peace begins here

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It's a heavy time for hearts. I'm struggling to remain hopeful; any actions I take seem insignificant as the world crumbles beneath our feet. Every time I look at the news, it seems greed, hatred and violence are winning. It is so easy to react to the news of the world with hatred and fear and hopelessness. It is so easy to point fingers and take no blame for the problems of our world.

We have to be intentional as to not give up and live tunnel-visioned and only concerned with our own lives, worries and concerns. In this state of near hopelessness, I've started to ask myself the question, "what if the same evil that is out there is also within me?"  After all, in one way or another, we are all struggling with the same disease of the ego. We all crave, hunger and strive for external approval, relying upon others to tell us that we are enough. One moment we're judging others and the next we're striving to be them. We have platforms to plaster to the world about how interesting our lives are, and within seconds we flip between loving ourselves and hating ourselves.

Within each of us, decay and vibrancy live alongside one another. And this is nothing to be ashamed about. It's merely human. And yet the dark within is difficult to confront. I know I'd much rather sweep my faults under the rug and never see them again. But like Carl Jung said, "whatever is rejected from the self, appears in the world as a monster." And our world is not short on monsters.

There is a dark side to every light side, and we have a choice to can either detest and ignore our personal darkness, letting it fester and lash out, or we can confront our fears, feelings of inadequacy, tendencies to gossip, and urges to react to violence with more violence. We have to be brave enough to sit with our dark, and invite tenderness there. We have to trust that all of us belongs, that even our ugly has its own lessons to offer. We have to remember to love and to trust and we have to have the strength and courage to make that choice again and again and again.

This past week, it has been my yoga students who have repeatedly given me hope. They remind me that there are so many people who are truly committed to peace. They are willing to confront their depths and come out on the other side. This choice does not mean that all hurt and suffering will vanish; after all, the world is full of heartbreak. But it is a reminder that we are not alone. So, hold yourself in tenderness. Love your faults. Love the part of you that hates your faults. Journal. Meditate. Write affirmations. Develop practices of softening. And keep in mind that some darkness is too precarious to traverse on your own; there is great strength in seeking help. Find a therapist. Bolster yourself with community. Confront the dark so you can come out to the light.

In loving yourself, you'll be more forgiving with yourself. In being more forgiving of yourself, you'll be more forgiving of others. While fear and hatred is contagious, so is love. True transformation takes time. It begins slowly, but it has real and lasting effects. Roll out your mat, sit on your cushion. Look inwards. Shine light on the dark. These grassroots efforts have the power for change.

Peace begins in our hearts. It begins right here and now.