Let’s talk Ahimsa.
Ahimsa is the first if the of Yamas discussed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It’s a sanskrit word meaning to not cause harm or violence to yourself, to others, and animals in thoughts or action.
This is not just the physical act of harm, but even wishing harm or misfortune on others is not in line with ahimsa.
Practicing ahimsa is the root of the spiritual practice of yoga. All of our actions create an impression in our psyche and the universe. Making the conscious choice for loving and positive action is the first step of practicing ahimsa.
As I was cooking dinner last night, the thought of an old friend came to mind. We don’t talk or see each other very much anymore, and there’s just been a disconnection. Because of this, I noticed that my thought patterns were negative towards this person.
I caught myself right in the act. This is NOT ahimsa.
In that instant, I took a minute and thought of three things amazing about this person, and then I felt relief.
Negative thoughts and actions are a reflection of how we live our lives and treat ourselves. With that knowledge, I have no choice but to take responsibility. It’s up to me to find a solution that will lead to happiness in every situation.
Here are some ways we can practice Ahimsa:
1. Eat a plant based/vegetarian diet:
We are all sentient beings. Animals have consciousness, and also feel emotions such as pain, fear, sadness, and excitement.
When we consume animals, we are also consuming the fear, pain, and depression that animal felt up to that point. That all becomes a part of us. Even if the animal is living in a cage-free zone, or on a farm where they are set free to roam, they are still being pulled from their happy life and killed in an unnatural, and in most cases, a devastating way.
In addition, it’s bad for the environment. Factory farming is one of the biggest causes of global warming.
Someone said to me a few days ago, “I think eating meat is better than eating that fake meat.” I have to disagree. This isn’t a health issue, but the choice should be ethical. Once you make that ethical choice, you’re aligning yourself with ahimsa.
2. Be Good to the Earth:
Try to live each day as environmentally friendly as possible.
- Take walks and bike rides instead of using a car.
- Bring cloth or plastic reusable bags whenever you go grocery shopping, and reuse containers.
- Support local businesses, and shop at the local farmers markets, or produce shops.
It’s great to support the local community, and better on the environment because there’s less transportation causing less pollution. When food travels over a period of time it looses it’s freshness and organic qualities.
Your body will thank you because the food from local farmers is fresh, so you know it was all tended to with love.
3. Change your internal dialogue:
We get so mad when others gossip or say negative things about us, but how often do we talk badly to ourselves? How often do you doubt yourself, talk yourself out of something because you feel you’re not good enough, or even wish that you looked different? This has to stop.
The more you get stuck in this pattern of self-destruction you create impressions that will keep you from living up to our full potential. Next time this happens, turn that thought around right away.
Your thoughts are not you, so just try to observe, and then laugh at your silly monkey mind. (Check out my 30 day Happiness Journaling Challenge if you’re interested in working deeper on this).
4. Explore negative thoughts and judgement towards others:
Like my first example above; when you feel anger or negativity about others, it’s really a reflection of something deeper within. Maybe you’re mad at someone from an old relationship where you were treated badly?
The anger stems from the fact that you let them treat you that way. Exploring deeper into that; Why did I let them treat me that way for so long? The answer might not come quickly, but just continuing to explore these things will lead to fruition.
Learning to treat yourself with ahimsa is the first step, and then your compassion will grow towards others.
- Give compliments.
- Try to make someone else smile. It will make you smile too!
- Say what you’re grateful for when you wake up and, say what you’re thankful for as you reflect on the day before you go sleep.
Incorporate these aspects into your daily life and see how everything changes!
Homework Time… (Yes!)
How do you practice Ahimsa? How do you turn a negative situation into a positive one?
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To open hearts & happy thoughts,