Peace Begins With Me

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…

Remember singing those words in camp, or Sunday School, or somewhere when you were younger? I do, but I probably just sang it because somebody told me to. I didn’t really think about it. And yet, it does bring up good memories and emotions.

RIght now, for me, our national news brings up bad memories and emotions. Just in the past week there were 2 mass shootings, adding to the multitude our nation has experienced. Not to mention bombings. And in local news, minor shootings, child molestation, rapes, domestic violence of all sorts. Now there is also Rhabdomyolysis. Wait, Rhabdo….what???

Maybe you don’t follow health and fitness reporting, but I have seen a few stories about this recently. Rhabdomyolysis is the catastrophic break down (really an explosion) of muscle fibers, which leach proteins and electrolytes into the bloodstream. This release overloads the kidneys and can lead to renal failure and possibly death. Usually it is caused by crushing injuries, electrocution, or seizures.

The causes of this condition make it rare. But you can force yourself into Rhabdomyolysis by over exerting yourself during exercise. I know that some people will hurt themselves if they are hell bent on it whether it is with drugs, a weapon or an excessive work out. And I don’t mean to be critical of the movement science behind CrossFit in particular. But I do have a problem with competition and exertion to the point of death and the glorification of self destruction. CrossFit has a mascot called “Uncle Rhabdo,” along with quite a cultural awareness of a relatively rare condition. Here is Uncle Rhabdo:


A clown that is obviously overexerting, bleeding, with kidneys and intestines falling out, and taking in a little dialysis between sets.

Dialysis is not funny, Crossfit. Neither is this cartoon, nor the tees that are for sale, nor the idea that doing as much as you can, no matter what the cost (there is also a cartoon of Uncle Rhabdo vomiting and there has been recent news about peeing during CrossFit workouts). Here is a quote from a CrossFit participant: “I see pushing my body to the point where the muscles destroy themselves as a huge benefit of CrossFit.” Sick. Just like Uncle Rhabdo. This is from a man that spent six days in ICU after self-induced Rhabdomyolysis. This is a problem on so many levels. But for now lets just stick to the part of promoting pain rather than health and wholeness (what I thought fitness was supposed to be about).

This idea of proving yourself–of glorified self destruction, or of being better than someone, or of feeling superior–is what I feel is at the center of our social violence.

Our local middle school just began a program called “Rachel’s Challenge.” Rachel Peck was one of the first victims at Columbine High School and her family has established a program to end bullying in schools. Bullying is when, because of a low sense of self esteem but also fear of hurting themselves, young people instead hurt others. They usually pick on the ones that cannot defend themselves, so winning is assured.  Rachel’s Challenge hopes to begin a chain reaction of kindness to help eradicate bullying in schools. It’s a beautiful program and I am hopeful that it will have an impact. Just attending the community meeting made me even more mindful of the importance of my actions toward others. And there were over 300 people at the event. Let the chain reaction begin.

October is a big month for causes–usually the one most promoted is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Yes, I hope we can end cancer of all types, but I am somewhat disheartened at the amount of funding put towards pink products. I’m not sure if it is spreading awareness or consumption.

The other colored ribbon for the month is purple which represents Domestic Violence Awareness. Not heard of that one? Well, it might be that the ones suffering from it are usually destitute and don’t have the backing of big pharma to develop cures or products. How do we cure domestic violence? The same way that Rachel’s Challenge hopes to end bullying: by kindness. Bullies are the same whether they are children or adults: they need to hurt others to feel better about themselves. In fact, many bullies in school are from homes that suffer some type of domestic violence. This is a chain reaction that needs to be stopped.

In 2012, Nipun Mehta gave the Baccalaureate speech at graduation for the University of Pennsylvania. A man “who has never in his adult life has applied for a job. A man who hasn’t worked for pay in nearly a decade, and whose self-stated mission is simply ‘to bring smiles to the world and stillness to my heart.’” This man walked across India with his new wife hoping to find out what life was about. They budgeted a dollar a day for the two of them and walked over 1000 km. “For our survival we had to depend utterly on the kindness of strangers.”

I have a feeling that Uncle Rhabdo would NOT have approved. Mr. Mehta is an unusual choice for a graduation speaker to be sure. But that he was asked to speak at such a prestigious event is the point. His speech received a standing ovation. Please read the whole text. Here are some excerpts:

After returning from their pilgrimage, Nipun was asked what he had learned. He summed it up with an acronym using the letters of the word walk:

W-witness: A walking pace is the speed of community, which will lead you to witness a profoundly inextricable connection with all living things.

A-accept: You place yourself in the palm of the universe and accept whatever life tosses into your laps.

L-love: The more we learned from nature, and built a kind of inner resilience to external circumstances, the more we fell into our natural state–which was to be loving.

K-know thyself: Our plans and actions buildup mental residue and this internal noise starts polluting our motivations, our ethics, and our spirit.

The path that Nipun and his wife took began at Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram. Gandhi is maybe most remembered by his words, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Witness, Accept, Love, and Know Yourself. Be kind to your body and to who you are. You were born for a reason and that reason isn’t to hurt yourself, to prove yourself, or to inflict pain and suffering on others.

