When I was a first grade teacher working in the inner city in Brooklyn, teaching about Martin Luther King filled me with extreme emotion every time. I would always cry reading my favorite book – My Dream of Martin Luther King by Faith Ringgold.
The kids would always ask me “Why are you crying Ms. Rosen?”
Such an important life cut short, especially in the way that he died, just tore me apart. He lost his life to the violence that he was speaking out about.
I would read this story to the children, knowing they were living in an environment that was as opposite of peace as it gets. They lived in a world filled with guns, drugs, violence & fear. It was one of my favorite lessons of the year. How can we become more peaceful in our thoughts, words & actions?
That was over 12 years ago. I think about my students a lot, hoping that some of them took to heart what I was trying to instill in them, not only with the MLK teachings, but with the yoga that I was doing with them as well.
Let’s start this new year with a focus on peace- and how we can share that with the little ones in our life. How can we learn to speak to each other respectfully, treat each other with kindness and love ourselves implicitly?
At the end of my classes we always sing the song “om shanti shanti peace” and then we give ourselves a hug and say “I Love Myself.”
This is the first step right there- teaching our kids to love themselves first, which in yoga is called ahimsa (non-violence or non-harming).
Love yourself, then love your family, your friends, your teachers, and then bring it out to your community and the world around you.