What is Ahimsa?
Non-violence is kindness and compassion for all.
As the first Yama (ethical and moral guidelines for yogis), non-violence is the practice of not harming anyone or thing and that goes for all aspects of life, from the physical to the mental and emotional. We experience violence every day in subtle ways through our actions, responses and even our own inner thoughts.
When our thoughts have negative responses like disappointment, guilt or shame, we are inadvertently creating violence. If you can't forgive someone or forgive yourself for a wrongdoing, it becomes an act of violence because it pushes love away.
Learning how to love deeply and also to accept love is an important aspect of non-violence. However, this is impossible to do if you choose to ignore certain traits held in yourself. Thoughts will naturally flow into and out of your mind but when you hold onto negative thoughts and allow them to repeat themselves is when they cause harm. Through mindfulness we can learn to observe our thoughts and let them go.
This mental practice is for everyone. Even at the peak of health, you can still have thoughts that affect your wellbeing. It's those negative thoughts that send a message to the body that trigger the fight or flight response. This is what secretes cortisol (stress hormone) which lowers the immune system and makes it more likely to experience physical pain and sickness.
By practicing this aspect of yoga, you are consciously creating an inner world of love and peace to extend to the external world.
Ask yourself this, are you nice and compassionate to other living beings? If the answer is yes, then congratulations! You have already been living a yogic lifestyle. If the answer is anything other than yes, here are some affirmations to try during your next meditation themed to practice non-violence.
- I send compassionate thought and healing to those in need.
- I naturally relate to others with love and understanding.