Yoga became my way of coping and eventually I realized I could serve the world by sharing tools for peace of mind better than I could by stridently objecting to the military-industrial complex. In the process of becoming a whole, happy person, I gradually became a more positive influence on the world around me.

Consider this report on the epidemic of stress in 2021. The CDC estimates that stress is a causal factor in an estimated 80 percent of primary care doctor visits. This is only getting worse with the pandemic. I’m grateful that Integral Yoga gave me the tools to train stress management teachers.

One reason for what people regard as police misconduct is the non-stop stress of their job and not having the tools or the managerial support to cope in a healthy way. You can’t make accurate assessments of a situation if your internal state is on constant high-alert for danger. One retired police officer, Justin Boardman, recently reported in the Washington Post: “We are scared to death out there. We all experience trauma on a daily basis. And it builds up. We are not taught how to chisel that plaque off our beings. We are not given those tools, and it is not part of the culture, so you start treating the public badly.”

Supporting the police to build resilience in the face of stress would be one small way to help create a cheerful, service-oriented police force. If we could also help at-risk populations cope with their day-to-day trauma through stress reductions skills, we would probably see more peaceful interactions all around.

I know this is one small piece of a complex challenge. I’m profoundly grateful to those who can think and function on a large scale to tackle big problems. The world desperately needs those visionaries. It’s just not what I’m called to do. My path is: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can,” which is a quote by the great Arthur Ashe. This attitude reduces my stress, and helps me know that I can do something meaningful to help resolve the many crises I see in the world.

If ever you find your good will turning into frustration, sit down and breathe deeply and gently for a full minute. This one practice alone can help you be a presence of peace in your small part of the world. Then you can share that peace with someone in need.

PROGRAM NOTE: Swami Vidyananda and Swami Ramananda will be teaching Stress Management Teacher Training via Yogaville Online from August 8 – October 3, 2021 (weekly: Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays). This virtual training and certification program is open to Yoga teachers and health professionals who wish to gain the essential skills and confidence to teach Yoga as stress management in a wide variety of environments, including the workplace, healthcare facilities, schools, and Yoga studios. Register here.

About the Author:

Swami Vidyananda, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT, has enjoyed many different roles in her life, including radio news reporter, translator for Swami Satchidananda, and video producer. She is a senior monk who has received training as a hospital chaplain. She has been teaching Integral Yoga since 1972. She is a versatile teacher, who helped develop the Integral Yoga Stress Management Teacher Training program. She specializes in workshops on stress management as well as Yoga and the emotions. Swami Vidyananda has taught in the US, Canada, Europe, India, and Australia. For more information, please visit: