Here are a few small ways to practice personal nonviolence.
“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me,” goes the 1955 song. I’ve always liked that: the idea that the responsibility for sowing peace starts within each of us. Or, as Harry S. Truman would say, “The buck stops here.” After all, we can’t control how our kids behave in Aisle 4. We can’t control what gestures the guy in the next car is making. We can only control that little furnace of peace inside ourselves, stoke it, and hope enough of us can join our light together in the darkness. For this week’s Healthy Habit, here are a few small ways to practice personal nonviolence.
1. Devote a yoga practice.
We’re all familiar with the benefits of yoga for ourselves—increased flexibility, greater calm—but it can also serve others. At the beginning of a yoga session, devote your practice to a region of the world that needs healing, and return to this intention again at the end of your practice.
2. Stop yelling at your kids.
Hollering is a natural way to blow off steam, right? According to Dr. Laura Markham, the founding editor of AhaParenting.com, yelling “makes them harden their hearts to us… trains them not to listen until we raise or voices. And it trains them to yell, too.” All good reasons to find alternatives.
3. Pick a prayer.
Sister Joan Chittister wrote her powerful “Prayer for World Peace,” for the Unitarian Universalists, but no matter what religious affiliation you follow, there is a prayer that will resonate with you.
4. Veto violence.
Do a personal boycott of violent shows, movies or games by turning your attention and money elsewhere. It’s not about being a prude; it’s saying, “No thank, you. I’m not going to support this as a form of entertainment.”
5. Go meat free for one week.
There are literally billions of animals killed each year for food. A vegetarian or vegan diet allows us to eat compassionately for seven days, as well as preserve precious natural resources.
6. Practice ahimsa with self.
Treat your own body with ahimsa (nonviolence). Rest enough. Don’t belittle yourself with negative self-talk. Don’t abuse your body with crappy good or too much TV.
7. Push a politician.
Whether it’s reducing gun violence nationwide, protection of an animal species, transgender rights—whatever is moving you—drop a letter, call or head to a meeting.
8. Use a mantra.
Try one such as the universal peace mantra, Sarvesham Svasir Bhavatu, sung here by the incomparable Tina Turner.