The practice of yoga constantly reminds us to surrender and let go. But surrendering does not mean giving up or letting go of the ability to act. Being present and adapting requires the constant reevaluation of what surrender actually means. Contrary to the notion of accepting injustice, the philosophies of yoga encourage us to participate in the current moment to continue to practice one of its most basic tenants: ahimsa (non-violence).
Living in a society that constantly challenges notions of equality (instead often promoting selfishness and fear of difference) often creates a sense of hopelessness. This seems more real and true in current times with information dispensed at an alarmingly fast rate that often validates violence. Many of us feel threatened and afraid of impending policy changes. By turning toward ahimsa as a source of empowerment, we can transform fear into something productive, positive, and powerful.
Regardless of your political affiliation, ahimsa speaks to a fundamental sense of security and ease to which we all aspire. Ask anyone, do you want to be harmed? Do you want to have someone commit violence against you? Not only would very few people answer in the affirmative, most people would also claim they do not wish to do harm to others. If you are unsure about what to think about a new policy, a new law, or a new way of treating any segment of the population ask yourself—does this do harm. Engaging with this question—truly asking it—will allow you to step into the shoes of someone who may look, act, or practice different things than you. Those external differences do not make them any less capable of feeling violence and harm.
Bring present in the current American landscape means recognizing that building walls, taking away education or money for education, and leaving the American people with no health care actually commits both violence and harm. With this recognition, do we then surrender? Or do we stay present by acknowledging that only by doing nothing does this become our present. Action moves from surrender. It is time to surrender to the realization that in order to stop these acts of violence we must stand together. Uniting not only creates a sense of productivity, but also a sense of support in difficult times. We are all spinning on this small planet in the same universe together; harm to one is harm to all. While it is sometimes selfishly easier to continue to live in a bubble of privilege for a time, continuing to do so now means not only are you not being present—struggling against the reality we face and holding on to opportunities denied to others – you are complicit in a potentially violent and harmful future for all. Regret is one of the most harmful emotional states. In order to stay above a feeling desperation and hopelessness, we must continue to stay present and adjust to our current landscape; allow yourself to participate in activities that foster a future of non-violence.