When I was 9, my dad took me on a GRAND adventure…we left our South Dakota home to fly to Bombay, India. From Bombay, we rode an open-air bus 50 miles to Ganeshpuri, India.
We arrived at an ashram where people from all over the world came together in a communal living facility to study meditation, chanting, service and study.

I lived there for four months.


Photo courtesy of Claus Oronoz

When we arrived, they separated us for dinner – men on one side, women on the other. Imagine that you’re 9, you’re hungry, you’re jet-lagged and you’re surrounded by strangers. You’d kind of want your parent no? I freaked out.
My dad calmly said, “It’s ok Sarah. You’ll be fine. See? Everyone is smiling at you. I’ll see you after we eat by those doors there.”
I was crying and upset, but off I went with the smiling women. My mind was racing, “What is this food? There aren’t any tables! How do you eat with no silverware? Can I drink the water? How do you sit and eat on the floor? What are they saying?”
Ahimsa invites us into those moments of powerlessness to take a step away from our panic. Because powerlessness invariably results in violence towards self and others.
When do you feel powerless? What causes you to feel without any choice or control?

  • Losing your wallet, phone, keys
  • Being late
  • Car breaking down
  • Someone steals and uses your credit card
  • You get lost
  • __(fill in the blank)__

How do you react? Your mind is screaming and racing. Your body is hot, tensed and sweaty. You are most definitely off-your-center. There might even be some yelling and crying. A cat in a corner. Fight or flight.
What Ahimsa invites us to remember even under extreme duress, is that there are always options.
In “The Yamas & Niyamas, ” Deborah Adele writes that she uses these tools to reframe Powerlessness:

  • Have faith that the Universe will care for you and provide what you need.
  • Find simple gratitude within the moment of difficulty.
  • Find a way to connect with and/or serve another human being.

Using these practices can give you a bit of space from what you’re feeling and experiencing and provide a longer view, a different perspective. It can be a roadmap back to your center.
You might even find that you learn some tools and become more capable of dealing with stressors.
“Feelings of powerlessness become opportunities to become competent rather than violent,” Adele writes.

Craig & Sarah Pictures 048My dad’s attempt at a passport photo. I was channeling my inner Danny Bonaduce.
Back in India, the women in their beautiful white cotton saris smiled warmly and welcomed me with sweet voices that I heard deeply, but didn’t understand at all. Their soft eyes were so tender and loving that I guess I just got out of my own way; my fears fell away.
I trustingly fell into the arms of the Universe.
Because in the end, aren’t we all meant to be the arms of the Universe for each other??
Namaste, Sarah