I grew up in California, the land of hippies. I was a lucky kid, as my biggest concern about peace was how well I could draw the signs on my notebook or form them with my two fingers.
But, as I grew older, I started to realize how sacred peace is in a world full of war, poverty, divorce, domestic violence and more. As I got busier with high school, university, my first career on Wall Street and now my current work—not to mention family and chaotic modern life—I came to understand the essence of the deepest, most challenging peace: the one within ourselves.
Yoga is a practice of making peace with, for, from and within ourselves. It is not about peace signs, big hugs and singing “Kumbaya!” in the name of global humanitarian rights, though that can also be important. It is profound and challenging. The peace yoga aims to create is supremely subtle, yet complex. It is about the peace of the inner you.
I am the first to admit that there are many times when I am not at peace. I catch myself having endless internal dialogues—silently but fiercely in my mind—that resemble multinational debates: “Should I eat that or not? Should I answer this email now? Is that the right business move? Is my husband going to be happy? How is my mother? I need to sweat. I should rest. I want a croissant, but should have eggs instead. Are people going to like this? What if they don’t?” My head becomes like a scene from Almodovar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.
This unglamorous internal clacking is said to represent a disconnect between the inner channels and energies of the subtle, intangible body, the one we cannot feel or touch but know is there. It is our internal world not at peace. The aim of yoga is to create harmony between all the energies that comprise us and move it all into the central line of the body. We use the poses to manually force energy into the center, the breath to guide it and the dedication and music to keep it headed in the right direction.
When our energy is in the central line—what the Tibetans called, “uma”—not only our bodies, but more importantly our minds, and as a result our entire lives, will always be at peace—with ourselves, itself and everything around us.
Every day we have a chance at finding our internal peace. We just have to surrender to and create the peace that is already inside us and, from there and only there, create and share peace to, for, from and with those around us and in the world.
Today, try and create your own peace from the inside out and community peace from the outside in. There is just one practice, one job: create our personal peace.