Guns, Peace, & Preventive Medicine in the Kali Yuga

peaceful culture we are all in this together

“Be who you are. Be where you are. Feel your body and breathe into your best self. Now, send loving kindness to all those in need,” I said quietly. I needed to re-ground myself in what is real. The tendency in stressful times is to shut down and feel less, when in fact, we need to feel more!

I had just received the news of another school shooting, Parkland, Florida. My heart, sinking with anguish for the families of Parkland teens, also the families of Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Columbine – the list is too long – throbbed with the ache of rage and powerlessness. Platitudes don’t work. There is nothing usual or normal about having to process how another gun has killed a beloved in a senseless act of violence. We have to process sensations, deep sadness, values and clear action, quickly.

And this is exactly where yoga with its ancient roots and clear-sighted approach to preventing suffering can be most useful, not just for the one who practices the teachings, and in moments of emergency, but for all of us in building the PEACE CULTURE we envision.

These moments of needing to re-center also seem increasingly necessary these days. As we evolve through a 432,000-year cycle of time known to the ancestral sages as the Kali Yuga, or the Age of Darkness.

The ancient Greeks, the Hopi, Cherokee, and Lakota tribes, as well as the indigenous people of Hawaii and the Indus Valley, believe that time moves in vast cycles. We are now at a low point when the light of our planet, beset by fear, lies, and doubt, has dimmed. The good news is that the cycle will end. For every spot of gloom we see, there are endless points of light and rebirth emerging. We see them with the rising tide of school walk-outs, the marches, the rising of light bearers all around our planet.

Fortunately, we also have roadmaps for the journey from darkness into the light. Yoga offers one of the best maps because the practices of breathwork, concentration, movement, and connection give the body and mind a framework for wise action. Yoga is the preventative medicine our minds need to sustain health on our planet.

Yes, we need more vigorous gun legislation. Yes, we need to elect a Congress that cares more for children and human life than for NRA money. Yes, we need better mental health systems. Yes, we need so much, but mostly we need to resurrect our shut-down, traumatized bodies and minds so we are making positive moves based on intelligence and compassionate values. We need to reinvigorate the capacity to feel deeply, for without that, we cannot empathize with others or have the reverence for life that underpins healthy societies.

Without the capacity for seeing things clearly, people can be misled. We watch – and revolt against – the gun lobby’s continued distortion of the truth. The claim that gun ownership stops crime is common in the U.S., and that belief drives laws that make it easy to own and keep firearms. But about 30 careful studies show more guns are linked to more crimes: murders, rapes, and others. Far less research shows that guns help stop crime, according to a report by Scientific American (“More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows” 10/1/2017).

These studies are clear in their refutation of our present gun policies, even though a 1996 U. S. spending bill outlawed the use of CDC funds for research into gun violence. The infamous Dickey Amendment mandated that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control … may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

The fact is, hard numbers show that more firearms do not keep people safe. A gun in the home has been associated with a nearly threefold increase in the odds that someone would be killed at home by a family member or intimate acquaintance. In 2015, a combined analysis of 15 different studies found that people who had access to firearms at home were nearly twice as likely to be murdered as people who did not.

Why do so many Americans believe the opposite? It makes no logical sense, except for the deep-seated BELIEF that guns make people safer, and the exhilaration many shooters feel after discharging a deadly weapon. The explosive power of having a gun and being able to shoot it is like a narcotic, addictive and deadly.

As I looked deeply for the turnaround, for how we are going to reverse the deadly trends and restore virtue to our public as well as personal lives, I pictured a pathway from a GUN CULTURE to a PEACE CULTURE. I could see where we wanted to be, but I had to look at how we came to this point to see how to unwind it, and how we could make different decisions along the way. Tracing the starting point from now, back to its roots, I had to look to the suffering, not away from it.

What causes the gun culture we are living in? Insecurity. What causes insecurity? Trauma. Where does trauma come from? Abuse to body and mind. What is the origin of abusive action? Lack of feeling. What will heal our feeling capacities? Somatic awakening —- detecting our muscles, our senses, our inner life. How can we reawaken this capacity? Kindness. Where does kindness come from? Education about body, mind, health, and happiness. How can we educate for happiness? We begin by establishing feelings of security and peace in the body, which will cultivate a culture of peace.

Feeling more, not feeling less, the people who choose the path of yoga and meditation discover profound sources of rejuvenation and enchantment. It’s pretty amazing, this art and science of happiness, yoga. It’s also some of the best preventative medicine we can find to heal the ailing minds who think we can shoot our way out of problems.

So, if the Kali Yuga seems overwhelming, please remember: it’s never too late to take the next step in becoming who you really are and moving from the shadows to the light! Let the kriyas – explored in this and the next three Brave New Views — show you how! And then you can show others how. Read on to discover more about Kriya Yoga. You can make a huge difference in your life and in the lives of our children, our future.

Please do it now! Yoga, as well as powerful art forms that help us to “paint our own reality,” give us the tools we need to travel through the Kali Yuga with equanimity and nourish our sacred lives.

Please remember, we’re all in this together!

With warm Namaste!

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