Ahimsa is one of the five yamas and evolves from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras denoting the eight limbs of yoga, or the eight-fold path.
Ahimsa denotes non-violence towards oneself and all others. Incorporating honest compassion and love into our daily lives, which can sometimes feel challenging indeed!
How do we incorporate ahimsa into our daily lives?
On a physical level, treat all living beings as you wish to be treated. Yet be forgiving, both to ourselves and others, as it doesn't always work out that way.
Eating food that nourishes and sustains us.
Being mindful of our body, and how we move through the world and in our practice. Do we give ourselves the opportunity to ease off and slow down when we need to? Can we happily practice with an injury without feeling frustrated or annoyed in our present state? Anyone, regardless of experience, can get disheartened when the body doesn’t ‘perform’ as we wish. Keeping ahimsa in mind as we practice yoga lets us move out of negative thoughts about the body.
On a deeper level let us contemplate the more subtle ways that we can bring this light into our life.
Be present for the thoughts that run through your mind. What is your general attitude to yourself and others? Thoughts and emotions naturally flow through the mind, the thoughts (and emotions) themselves don't necessarily cause harm. However, holding onto them and letting them repeat again and again in your mind is what can, in the end, turn into actions or words of violence. Start to practice simply observing your thoughts instead of reacting to them. Cultivate an awareness of your own thoughts to find if there are hints of violence against yourself or others in your life. Awareness doesn't mean reaction, though. You don't need to push these thoughts away, just recognise them. Observe as they come into your consciousness, and then watch as they leave.
Bring compassion into all your thoughts, words and deeds. Living compassionatly means we have the emotional resilience to accept events as they are, with an open heart. Letting go of reacting in a negative way and replacing those feelings with kindness and acceptance. Seek to understand others, rather than judge them.
Yoga gives us the chance to practice non-violence in our body and minds at the same time. While tuning in to your body, simultaneously start to watch as your thoughts form.
Let go of expectations of what you should do. Let go of the need to berate yourself with negative, violent thoughts. When we do this, our bodies respond to love we give ourselves. Instead of bringing in those negative emotions and working against us, our bodies start working with us.
So, lets start to walk in the right direction. This may be taking tiny baby steps initially, especially if we habitially live in a spiral of negative thougths or feelings. Sometimes we can only have the intention, and the actual reality feels very different, but this a good enough place to start. We can only start from where we are…
So shine some love into your life, write a list of what you love to do, who you love to be with, and what you love and embrace about your self, and ensure, no matter how stressed, busy…(chose your own excuse!) that you let some of this love into your life. Treat yourself like your own best friend.
Big love x x x x