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What does yoga have to do with peacekeeping or Afghanistan?

Friday, March 5, 2010 by Marianne Elliott

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When I started blogging I was living in Afghanistan, working as a human rights officer with the UN peacekeeping mission. These days I'm hosting '30 days of yoga'.

What happened?

When did this become a yoga blog? What does all this yoga have to do with peace-building, world-saving and human-rights defending? What does it have to do with Afghanistan?

Firstly, this isn't a 'yoga blog'.

You are as still just as likely to find me writing here about young women activists in Afghanistan, finding your purpose or how to write without writing as you are to find me writing about whether or not it is best to practice only one kind of yoga

What links all these topics together is my understanding that we each have a unique and essential role to play in the world.

Each of us has a unique set of experiences, skills and qualities that makes us perfectly qualified to do what it is that we do best.

When we discover where our passion and purpose lie, we are then free to follow our own authentic path to service in the world.

In my life the sense of purpose came early. What took me longer was the process of unravelling the well-hidden fears that lay beneath my good intentions and which, as long as they were unexamined and unaddressed, undermined my ability to serve.

Yoga and meditation have been my path to meet my own self.

In the sometimes terrifying stillness and clarity of the meditation cushion and the yoga mat I have finally kept company with the thoughts and feelings that I had long preferred to avoid.

By holding my seat, continuing to breath and leaning into the softness of my own exposed wounds I have been able to first glimpse, and then rest into the spaciousness that has always been here, waiting for me to sit still long enough to come home to it. 

What all of this has to do with my work as a human rights advocate and peace-builder is this:

"If we want there to be peace in the world, we have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid in our hearts, to find the soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That's the true practice of peace."

                              Pema Chodron, Practicing Peace in Times of War.

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6 Responses to "What does yoga have to do with peacekeeping or Afghanistan?"

  1. Carol says:

    Pema’s quote is spot on!

  2. asiyah says:

    Love that quote. Am working on it myself.
    Your piece is spot-on.

  3. Richenda says:

    Right on, lady! I’ve never practiced anything as powerful (and sometimes frightening) as sitting still and breathing.

  4. Steffi says:

    OMG, that quote is powerful beautiful! Love your post!
    When I leave yoga classes I feel so peaceful and clear and centered, ready to embrace the whole world. I’ve always thought that yoga is a peace-making tool.
    Rock on! đŸ™‚

  5. Brené says:

    Beautiful and wise. Thank you.

  6. wow i didn’t think it did – until i read your post. I personally find yoga very peaceful and tranquil so yeah, I would have to agree.

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