From Fear to Courage, From Courage to Love and Ahimsa (Non-Violence)

By Elizabeth Sostre

“Storms rage about me. I calm my heart and send out ribbons of peace – peace.” From the Yamas and Niyamas by Catharine Larsen

When one has a calm heart, they are practicing a form of non-violence, therefore sending out ribbons of peace. What does it take to attain a calm heart? What are the necessary steps to get to a place of non-violence…peace?

It is my belief that we grow up with internal storms provoked by our experiences with our relationships be it: family, friends, partners, school, work, etc.

When we don’t release our inner conflicts, it will eventually unleash, and we will unravel. This is a form of violence that many of us become accustomed to without the awareness that we can learn a different way to put out the fire within. Of course, these storms differ from one person to the next and are handled and/or mishandled according to our experiences, balance/imbalances, and growth. If we don’t take action to calm our inner storm, we will find ourselves speaking words of unkindness, using invective language toward others as well as ourselves.   

When we feel resentful, powerless, fearful, and out of balance, we expend our energy on negative emotions, thoughts, actions, and continue to be harsh with others and ourselves. How many times have you referred to yourself as stupid, thoughtless, brainless or something similar? How many times have you spoken to someone using these words? How many times have you said, “What was I thinking? What is wrong with me? How many times have you accused someone of having something wrong with them, speaking unkindly and condescendingly?

Non-violence is a practice that is overlooked by many people here in the West, however very much practiced and valued by many in the East. It is an important ethical discipline of yoga. As a yogi, coming to understand the self has made me conscious of my ways and practices. I find this philosophical and ethical practice both inspiring and intriguing.  Non-violence leaves the door in our spirit ajar, quietly inviting us to take notice of how our thoughts, actions, and reactions serve us. Having discovered the subtleties, in which I had been practicing violence toward others and myself, was a real eye-opener.

The act of non-violence is the precursor to all we aspire to achieve in our life. People become our mirror and with this experience we learn to navigate our thoughts, reactions and fears that can teach us to have a better understanding of ourselves, as we make room for growth, by seeing ourselves through others.

It is no secret that fear is the creator of violence. As we grow with a deeper sense of cognizance, expansion, and presence, we will dare to take baby steps to face our fears and, in the process, find our courage.  It is courage that breaks through the barriers and depth of our fears. We learn to live around fear, but not in it. Now that’s courage! 

Through our growth we learn to discern the fears that keep us alive versus the fears that hold us hostage, thus keeping us from living.  It is amazing how through our courage we overcome what once held us hostage, giving us the freedom to live non-violently.  What a gift! Our words, thoughts, and actions toward others are replaced with kindness, compassion, and patience. 

Courage enables us to find balance, which affords us the possibility of being our best self. Our best self comes from a place of love, self-love being the core of non-violence.  If we do not find love for ourselves, the path we walk will be an arduous one.  Non-violence is dependent on self-love, trust, and courage. When I was seeking love in others because I did not know how to find it in myself, I believed that by trying to change someone else’s shortcomings, I was helping them, but instead I was deflecting my shortcomings because I did not know where to begin with finding the courage to look at myself.

Practicing ahimsa/non-violence requires us to look within, so that when we look at others we can accept, listen quietly, make room for them to feel safe, with the possibility that through this process they will hear themselves. We get to sit with others and meet them where they are and as they are without judgment.  This is the real value of this practice.  When we truly trust others, we do not seek to change their ways, for their ways seek us to take a closer look at ourselves.

What would happen if we were to choose love over fear? When we discover courage, we can learn how to love and accept our complete self. Compassion begins to blossom in our heart, and we begin to see others with different lenses. This is where violence ends, and the practice of ahimsa/non-violence begins.


Elizabeth Sostre returned to her love for yoga and writing during the time she took ill with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, in 2009. Upon learning she could not return to her career as an educator for the Department of Education, she took time to rediscover herself.  As she continued her new journey, she developed interest in several healing modalities, which led her to becoming a Reiki master, yoga teacher, yoga/wellness retreat coordinator, life and holistic health coach, and a transformational trainer.   

She wrote her first workshop, “Living Towards Wholeness” in 2019, which she continues to facilitate and promote, as her belief is that personal growth is born through the process of both spiritual and transformative work, springing one into a state of awareness, breakthrough, and application. Her vision for the world is connection – to connect in a space of respect, love, compassion, and peace. She has a BA in English Literature/Creative Writing and went to Graduate school for Clinical Counseling. Liz is currently writing a book, Deconstructing Your Past To Live In The Present. 


  1. Yolanda wright

    Great article Sissy! I hope you continue to inspire many who struggle with violence and live in fear daily and hopefully their inner workings can be reflected in their own lives to be able to be a better version of themselves.

    I am sure your words will find its way into many homes and many hearts.

    You are still here on earth for many reasons. Your job is not done. ❤️ keep up the great work!

  2. Awilda

    Great article Liz. Some many people are not aware of their actions and why. Life throw you a lemon and you truly made it into a sweet refreshing water for all to drink. Thank you for your courage and not letting anything or anyone keep you down. Even though I’m far away you have a piece of my ❤️… strong and mighty warrior 😘

  3. Nancy Ross Rivera

    Awesome Liz! Powerful perspective towards healing ahimsa 🙌🏽✨💫😘 May your words touch many souls & spur them onto a path of healing 💜

    • Jackie

      Dearest Liz:
      Thank you for this beautiful article and for sharing your journey!


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