When I was at my hair appointment on Tuesday - I read a story on FaceBook about a 62 year old, local woman, Denise Robert - who was out for a walk on Sunday night in a "safe" Manchester neighborhood and was randomly shot and killed. I said out loud, "What the f*ck is wrong with people? The world is going f*cking mad!" My friend who was cutting my hair, told me that Denise Robert was the Auntie of the fiancée of one of the other hair stylists at the salon. She was working that day, so she came over and we talked about it for a bit. I found out later that evening that Denise is also the sister-in-law of one of my old, beloved students (who recently lost her 14 year old daughter just two years ago.) All of this, it hurts my heart.
Here's the thing about murder - it has an explosive, exponential effect - way beyond what people untouched by the vicious act can fathom. One person's life might be taken but this entire family (Denise was the oldest of 12 children) and all of those that love her - will never be the same.
This kind of insane shit right here - this senseless, cowardly, brutal violence - is one of the MAIN reasons why I teach yoga.
For those of you not in the know, the first foundation of yoga is NONVIOLENCE. Which, you can imagine, as the kid of a murdered mother, really appeals to me. Now, as an adult, I teach and share yoga - as a way to bring the light of love to the darkness of this insane world that we've created. Yoga is one of my ways of rallying back against the tyranny of violence. Only my "weapon" of choice is LOVE.
One of my favorite quotes is from one of my spiritual heroes, the great Mahatma Gandhi, who said:
"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall - think of it, always. "
And so this is what I do. When the world seems to have gone completely crazy, when I see brutality, war, rape, slaughters, shootings and violence all around me, I keep my mind on God. When my mind shifts to all the suffering, I do my best to come back to sanity, where Spirit dwells and keep my thoughts, words and actions aligned with the ways of the Divine. I remind myself again and again that in the end - Love always win.
In Chapter 11 of A Course In Miracles - God or The Ego there's a great passage that says:
"You make by projection, but God creates by extension. The cornerstone of God's creation is you, for His thought system is light. Remember the Rays that are there unseen. The more you approach the center of His thought system, the clearer the light becomes. The closer you come to the foundation of the ego's thought system, the darker and more obscure becomes the way. Yet even the little spark in your mind is enough to lighten it. Bring this light fearlessly with you, and bravely hold it up to the foundation of the ego's thought system. Be willing to judge it with perfect honesty. Open the dark cornerstone of terror on which it rests, and bring it out into the light. There you will see that it rested on meaninglessness, and that everything of which you have been afraid was based on nothing."
That little spark of love in your mind is enough to lighten the darkness that we often find ourselves in. We must bring this light FEARLESSLY with us and bravely hold it up so that we can shine the light of the Divine on everything we see. This is how I try to make my way in the world.
I hope the person who killed Denise Robert is caught. I hope that he/she is held 100% accountable for their unthinkable actions. And I hope that we don't just let Denise's tragic story be another blip on our media screens - a hot topic for one minute and then quickly forgotten the next.
Please, let's not "get used to" this kind of stuff. Let's not go numb to violence and mentally check out whenever we see a horrific story. Let's consciously choose Love instead of Fear. Let's do our best to eradicate every ounce of violence that lives within our own hearts and minds - because changing the world is an inside job.