To be at peace in the world we must be at peace within ourselves.
In recognition of Yoga Day U.S.A. on Saturday, January 21, Engaging Peace offers some reflections on yoga as a means for discovering and cultivating inner peace.
The Sanskrit word for peace is “shanti.” Many students of yoga are familiar with the phrase “Om shanti, shanti, shanti” as a blessing for peace.
Another word for shanti is equilibrium, as in mental balance. When we feel at peace, we are in balance, and have a sense of equanimity. It’s easy to forgive others and to let go of our own ego-driven desires when we are in balance.
As athletes, martial artists, and yogis know, to be in balance is to be in a position of strength. Inner peace is not weakness; it is a source of resilient energy.
The practice of yoga promotes contentment, or “santosha.” Would we see so many wars around the world if nations and societies experienced contentment? No, war is fueled by discontent–greed, hunger for power and resources, and fear.
Peace and contentment arise from a willingness to respect others and to live with humility. The greeting and closing used in many yoga classes is “namaste,” which means “I bow to you,” or “I honor the light within you.”
Would war’s acts of violence and inhumanity even be possible if warriors honored the light within their opponents?
Let us all find ways to cultivate peace within ourselves. Yoga is but one path for doing so. Find the path that works for you, and enjoy a life of serenity, balance, and contentment.
Then share your sense of peace with others so that it may grow throughout the world.
Om shanti, shanti, shanti. Peace, peace, peace.
Pat Daniel, Managing Editor of Engaging Peace and Kripalu Yoga Teacher