This morning, Thanksgiving morning, I was in my warm, well-heated, beautiful apartment, my loving wife at the table with me, my sweet dog resting nearby watching me, as we ate a delicious breakfast. I have much to be thankful for.
As I sat there, my thoughts went to those all over the world who are suffering. Pulling out my cell phone, I wrote an email to my friend Tanya in Kyiv, worried about her welfare. She responded right away and told me she is okay but the city is dark from the Russian bombs that fell over the past days. She plans to relocate soon. My mind also went to thoughts of those who have lost loved ones just this week in mass shootings in this country, and to those who are suffering from hunger, disease, and violence all over the world. “There must be something to do!” I thought. What?
It is possible to support charities and positive causes, and I do that. But in the face of the immense suffering in the world that all seemed so small.
Then I remembered something I heard my meditation preceptor, Swami Veda Bharati, say many times: What we can do is to resolve the conflicts within ourselves and pacify our own violence. We can be kinder, more generous, more selfless, and less enslaved by our desires.
As we work to resolve inner wars, others will feel our increasing peacefulness. When we relax our grabbing and grasping for immediate pleasure, we can give more to others. The world is composed of individuals and if any one of us does his or her part, the world will become a better place.
So, where to start? A good place would be to choose one practice from the Yamas and Niyamas, the ten yoga practices that are the foundation of the Eight-limbed Raja Yoga, and include non-violence, telling the truth, non-stealing and practicing contentment, and practice it sincerely. I believe we are all linked on the inner-plane. When one person becomes more loving, less agitated, or more at ease, it affects us all. So it is for this reason that any headway made in these practices will make a difference for the entire world.