We are afraid of outer attack, but the real brutal attacks come from within. Where do we find more violence than what we do to ourselves in the hidden corners of our mind where abusive thoughts run on automatic replay? We are caught up in a cultural myth of self-lack that is keeping us in a whirlwind of noise, agitation, tension, and high stimulation. This is true around us and within us. We live in a violent culture and a violated body. Yoga practices that cultivate stillness, rest, and silence are vital to restoring peace in the spaces within us and around us. So I see this restraint from what builds tension physically, emotionally, and mentally, as an essential first step.
As we are able to relax into the internal and external spaces of our lives, we need to look at our fears and restrain ourselves from hiding, denying, or running away from these fears. Violence in all its grossest and more subtle forms can be traced back to fear. I am grateful to the strength of yoga in the west and to the myriad of writers who are supporting us to be vulnerable, to love ourselves, and to assist us with these disturbances.
So the self-work is immense, but it is not the whole picture. We currently live in a time where there is a war on life itself. To hide in denial or feelings of being overwhelmed and helpless or to escape into secondary pleasures…we need to restrain from taking any of these easy roads out. Yogic texts are complete with bloody battles that were waged on behalf of justice. In the most famous battle, Krishna guides the fainthearted Arjuna to fulfill his duty to restore justice, even though the death toll will be immense. These texts stand as fruit for our contemplation; non-violence is not always pretty.