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“If we think about the vast majority of human problems; both on a personal and on a worldwide scale, it seems that they stem from an inability to feel sincerely involved with others, and to put ourselves in their place. Violence is inconceivable if everyone is genuinely concerned with the happiness of others.”
Matthieu Ricard

with the world as it is, i have been thinking about the guidelines that yoga offers, for how to conduct ourselves well in communication with others. i began with the five attitudes suggested by Patanjali to simplify and improve our relationships, the most important of which is non-violence.

how can we practise non-violence to help ourselves and others?

here are some simple ideas.

if you inadvertently harm yourself or others – bathe the injury in love.

if it is in your power, seek to heal any hurt that already exists.

build bridges. be kind. include.

be gentle. move slowly. act respectfully. offer care.

“Himsa (violence, the opposite of ahimsa) begins with negative judgements about people. These often surface before any real contact or communication has taken place. Noticing the assumptions and judgements we make about people can be the starting point in developing a more open and accepting attitude to the world.” (Embodying the Yoga Sutra – Roy and Charlton).


your body is speaking. are you listening?

as you practise yoga, listen to the stories your body is telling you

the openings and the foldings
the small releases, breaths and pauses
the fluid parts, the parts that grip
the open spaces and looser links

“become again a flaming body
of blind feeling” from The Sea by Mary Oliver


on this International Day of Peace, dedicated to the ending of war and violence, and resonant with the yogic principle of ahimsa – non-harming – i have chosen this poem, written by teenager Mohamed Assaf, who’s grief for his homeland of Syria he expresses so eloquently.

I Have Divided My Heart,

and half of it is still in Syria.
When the sun shines in Syria
the warmth flowers in my cheek.

And when the sun sets there
my heart remembers shadows
and the closing of flowers.

taken from the collection England: Poems from a School

the picture today, is of jasmine, the national flower of Syria.

after a while

sit comfortably – with plenty of support

let gravity settle your body slowly, slowly into the earth

notice the sensation of breath passing softly through your nostrils. how effortless it is… no need to push or pull the breath
imagine the out breath moving down your body into the earth
cleaning and clearing – making space for the new breath to move in

after a while
with your right index finger – close the right nostril
breathe in and out, only through your left nostril
cleaning the left side of your body
soft – effortless – thorough

after a while
lower your hand – breathe in and out through both nostrils

after a while
with your left index finger – close the left nostril
breathe in and out through your right nostril
cleaning the right side of your body
soft, effortless and thorough – but no need to push or pull

after a while
lower your hand – breathe in and out through both nostrils

“Breath is the key element, in autumn and in spring, seasons of transition… it offers crucial assistance through phases of transformation…” Sandra Sabatini

this morning

instead of demanding that your body stretches, reaches, balances, holds, makes this or that shape …

instead of commanding your breath to wait, extend, deepen, hold…

instead of anticipating…

settle your gaze on the soft light
forming shadow tracery on the grass

open your ears to the wood pigeon,
the rain, the rumble of traffic

feel the cool air and the new light and the fresh start

let these things invite connection

become lost and found in it all


if you are looking for some support to begin or refresh your meditation practice, may i suggest A Monk’s Guide to Happiness – Meditation in the 21st Century by Gelong Thubten? it is one of the best guides to meditation i have read.

it is a practical book, well written and clear. the author understands the difficulties of establishing a meditation practice and offers helpful suggestions for integrating meditation into daily life, both as a seated practice and in small moments of mindfulness throughout the day.

he simplifies it all – no smoke and mirrors here – and yet manages, to convey some of the magic of the practice.

he offers meditations for beginners and develops these to include more specific projects with chapters on compassion and forgiveness.

i enjoyed reading it very much, and continue to find it helpful.

“Meditation helps us to access what feels like a deep well within, filled with nourishing water that we can drink whenever we want.” Gelong Thubten

when you pause

as you let your mind settle

and notice again the quiet breath lengthening naturally,

watch for the pauses – between the breathing in and the breathing out

and see how the breath

pools into silence.

as you do your practice –

live for these still, deep pools

cool, reflective…

when you breathe out

standing – breathe softly a while – your breath will become slower

now – everything is ready – gravity and breath have made all the preparations

your out breath can lower your soft body back into itself again

your shoulders lead the way – sliding down your back like rain on a windowpane

can you feel your pelvis bathing in it?

breath pools and spreads at your feet

you are washed through

there is a peculiar silence when it rains, and that morning in the valley all the noises seemed to have stopped – the noises of the farm, the tractor, and the chopping of wood. there was only the dripping from the roof, and the gutters were gurgling. it was quite extraordinary to feel the rain on one, to get wet to the skin, and to feel the earth and the trees receive the rain with great delight; for it hadn’t rained for some time, and now the little cracks in the earth were closing up. the noises of the many birds were made still be the rain; the clouds were coming in from the east, dark, heavily laden, and were being drawn towards the west; the hills were being carried by them, and the smell of the earth was spreading into every corner. all day it rained. J Krishnamurti

when you breathe in

standing – wait while the breath and body settle – breathe naturally – no control


see how the in breath lifts the soft sail of the body

opening your waist – full sail on the breeze

and does your spine absorb the movement fully?

see how the strings that hold your shoulders slacken,
so they float up – buoyant

how hopeful this feels!

a small and certain resurrection …