Happy International Day of Peace.

Today, September 21, is the best day of 2015.  (So far. I’m assuming Christmas 2015 is going to be epic.)  But today is the best because It’s the Official International Day of Peace.  

peace day

The first International Day of Peace Day was observed in September 1982 by the UN and is held annually in September.  You can read more about it’s inception here.  The basic premise?  Teach Peace.  “The United Nations invites all nations and people to honor a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.”  My kind of day.

Even though it may sound naive, I believe if each individual practices discernment through meditation and compassion in action, peace is not only possible, but it is inevitable.  Someone has to believe it.  Someone has to live it. If we all believed it, it would be true.

I’m not the only one who believes it.  Ever heard of His Holiness the Dali Lama? Here’s what he has to say in the foreword of a book you need to buy, Peace is Every Step:

“Although attempting to bring about world peace though the internal transformation of individuals is difficult, it is the only way.  Peace must be first be developed within an individual.”  -Dalai Lama

Today, you don’t have to create world peace.  You just need to try your best to create inner peace.  Start your day off with the right intention.  This one works well for me!  Know that today is a precious gift.  Remind yourself that you have 24 hours to bring peace, joy and happiness to ourselves and others.  Radiate loving kindness to every person you meet.  Make today the best day.  If you really love, peace is inevitable.

“Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand new hours to live.  What a precious gift!  We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.” -Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step

Happy Peace Day,

-lisa

practice loving-kindness

loving-kindness.

Your yoga practice is a great teacher because it presents this lesson: how to accept what our bodies are able to do (and how they look!) while simultaneously challenging our bodies to move beyond their perceived limits to find more freedom of movement and mobility.  In the process, we learn to be gentle with our self-judgments and with our lower backs.  We learn to love our bodies and love the simple fact of being able to move.  And we do the best we can.
The Yoga asanas are just one way we learn, through trial and error, through sweat and success, how to stop striving to find love outside of ourselves, and instead, find love inside.
This can only be done by practicing loving-kindness.  World-renowned author and Buddhist monk Pema Chödrön presents the talk “The Freedom to Love”, where she elucidates her modern-day interpretation of the ancient practice of loving-kindness.  This is also called metta meditation.
It’s worth the watch. 

In this short video, she explains how learning to practice loving-kindness changes your perspective on life.  Loving-kindness makes “a big difference in terms of your ability to be able to relax with yourself… It’s sort of like connecting with the best of ourselves,” Chödrön explains.
Yoga is the same way: it offers us a chance to connect with the best of ourselves.
I’ve found, personally, that when I connect with and appreciate ‘the best in myself’ I’m more appreciative and accepting of ‘the worst of myself.’  When I’m practicing loving-kindness toward myself I’m more accepting of my own flaws.  When my anxiety is high, or my self-esteem low, or when I’m feeling guilty and overwhelmed trying to meet the impossibly high expectations of others, I take a big yoga breath and remind myself: I’m doing the best I can.  This is the same thing I learned to say when I repeatedly fell on my face trying to learning pincha mayurasana (forearm stand) for three years.  I’m doing the best I can, I’d say.
When I learned to say this, to love myself despite my biggest anxieties, I also learned to accept (with more ease) people in my life who triggered my anxieties. This was not easy.  But, the more I practiced loving-kindness towards myself, the easier it was for me to realize:
 “That person is probably doing the very best he can… even if it’s not what I would want him to do.”  
Then I could relax (a little bit more).  And love (a little bit more).  Want to be able to relax into yourself?  (Even it it’s just for a few blessed minutes?)  Well.  Here’s your chance.
Finish February, the month of LOVE, by learning this metta meditation.

loving-kindness-e1355686322789

Say it every day.  With sincerity.  Start loving yourself a little more.  Let me know how it goes.

*Note: parts of this blog post and this image can be found on Westport Yoga’s blog accessed here. 

-lisa