Ahimsa sounds like wind, a soft sigh or breath,
the way wheat moves in a field
or the way sun warms the body.
Ahimsa is the ocean waving to the shore,
the dance of water and land,
a continuous invitation
of movement. Ahimsa is outside
and inside, it is blood
circulating through the body.
Ahimsa is rhythm and song,
the sound and the vessel where
sound lands. Ahimsa is eating
and not eating. Ahimsa is the treasured map,
not the jeweled chest, the one that guides,
but not the arrival. It is the light, like the one in a dark café,
the one that helps you find your page
or your place. Ahimsa is the word you write, or say when
you need to find meaning. Ahimsa is the breath
that whispers in your ear, that inner voice or teacher
who tells you, you are loved.
for Barbara and Danny
How do you hold without taking,
the way a vase embraces bouquet,
all the beauty we cut for our own
from this earth.
Which ones of us the planters
and the reapers,
Who among us not a stem,
budding with desire,
and how easy to pluck the blossom,
without hearing her story,
and which relationship isn’t a vessel
capable of being shattered,
capable of being filled.
How similar the sound of water
whether it is dancing down
a rocky cliff or swirling
through the sewer system.
Two different worlds or the same?
Close your eyes, close
your eyes. Tell me now,
what is beautiful?
Is it your breath
or the ocean inside the shell
of your heart,
and who is that whispering
in the tiny house
of your ear?
Our bodies are made up of over 70% water and so if we look at the world with this fact in mind, then the skin is the only thing that separates us from all the other water out there. And imagine if the skin wasn’t there. Perhaps then we can begin to see how fluid and interconnected our water is to all other water. Both my yoga and writing practices remind me of my likeness and my connection to the world around me. It was in fact, while editing the newsletter for my yoga studio that I learned about the oil spill (I don’t have tv and admittedly don’t read the news online as much as I should). And so there I was editing a statement about Avidya (Ignorance/Forgetting), the philosophical focus of the month at Jaya Yoga Center in Brooklyn, completely ignorant to what was happening out in the world. The point that Carla, the studio owner, was arguing is that we need to see more clearly. Even though we know what can happen from drilling in the ocean, we still do. I quickly googled and caught up, so now, at least, I was informed. I know that these poems are only like a small stone tossed in water, making small ripples to those concerned enough to care, but it is my hope that if we all toss our small stones in, eventually, we’ll create a wave that will inspire, transform, and bring change.
Carly Sachs is a writer, educator, and Kripalu-Certiﬁed yoga instructor who specializes in using the practice to help those who are dealing with trauma. Drawing on her Jewish roots, Carly strives to adhere to the principle of Tikkun Olam, Hebrew for “repairing the world.” The poems here are from her chapbook, Yama Niyama, a series of poems based on yogic principles. She is the author of the steam sequence (Washington Writers’ Publishing House, 2006) and the editor of the why and later (Deep Cleveland Press, 2007).