Yoga with Melissa 174: Desensitized to Violence

by Melissa West on April 20, 2013

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Ahimsa (Nonviolence) a 45 Minute Hatha Yoga Practice Yoga with Melissa Cultural Conditioning Series e

Cultural Conditioning is the social process in which authority figures such as parents, professors, politicians, religious leaders, peers, and the media define our cultural values, beliefs, ethical systems, and ultimately the way we perceive ourselves in the world. This past week on Monday April 15 two explosions occurred near the finish line at the Boston Marathon about four hours after the start of the race. Three people were killed, and more than 170 were wounded.

When events like this happen in our own backyard, many of us are shaken to our core. The media perpetuates the original act of violence by playing the images of violence over and over again, numbing us into fear, making us feel like helpless victims of violence. Yet we consume a steady diet of violence as entertainment through movies, books, television, video games and information news channels. We think we are not personally impacted; that our homes are not affected by the violence we willingly allow to enter with the push of a button.

In our minds a steady stream of violent self-talk beats up our self-esteem and yet we are bewildered as to where this violent conditioning comes from?

We have choices. We have agency. Peace starts in our own hearts. Rumi says, “the wound is where the light comes in.” The wound we feel from devastating acts of violence such as these are an opportunity to allow the light in. First in our own hearts, then in our own homes.

Namaste YogaFirst, turn off the violent media. Make your homes a safe haven of peace, starting with yourself. One person at a time we can create peace on earth, but it is going to take an army of spiritual warriors giving up violence in favour of peace.

By the time you are 18 years of age you will have witnessed 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders in the media. I am not here to question whether there is a causal relationship between media violence and violent events such as the Boston Marathon Explosion. I am here to question the widely accepted use of violence as entertainment and informational news. What effect does this have on your psyche and personal agency? Is it creating more peace in your life? In your home?

Patanjali’s yoga sutras offer up the yamas which are the codes of restraints, abstinences and self-regulations and involve our relationship with our external world. The first yama, ahimsa means non-violence, non-harming and non-injury.

Book 2 Verse 35 states, As yoga becomes firmly grounded in non-injury (ahimsa) other people who come near will naturally lose any feelings of hostility.

The focus of ahimsa works on three levels: 1) thought, 2) speech, 3) action. When you focus on non-harming thought, then speech, and finally action your natural love will then come shining through.

Reflect on the theme of ahimsa or nonviolence in your life, in your thoughts, words, and actions. What would you most like to get out of this class? What is your intention for today’s class?

Props Needed: meditation cushion, block

Yoga Asanas: cat/Marjaryasana, thread the needle, puppy/Uttana Shishosana, lunge pose/Anjaneyasana,  Warrior I/virabhadrasana one, Warrior II/virabhadrasana two, Warrior III/virabhadrasana three, Peaceful Warrior Easy pose/Parivrtta Sukhasana, Metta Meditation /Loving Kindness Meditation


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