Thursday, March 29, 2007

Yoga in Lebanon

What a delight to see, amidst the welter of dreadful and not-quite-so-dreadful events reported on the BBC World News last night, the image of young Lebanese children practicing yoga under the tutelage of Indian United Nations peacekeepers in that unhappy country. The children were filmed in a restful pose, humming away contentedly, while their teacher explained, in an interview, how much they have benefited from the practice. It has gone a long way, she told us, toward healing the emotional wounds of last summer's war, and the children enjoy it enormously.

Aside from the sheer pleasure of seeing these children so engaged in the practice, I found it wonderfully satisfying to see how cultural borders can be crossed and cultural heritages merged when people of goodwill come together. Here was a class of Muslim children in a deeply disturbed country in the Middle East who were able to immerse themselves in the spiritual practice of a wholly different culture, and to benefit immensely from the experience. It says something to me about the shared understanding of what it means to be living in this human body, and about the value of paying attention to it in the particularly mindful way that yoga demands of us. It also says something about the capacity that we all have, even children, to find an inner peace amidst the turmoil the surrounds us.

A very lovely vision, and a tiny seed of hope for the future of humankind.

3 comments:

PK said...

And it's not taking away anything from thier faith, or the Qur'an, or thier belief system. Just calming them and centering them. If anything it's adding to them being well rounded...

Mark said...
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Mark said...

That's something really interesting I've encountered since I've started my college career. Here in America, we're taught that everything is dualistic. There is one right and one wrong. No grey area. In that respect it was a real challenge for me to begin studying Daoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and the like for several reasons. It wasn't Christianity, but they all seemed to have so much truth and so many wonderful things about them. I felt terrible for believing the things that they were saying because I felt like I was going against Christianity by learning from other religions.

I was then struck when I realized that it doesn't have to be dualistic like that. I can pluralistically take the good things from each belief and make them my own. If it has wisdom to it, I'd be neglegent to not learn from it. Besides, pretty much every religion resounds the same sentiment: Be a good person! They all come together in some very lovely ways and compliment each other. It's been delightful to learn from my professors, my textbooks, other literature, and you as well, Peter. Good job to those kids who have learned my lesson much earlier in life.