The recent tragedy in Orlando is a heart wrenching example of how inhumane a human can be. Our minds cannot grasp the breadth of suffering the shooting has created, nor can we easily envision some personal response to an act so horrific yet distant from us. The teaching we adopted for this month, Accept What Comes, seems a feeble statement in light of such events. What teaching or practice can help us digest such disturbing incidents and not become depressed or jaded?
The most fundamental Yoga practice that supports us to cope with difficulty is meditation. A regular practice of calming and focusing the mind in some way develops a steadiness deep within us. Practicing this way builds willpower and resilience, an ability to observe our own thoughts and feelings without being swept away by them, and the ability to consciously choose how to respond to a situation instead of falling into old and unhealthy patterns.
If we maintain at least some level of equanimity in the face of a tragedy or crisis, we can make conscious choices that bring some benefit, instead of reacting with hatred or ignoring events that we feel powerless to change. We may have little influence over the circumstances that make such violence possible, but we are responsible for the way we see and treat our fellow beings. The origins of injustice and violence are in the human heart. We can commit ourselves to exposing the Spiritual Light within ourselves and practice seeing that Light in everyone, even those who commit horrific acts.
In the face of injustice, we can commit ourselves to serving those less fortunate, bringing compassion into daily interactions, and being a presence of peace where it is lacking. Sri Swami Satchidananda, the founder of Integral Yoga articulated this as follows, “Unless the human mind is freed from greed, jealousy, and hatred, there will be more and more wars. If you free your own mind of all these problems, at least that little part of the world will be free from trouble. If we want a world free from violence, we should free ourselves from every kind of violence—in thought, word, and deed. If we want a peaceful world first we must have a peaceful mind.”
Accepting what comes, in its essence, need not mean resignation. It is simply an acknowledgement that life’s events are beyond our control and often beyond our comprehension. In the face of tragedy, we can be inspired to seek a deeper source of inner stability, and from that foundation, we can dedicate our efforts to healing our piece of the collective soul of the world.