As Earth Day approaches this year, I am struck by what it means to truly foster Peace on this planet. I remember as a child, learning about anti-nuclear protestors who chained themselves to fences and were forcibly removed and jailed. These brave souls became my heroines and heroes in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. I was moved to tears singing Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” and hearing stories of civil disobedience and the message of non-violent resistance. Later in the 1990’s, when I danced barefoot on Earth Day, a lump would form in my throat when I celebrated each small victory (and the Gigantic Hearts) of environmental activists who sacrificed so much to save a single tree and worked to preserve open space for our children’s children. Peace.
Last week my seven year old son earned his yellow bandana as a Grounded yogi. Much moved, I watched him tell his yoga students a story. He described a girl who wanted her father’s attention during her father’s important meeting. The father wished to keep his daughter occupied, so he tore off the page of a magazine with a picture of the Earth and ripped it into pieces. Knowing that his daughter was not very adept at geography, he was certain the puzzle would keep her busy for quite some time. The little girl happened to notice that a picture of a person was on the back of the picture of the globe, so she simply put together the picture of the person and then flipped it over to display the completed picture of the world. Her father was astounded at how little time it had taken her to complete the picture, so he asked her how she did it. She replied, “It was so easy, Daddy! Just turn it over and look at the other side.” She further explained, “I put together the person, and the whole Earth came together, too.” Yoga teaches us that we can bring peace to the planet by first accessing the peace within and then sharing it with others. Peace.
Today my heroines and heroes are the children to whom I teach yoga. I am inspired by their stories every day, and I am moved to tears and action as we celebrate together. I dance barefoot with them and piece together the puzzles of our lives. These brave souls teach me how to stay aligned on (and with) the Earth, how to sing, and how to stand up for what is right and true.
One such messenger wrote the following statement about what YOGA IS…. She inscribed this message of Peace in about five minutes. When she shared her words and her Gigantic Heart, I felt a lump form in my throat, and I was reminded of how imperative it is to continue to spread this peace to others. And, so today… I pass along this third graders message to you. Peace.
Yoga is Peace. No fighting is involved. As you stretch out, you realize how peaceful it is. It is also love. Pure love is a light inside of you. In your dreams it makes a warm glow in your heart. As the light spreads, peace and love spread. It spreads all over the universe. War stops. The injuries are cured. For a moment, there is no such thing as rage or wounds. The light can only be spread by your peace and love. Practice this strategy in yoga. I dream of a world full of love and peace. A world without rage or wounds. And that can only be true if you start it. The warm light is glowing. More people are starting yoga.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti… and Happy Earth Day, too.