In the yoga community, every class ends with just a simple kind word, Namaste. Simply put, it means that you honor the people that shared your experience. This is important. In yoga classes, we reveal our weaknesses and vulnerabilities as well as our strengths. Again, not a scene for Uncle Rhabdo. Good. Let us invent a mascot that is more like a beautiful child–not encumbered by mental residue, fully engaged in loving life, whose main goal is to grow, whose heart is broken by any hurtful action, and whose smile can light up a room. Let’s advertise that, maybe have a slogan like Nipun’s or Rachel. Pass on the smile, the love, and the peace.


During the month of October, On The Path Yoga will be offering donation based classes every Saturday. All funds will go towards The Center for Women in Transition (CWIT). Also, every Saturday afternoon, a workshop around the theme of “Centered & Strong” will be offered, with a portion of the fees also going to CWIT. Please see our website for details. Or find out more about Rachel’s Challenge and participate locally to start a chain reaction of kindness. Let’s please stop hurting ourselves, hurting each other, and hurting our society.

Stuck Up! (October is National Anti Bullying Month–be nice to yourself, as well)

middle school trauma

We’ve heard it along the great halls of high school: she is sooo stuck up! Which meant sort of snobby and too good to talk to you. They closed their minds to your presence. Thankfully, I don’t use that phrase to describe people anymore. I know several people who might seem that way and don’t really take time to be my BFF. But now, in my more mature outlook, I just describe them as busy, or not having a lot in common with me. Which is totally okay. I get over it and try to be over some of the traumatic imprint of  school as well.

But, I do know many people who I would occasionally describe as stuck, myself included. Once, my best friend and I had to go and get my daughter from school. She got sick in the middle of the day. I was stuck at home with a newborn and no car. My BFF Anne came over in her car and drove while I sat in the back seat holding the baby (her children no longer needed car seats). When we got to the school, Anne got out, hopped in the back and took the baby. I reached for the door. It was child-proofed, as was her side (her children WERE the age that needed that safety precaution). We were stuck. One of us was going to have to haul our butt up over the seat and open the front door to get out of the car. It actually was hilarious, but we weren’t sure about telling anyone EVER that we had locked ourselves INSIDE a car.

We did tell our husbands. The first thing one of them said was, “why didn’t you just roll down the window and reach through to open the back door?” Smart*$$. I felt like becoming very stuck up at that moment. We had not only gotten stuck in the car, we also had been stuck in thinking the only way out was to use the door handle on the inside of the car, because that was how it is done, right? Like being stuck up, usually we are stuck because of our perceptions of what is possible.

Discovery and friendship are valuable on the path of life. I am blessed with friends like Anne that are caring and helpful. I also have always considered myself a lifelong learner, and not strictly in the academic sense. I do love reading and looking up information and just knowing stuff, but more than that, I love the feeling of true discovery, like when I am in a new city and I take the day and just walk all over. It isn’t learning, exactly, it is more like adventure. It unsticks me. Usually I have expectations of what I would like to experience, but I always discover something unexpected and wonderful by opening myself up to a new place, perspective, and possibilities.

When I am not a world traveler, which is most of the time, I try to apply that same sensibility to my life. Sometimes I can get stuck in a car or in high school-ish events that create drama without any adventure or discovery. Changing my perspective gets me past the drama and over the trauma of life. It can open up a world of life long learning without leaving the comfort of my home (or car. Although crawling over that seat did bring back some sense of youthful adventure!).

I just learned, for example, that my pelvis is sort of rotated to the left. Knowing this isn’t any great accomplishment–in fact I could with confidence say that nearly everyone’s pelvis has some degree of lateral rotation. It does explain why I feel stuck in certain yoga poses, however. But that isn’t a big discovery, either, since I have always known that certain poses were difficult for my right hip. I figured it was the “stickiness” of getting older. And in a sense, that is true. Generally these imbalances are results of trauma from living our day to day lives. But now, how to get unstuck?

Perfect! NOT Me!

I do believe that aging doesn’t necessitate immobility. But we need to keep that attitude of a lifelong learner and be willing to discover, change, and grow. That is difficult but not impossible. It calls for staying young at heart.

Really cute! And a great attitude.

So I have a new map to my hips. And I plan to discover a path to become less stuck. Last week I spent the day gardening and focused on how I was kneeling and squatting. I worked very hard to keep my pelvis perfectly squared. It felt like I had gone to the chiropractor rather than spent the day digging! My hips felt free! And then the next day my low back ached horribly. I acted like a high schooler again–over doing it and not thinking about the consequences. One discovery on this path is respecting physical boundaries and practicing patience.

Pushing too hard to achieve the perfect split.

I still need to figure ways to get unstuck. My work isn’t done. But then again, I’m not ready to stop learning either. So every day, I notice my little habits that might keep me stuck and from discovering my true self. And I try to blaze a new trail toward becoming a little less stuck. It has always been my tendency to bully my way through obstacles in my path (I am not totally mature). And you know, maybe that is why my pelvis is stressed. So now I plan to treat my hips a little bit better. To maybe talk to them, spend some quality time with them, be less snobby, and even become their BFF. And each day I remind myself how blessed I am to have basically a whole, healthy body, along with great friends, and car doors that don’t need safety locks.

ME! Not perfect, but on the path to healthy, unstuck hips.