile become peaceful in our presence? Can we turn an angry situation to a peaceful resolution based on the strength of our inner calm, that has been cultivated through mindful behavior, through years of breathing in a smooth and even manner? We have opportunities to do this almost every day in our own lives, in our practice, and in our interpersonal relationships. If we each work on ourselves, and our small circles of relations, it will be enough to have a larger, collective impact.
Stern touches here on something I struggle with in the “practice” in its larger, off the mat, not just asana sense. What else does it mean? What impact does it have? What do small actions, or non-actions, of mine add up to, if anything?
I also don’t know near enough to understand how and why we should take our practice “into the world,” as the phrase goes. Hopefully I’m getting there. (A different path of the “practice, practice and all is coming.”) This section from Patanjali is one I need to hold more closely and remember more readily.
So thanks to Stern for posting it and for his blogging over the past year. I find it a great, albeit little, window into him.
It’s also a wonderful reminder of the importance of this day.
Posted by Steve