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  • Nan Cole

Is Peace Passé?

Updated: Apr 19, 2019


This week, I invited students to develop an inner contemplation around their relationship to peace. Inner peace gets all the hype in the yoga room. Sometimes we hear teachers talking about dedicating the practice to someone: maybe a loved one, or a friend, or someone who needs good vibes sent their way. Rarely, do we talk about peace within our community, service work for those in need, and I can’t remember a time when I heard the yoga room discuss world peace.


Peace is important.

Peace starts within our hearts. It’s a feeling, a thought, a word, and a deed. If we can’t talk about peace in the yoga room, where can we talk about it? Is peace too politicized? Is peace too grandiose, too lofty? Should we surrender our peaceful intentions to a more ‘pragmatic endeavor’?


As a kid in the 80’s growing up in Berkeley, California, peace felt passé. The prospective I was raised around was that peace was hopeless and weak. I believed people took advantage of individuals calling for it, or corporations corrupted it to call it their own and sell more stuff selling our world’s peacekeeper's slogans. I grew up with a great admiration for militant groups, like the Panthers and Malcolm X that believed in self-defense as an alternative to non-violence. I grew up around violence during the crack epidemic in Oakland, California and developed a hardened heart.


Divisions in my mind were created. There were victims and wrongdoers. Passive acceptance felt unjust. War in my heart confirmed a broader worldview that normalized violence.

Norms are important.

Some of the outrageous world events within the 2000’s erupted a fury within me. That fury enraged me enough to look for something else: to leave my norms and find places to live that I believed were upholding values I could support. Unfortunately, my worldview followed me wherever I went. It took a huge amount of effort and introspection for me to even consider that I held aggression and that aggression manifested outwardly.


“Anger originates in our own hearts, not on the battlefield.”

– Pema Chödron


De-escalating the war in my mind is an endeavor I contemplate in my yoga practice. Yoga has been a useful method for self-discovery and cultivation of my own well-being. It does not stop there.


Thoughts are important.

Peaceful thoughts, and a tender heart resonate beyond just yourself. I teach because I want people to have hot bodies. Not really. I teach yoga to offer some of the tools I’ve gathered to help soften the heart and spread loving kindness.


May you be filled with loving-kindness.

May you be safe from inner and outer danger.

May you be well in body and mind.

May you be at ease and happy.


Namaste.

Nan

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