“Ahimsa is one of the five yamas, which are the ethical, moral and societal guidelines for yogis. Ahimsa can be distilled into a practice of non-violence in all aspects of life, from the physical to the mental and emotional.”Dorna Djenab – What is Ahimsa and How to Practice It in Everyday Life
In a recent counseling session, my counselor told me I needed to practice Ahimsa (AH-him-sah). I was talking about how inferior I felt to a new group of people I had met and even called myself dumb. I told her I’ve been feeling like a fraud lately and like I can hardly practice what I preach. Carolyn, my counselor, was not impressed with me saying that about myself.
Carolyn recently finished her 200 hour yoga teacher training and is all about using her yoga practice in her counseling sessions. She gave me a brief overview of Ahimsa and told me to do some research and practice it. How difficult can it be, right?
Wrong. Ahimsa is so much more than practicing non-violence. It’s a way of life. It’s about being kind and forgiving to yourself and others. It’s about being humbled by the path you’re on, and the paths others are on, as well. It’s about being non-violent to yourself and others through being kind and compassionate. It’s about loving unconditionally and wholly.
I’m not very nice to myself in my head, and I’ve been in my head a lot lately. Seasonal depression has its claws sunk in deep and it’s taking every fiber of my being to keep going. I got this though. Why? Because I’m going to be learning about Ahimsa and how practicing it daily can change my life.
One way I learned that I currently use this practice in my life is by choosing to be a vegetarian. I have multiple reasons for not eating meat, and one of them is to prevent animal cruelty. I don’t believe in large farms stuffing cages full of chickens and other animals just for the mass production of food. I believe in small, local, and backyard farms. I believe in eating a vegetarian diet to stop the killing of animals. To me, it’s not fair to sacrifice a life so I can benefit from that sacrifice. I’d rather love my backyard chickens, eat their fresh eggs, and live harmoniously with nature and all her beautiful creatures.
Another way I can practice Ahimsa is through yoga. While practicing you can take the time to reflect inward and listen to your inner voice. What is it saying? Is it kind? Take a moment to assess what you’re saying. If there is violence towards you or others, notice it. Don’t push it away or try to forget about it. Digest the thought. What does it mean to you? Is this a reflection of yourself? In your physical practice, when getting into a yoga pose, do so lightly and with mindfulness. Don’t force yourself. Get to where you can that day and humbly accept where you are at. Do so with ease and grace. You are exactly where you need to be.
Practicing Ahimsa is going to be a challenge for me, but I’m ready and willing to accept. It’s time to love myself fully and treat myself the way I deserve to be treated.
I’m wondering, have any of our readers heard of Ahimsa before? If so, how do you practice it in your daily life? If not, is this something you’d be interested in doing for yourself? Let us know why and what you plan to do.
Thank you for reading today’s post. I hope you are all able to find ways to practice non-violence in your mental, physical, and spiritual lives.