Election Day is almost upon us, and even if you’re one who tries to avoid the news, it’s probably impossible to ignore the mounting tension. Even otherwise fairly peaceful yogis may find it difficult to maintain a loving attitude toward “the other side” or “the other candidate” right now. (I know I do!) And yet, one of the very first teachings of yoga is ahimsa, compassion.

This yama asks us to consider the ways in which we cause harm, and that doesn’t just mean physical injury. By extension, it includes all the ways in which we are inhospitable, belittling, or mean-spirited; even to those whose values or viewpoint we do not share. (No one said it was easy.) Ahimsa asks us to contemplate where we close our hearts and consider others less worthy of respect, less American, less valuable. When we create separations like this between ourselves and others we allow ourselves to be less conscious of the way we think of them and of the way we treat them.

When you go to the polls next week, what if you smiled at someone carrying a sign for the other side? What if you imagined that they, too, love their children and want the best for them? That they, too, are doing the best they can? That they, too, want to be happy? That they, too, want to avoid suffering? Even if their reasoning may seem faulty, aren’t they worthy of our respect as human beings? Otherwise, what do we stand for? Otherwise, what’s our yoga practice been about — trying to put our foot behind our head?

Here’s a short (very informal) chanting practice video for you… “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu”. It translates as “May all beings be peaceful and happy.” What an intention that would be to hold this week — and beyond. Enjoy…

Many blessings to you and yours, and may we ALL have peace and happiness,