Ahimsa means non-violence and compassion. Before you read this blog, take a moment to think: How might you be practicing non-compassion towards yourself? In what ways do you show compassion towards others?
Alright, now it may seem like I’m about to spew a bunch of foreign words at you and you might think ‘I am not interested in learning a foreign language today’… but hold on, there is a reason. Using the Hindu words (yama, ahimsa, etc.) gives respect to their roots, and in my eyes, it’s an honor to share this practice of yoga with so many great philosophers before us such as Patanjali and Buddha.
The first word we should cover is yama, which means regulation, control and restraint. Yamas can be thought of as ethical practices or social observances that require us to tune inward to discover our true self. Every moment and in every interaction, be it with another being or even with yourself, these social observances can be practiced. Ahimsa is the first of the five yamas.
Ahimsa means non-violence and compassion, towards yourself and others, in thought, word, and action. We would all like to think that we are non-violent, but I bet you can you think of a recent time when you had a rude or judgmental thought towards someone? It’s OK, it’s part of being human, but the awareness around the behavior is what’s important and how we practice. Ahimsa is being forgiving with others and ourselves when mistakes are made, like forgiving ourselves for having that judgmental thought. Ahimsa is letting go of that which does not serve us. It means not dwelling on the negatives and acknowledging that there is a greater flow of life that is out of our control. What we can control is our compassionate response. We practice ahimsa when we accept and make the best of our situations. It is the choice, in each and every moment, to choose the higher road that betters yourself, your friends, and society as a whole.
On a more macro level, we can practice ahimsa in the personal choices we make when we spend money on fashion and food. For example, are you buying fast-fashion and tossing clothes quickly into landfills? Are you buying food that was grown locally, or shipped from another country?
The next four blogs will be on the other four yamas, or yogic ethical practices; satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacarya (right use of energy) and aparigraha (non-grasping). Follow along as we explore these insightful topics.
Ahimsa Mantra: I am responsible for my thoughts, words, and actions.
Comment below and share your experiences practicing compassion in instances where you once might not have, and how that made you feel afterwards.
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