Yoga Journal Blog: Cambodia Yoga Challenge


Subscribe to this blog


Via FeedBurner

More Yoga Journal Blogs

Yoga Buzz
The latest in yoga news

Active Yogi
Using yoga to perform better and stay injury-free

Beginner's Mind
Humbly learning yoga one lesson at a time

Challenge Pose
Take your practice to the next level with awe inspiring asana

Conscious Cook
Celebrating healthful cooking and beautiful food

Enlightened Motherhood
Gracefully juggling the joys of parenthood and yoga

Green Life
Take your practice off the mat with these easy green pointers and products

Top Five Tuesdays
Just for fun, find yoga in the small things

Yoga Diary
Reflections on yoga from our editors




Archives

« The Journey is the Goal by Suzanne Sterling | Blog HomePage | Impressions from the Killing Fields and S21 by Jude Monteserrato »

Domestic Peace by Suzanne Sterling

n550670343_5857765_4372.jpg


Loka samastha sukhino bhavantu - May all beings be happy

One of the most profound meditations I have ever learned is the application of this prayer, first to one's beloveds, then to the world at large, and finally to one's enemies - an alchemical act of transformation with far-reaching consequences – most profoundly for myself.

I am back in Cambodia... a country which experienced a devastating genocide of over 2 million people in 4 years... the effects of which are still lingering in a culture where, for the poorest at least, domestic violence is still rampant, until recently still legal and currently goes unprosecuted.

I came here last August as an advance trip to prepare myself to co-facilitate this journey for the 20 trip participants. We will be taking them to S21 - the school that was turned into a torture chamber and is now a museum filled with pictures of the victims (taken by the Khmer Rouge) in a gruesome array of suffering. We will be visiting the killing fields where the victims were taken and beaten to death (bullets were too scarce) before being thrown into a pit, and where, as the rains erode the layers of dirt you are literally walking upon the bones, teeth and clothing of the dead. We will be visiting the Steung Meanchey Dump where many families live in squalor and children work entire days retrieving items for recycling and are subject to sinkholes, toxic fumes and predators of all kinds.

It is in this place of destitution and poverty that domestic violence is highest. There has long been a history of the oppressed becoming the oppressors yet it is still so difficult to make sense of the situation.

Part of our goal in creating the OTM programs was to offer a template for taking full responsibility for the state of the world; recognizing that the most important activism we can take on is the awareness of our own internal warfare and that we must begin to take responsibility for the change we are looking for by changing ourselves first. And as a child of domestic violence myself, I have to ask myself where that violence lives inside of me. Where am I still attacking myself or others (in thought or deed)? Where am I still living in such deep fear for my survival that I am willing to perpetuate violence?

Yoga and specifically sacred activism, asks us to take a good hard look at the world inside us and to begin to create a program for domestic peace by making those choices ourselves...in every moment of our lives. Just as the ancient prayer extends out to not only our loved ones, but also to our enemies, we begin to find ways to accept and integrate the enemy within so that we become more well rounded, more integrated and more aware - perhaps the ultimate goal of the yoga practice.

How can we wrap our minds and hearts around such things as genocide, torture and warfare? By seeing them for what they are - deep seated fear and greed, and just like Ghandi who faced the beating stick over and over again with a profound understanding of the power of non-violent action, we face our own inner oppressor over and over again with understanding, courage, and the passion of compassion. Only then will we begin to see subtle shifts in perception, thought and ultimately in deed, which, according to the ancient Indian Upanishads (sacred texts) is the seed of our destiny.

My hope for this Seva Challenge is that we make that sacred connection between our inner and outer worlds and begin to realize the power of our compassionate hearts and minds to discern ultimate truths from the illusions that keep us trapped in fear and cycles of violence. This act of discernment can create great change and perhaps even bring us to a state of domestic peace in a world beyond war. - Suzanne Sterling

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://blogs.yogajournal.com/blognew/mt-tb.cgi/872

Comments

Suzanne,

Thank you for the poignant commentary on Cambodia, the work that you are doing there, and powerful reminder that peace begins within.

Namaste

Frank

Suzanne,

I am standing wiith you in your vision of a world where people understand the inner creation of genocide, torture, and greed.

You are doing the same work as Ghandi now. Bless you.

Marianne

Namaste Suzanne,
Thank you and OTM for your commitment, impact, and brave example of compassionate SEVA! Powerful...Inspiring...Blessings...

Tatiana



Subscribe and
Get 2 Free Issues
+ 2 Free Gifts!

Give a Gift »

Join Yoga Journal's Benefits Plus

Join Yoga Journal's Benefits Plus Liability insurance and benefits to support teachers and studios.

Learn More »

Enter to Win Great Prizes!

Enter to Win Great Prizes! Enter the latest Yoga Journal sweepstakes for your chance to win fabulous prizes!

Enter Now »
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email (req):

If I like Yoga Journal and decide to continue, I'll pay just $16.95, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 62% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.