Can you practice three days of non-violence? Sounds relatively easy, right? But, when we look more closely, we may realize there are countless ways that we cause ourselves and others harm on a daily basis. That seems hard to believe!
As yogis we strive to live a life of kindness and compassion….toward others, but what about toward ourselves? How many times a day to you participate in negative self talk? “Oh, those pants look so awesome on her, they would look terrible on me.” Or, “I hate my hair.” Or,“ I made the stupidest mistake.”
Without even knowing it we have acted in a harmful way. We have diminished our self worth and dimmed our own light.
Yoga philosophy offers us a ten-step guide called the yamas and the niyamas. This guides helps us to calibrate our moral compass. The first of these ten steps is the concept of Ahimsa, or non-violence.
Try this, for the next three days pay very close attention to the ways in which you violate the principle of Ahimsa. The purpose of this is to witness the many facets of this concept and how it applies, to not only daily living, but also our relationship with our selves and our environment.
Use the following questions as reflections to help understand and recognize the concept of Ahimsa.
In what ways do you harm yourself or others?
Through what thoughts, actions and speech do you violate Ahimsa?
In what environments are you more likely to violate the principle of non-harming?
How much time to you spend in these environments and how can you neutralize the experience with Ahimsa?
Is there a touchstone, mantra or awareness that you can engage to support Ahimsa feelings, actions and speech?
Over the next three days, without judgment, please observe, then honor and then activate the essence of ahimsa. In the absence of harming, there is peace. Remember, the concept of non-violence is all pervasive and one of the most fundamental principles of yoga and most world religions/philosophies.
In light and reverence,
To learn more about the concept of Ahimsa check out the book, Patanjalis Yoga Sutras, translated by Eknath Easwaran. There are many different translations of this text but I have been using Easwaran’s in my teacher training for the last ten years. Sutra number 29 in book II of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras lists the ten yamas and niyamas.