I have known of Day One in the time I’ve lived in Providence. I have seen the signs as I have visited Wayland Square for shopping and socializing. A friend worked for a time as an advocate for victims seeking services and support. The work is fundamental to community – to empowering victims of deeply intimate crimes, and working to prevent future occurrences of violence.
In studying yogic philosophy, and in practicing yoga as a framework for life, a student will undoubtedly come upon Patañjali’s 8 Fold Path. Also often known as the 8 Limbs of Yoga, it is made up of the yamas (external ethical disciplines), the niyamas (internal observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breath work), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (single point of concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadi (oneness or union).
Focusing on the yamas, external ethical principles to guide ones’ interactions with individuals and the collective, there is direct correlation between the work of Day One and the practice of these social guidelines. From the Yoga Sutras, where the yamas are introduced:
2.30 The five external disciplines are not harming, truthfulness, not stealing, celibacy, and not being acquisitive.
2.31 These universals, transcending birth, place, era, or circumstance, constitute the great vow of yoga.
2.33 Unwholesome thoughts can be neutralized by cultivating wholesome ones.
2.34 We ourselves may act upon unwholesome thoughts, such as wanting to harm someone, or we may cause or condone them in others; unwholesome thoughts may arise from greed, anger, or delusion; they may be mild, moderate, or extreme; but they never cease to ripen into ignorance or suffering. This is why one must cultivate wholesome thoughts.
“The external disciplines, or yamas, are the way we yoke ourselves in relation to the world. This includes not only objects but also beings. Thus, the yamas guide our actions toward the benefit of all life. However, the “great vow” is not so much altruistic as practice, as Patañjali explains below, for the yamas benefit the individual at least as much as society, with each of its aspects bringing us around toward equanimity and insight by eliminating a set of distractions….For this reason, the yamas must not be thought of as moral commandments but as skillful ways to relate to the world without adding to its suffering or ours.” (Hartranft, p. 33-34)
Day One brings the practice of the yamas to life – both for individual victims as well as our society at large. The advocacy and public health work shines a light on the “unwholesome thoughts” and behaviors and works to cultivate wholesome thoughts through education, outreach, and therapeutic and legal services. Their work transcends gender, age, socioeconomics, geography, orientation, or any other qualifying characteristic. Their great yogic vow is to cultivate peace, healing, and independence. In its purest form, the Day One staff are yogis sharing their own version of the great vow of cultivating equanimity where there has been imbalance and violence, and cultivating equanimity where there is opportunity for neutralization, prevention and education. Efforts are as much about treatment of the individual and the collective, as they are about educating and creating wholesome possibilities. The work decreases suffering and realigns the energies of darkness toward the light.
I recently attended the Dine for Day One fundraising event. A portion of the event was a speaking program with notes from the Executive Director and volunteers. We heard of the collective work, and individual work, with young, and often adolescent, victims. 70% of Day One clients are children and are served through the Children’s Advocacy Center. This includes young people who have been sold into prostitution and are as young as 11 – 14 years old, as well as victims of sexual abuse and trauma. The professionals at Day One work to create a child-friendly space to counter the horrific brutality of abuse, and offer a space for children, adolescents, and their non-offending caregivers to unravel the effects of their exploitation. Through Day One, these children and adolescents are offered an opportunity to work toward healing with the hope.
Their mission, vision and services description is abundant with the ethical constructs outlined in the yamas. From their website (www.dayoneri.org):
Our mission at Day One is to reduce the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence as well as to support and advocate for those affected by it.
Day One's vision is to create a community that is free of sexual abuse and violence. We do this through leadership and action that is responsive to the needs of the community.
What We Do
Day One is the only agency in Rhode Island that is specifically organized to deal with issues of sexual assault as a community concern. We provide treatment, intervention, education, advocacy, and prevention services to Rhode Islanders of all ages—from preschool children to elder adults. Additionally, we advocate for public policy initiatives and systemic changes that positively impact how Rhode Island families handle sexual abuse cases.
Our comprehensive services include:
24-hour Helpline and legal advocacy
Law enforcement advocacy programs
Individual and group counseling
Professional training sessions
Prevention education workshops
From sexual assault on college campuses to the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), Day One is addressing the issues that are affecting Rhode Island communities and leading the effort to provide real solutions for both victims and those at risk.
This is the purest manifestation of the yamas.
I believe we, as a community, owe a debt of gratitude to those who toil every day and night to bring justice and peace to victims, to bring understanding and advocacy to greater societal plagues, and to bring forth means of preventing future ills. To the staff, volunteers, financial contributors, clinicians, teachers, facilitators, victims past, present, and future, and overall supporters of Day One, I offer:
The Divine in me honors the Divine in you. I bow with humble respect and gratitude to the Divine in you. When you are in that Divine place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are one.
We are one with the unraveling of the darkness, and the growth toward the light. We are one in the opportunity to manifest beauty and love.
References to the Yoga Sutras and Patañjali’s 8 Fold Path are from:
Hartranft, Chip.The yoga-sutra of Patañjali: A new translation with commentary. Shambala Publications: Boston, 2003.