The reports of senseless violence are dominating the airwaves recently. Just when we think we’ve heard the last of it, another report comes in. Feelings of helplessness and anger arise and we have no idea what to do with them. How do we manage our own lives while being aware of such tragedies? What can we do to make a difference? How can we be at peace in light of such events?
It is nearly impossible to not become saddened or upset upon hearing about another police shooting or tragic gun violence. These feelings are natural. However, if we stay in these reactions we begin to develop resentment, fault, rage, or other destructive emotions. We then find ourselves heading down the same destructive path, ultimately contributing to the very state of violence and negativity that these acts came from in the first place.
Peace in the world starts with ourselves first. When we learn to find inner peace, we can then start to create global peace. Most of us are not able to leave our lives and go become activists or join a movement. However, by setting an example in our communities we can create a ripple effect that shows others how to be at peace as well.
At TantraNova we have developed practices that can support us in the storms of anger, sadness, helplessness and rage. The first step is to cultivate the observer within yourself; to begin to observe your habitual reactions. We can do this through breathing into our belly. This seems simple enough, but has a very powerful effect on our nervous system. When we breathe into our belly, our parasympathetic nervous system is activated. This nearly instantly calms us down and brings us back into the present moment. Feelings of negativity then begin to subside and we can start to see more clearly. From here, we can start to observe our reactions.
For example, when I hear about a recent act of violence I notice myself feeling sad. I now have a choice. I can continue down the path of feeling sad by creating more “stories” about the event such as thinking about how the world is such a terrible place or wondering what is wrong with people. Or, I can breathe into my belly and be with my emotion, hold space for it, and allow it to pass in its natural time. Once the emotion passes, I can then choose how to respond to the event, such as donate money to a cause or offer an act of kindness to someone in my community. I can offer this response from a place of peace, knowing that I am doing what I am capable of without contributing to more violence.
It is tricky to catch yourself in a moment of intense emotion and step out of it. But, with practice, this becomes more and more automatic and habitual. A wonderful sense of freedom arises along with more compassion for others.
Being at peace within yourself by no means suggests that you do not care about what is happening in the world around you. Rather, you are choosing to create a new reality here on Earth through your actions and your example. As you work more and more with the belly breath, your observer will grow stronger and stronger. As you practice, notice what arises from this place of inner peace. What actions are you now able to take? What can you do for your community? Global peace starts with one person at a time. Be the change you’d like to see in the world.
About the Author:
Dr. Elsbeth Meuth is the co-founder of the TantraNova Institute in Chicago and co-author of Sexual Enlightenment. She has assisted thousands of couples and women deepen and expand their relationship with their divine essence, power and intimate Self. She is an internationally renowned workshop leader, relationship and intimacy coach, and a certified Tantra Yoga teacher. She was featured on Showtime’s documentary series Sexual Healing and the Emmy Award-winning NBC show Starting Over, and recently participated as a nominated Changemaker at the White House sponsored United State of Women Summit in Washington, D.C.