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The Yamas - Ahimsa - Non-violence

What does non-violence means for you? Do you prefer a different name than non-violence - perhaps non-harming or non-hurting feels warmer...

It is clear that from a yogic perspective is stands at the heart of a yogic approach to living.

From the outside in, non-violence can appear to be passive, subtle – what does it really mean?


Sometimes we can easily look at this and say ok as humans, we could say that non-violence means I will not kill or physical harm anyone. As yogis and humans this commitment comes easy and we could then say not just humans but living beings, or in some way we may choose to eat consciously or choose a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.


The examples above are tangible examples of non-violence. What about the more subtle ones?


Feeling hurried, afraid, powerless, out of balance, unforgiving, we may speak words of unkindness or unkind thoughts, or we could even lash out.


Could our ability to be non-violent with others be related to our ability to be non-violent with ourselves?


How to develop our skills?


Facing our fears


The current environment is a great example of how fear can affect us all and the behaviour of those around us. In some it can inspire us to become compassionate and reach out to care for those who could be vulnerable in other it can cause a complete emotional closure, detachment, protectionism, possessions e.g., panic buying – unkind words and gestures – it’s all about me.


Fear is the root of greed, control, and violence.


Obviously, some fear is healthy as it helps us stay alive, but there is also a fear that prevents us from living.


Fear can cause us to fantasise about events that have not happened and spiral us into a repetitive though process that does not serve us. It can create enemies that do not exist.


So, fear can create a form of violence to ourselves and others – in thought word and deed.


So, we need the courage to walk into our fears – we need to put ourselves out of our comfort zones – so that the instinctual side of us can be shown ‘see that wasn’t so bad, we are still alive’…


We need to face out fears, try and do some that challenge us. That is why sadhana is great, it provides us with the courage to keep going, cold showers – doing something we do not really want to do first thing in the morning…


Staying with life when it gets difficult, learn in the moment, and then adapt accordingly…use the energy of fear to propel us to the best version of ourselves…


Finding the middle path


Imbalance can cause issues – imbalance can cause disease. Balance creates a sense of harmony.


Finding the work life balance, having a balanced approach to the spiritual journey – not fanatical. Balanced eating / drinking. Balanced approach to rest and sleep.


However, creating balance for us as humans can be a challenge. Our lower selves tend to enjoy the sense pleasures of life and we find ourselves bouncing around from high to low, one chemical to another…these pleasures promise us to fulfil us and never do…therefore we need a balanced approach- the ability to enjoy the things of the world and to remain unattached to them.


If we are not balanced with our time, we can spend our time living our lives for others. We spread ourselves too thin and we end up suffering. It is important we create the time to breathe and rest. Find time for ourselves and the important people in our lives. Space to reflect, journal, space for us to fill ourselves with prana and listen to the soul.


Balance comes from being non-violent to ourselves and others through being respectful of balance within us and without us. To do this we need to find space and time to find the inner voice, cultivate an approach and habit where we can flexibly create this mindset and tune into us. This inner voice knows exactly what we need and when…


Staying in the now – merging with the challenge


We can often feel challenged – normally it’s because of looking into the past and looking into the future. Second guessing what the other person meant. Using the lenses of perception based upon experiences to make judgements. What if we stayed in the now?


When we feel powerless, can we shift the feeling that we have into a set of choices – rather than feeling that we have choices, we always have a choice, in some way. It might be that we cannot change something straight away in that moment, but can we make plans and take baby steps moment by moment to take our power back.


If you cannot love yourself then how can you love anyone else?


How do you feel about yourself? How kindly do you speak of yourself – if you are critical of yourself then it is possible you are critical of others. If you are a taskmaster then you are a taskmaster with others. If you are light hearted and forgiving then you are likely to be light hearted and forgiving with others. What we do to others really comes back to us.

Love lies at the core of non-violence.


When we find love for all parts of ourselves. When we look at ourselves with honest eyes, and say yes, this is me now. I make peace with all that has happened and all that could happen. I am part of this great mystery called life with everyone else, and I accept my strengths and weakness exactly as they are. I forgive myself and I forgive others.


When we can be in this space, we completely relax our load and relax the burden.


If we are not able to self-love unconditionally, then we can get caught in a trap of trying to fix ourselves over and over again – a never ending circle of ‘I’m not good enough, because it will never be enough’ – accept yourself as you are now, love yourself and feel yourself expand!


Live from the heart


Living from the heart is something that we are encouraged to do as yogis. We do exercises to open the heart, there are specific kriyas for it. However, we could do a thousand kriyas but we still need consciously make the decision to live from that space; intention is incredibly important.


We need to have the courage to see reality as it is, and we choose to love regardless of that.

We move towards loving ourselves and others without trying to change them.


We live and act with kindness and allow others’ lives to be as important as our own.


Compassion moves us from our boundaries and moves into new spaces that we did not think we could move into. All powered by love. It forgets itself in times of need.


Can the God in our eyes see the God in the eyes of others?


If we could remember that, or at least bring that into our consciousness on a day-to-day basis, imagine the possibilities for our relationships with those we know and do not know.


To conclude a few simple ideas with which to cultivate the practice of Ahimsa in your daily lives;


1. Do one thing each day that challenges you and your ego. Step outside the comfort zone - baby steps.


2. Are you a worrier or a fixer? Discern the difference between help and support? Do you avoid things in your own life by distracting yourself with other peoples lives.


3. What do you need? How can you find balance for yourself? Listen to the messages your body and intuition gives you. Journal the experience for a week and reflect about this each day to see what messages are being subtly provided to you from within. This could be from a spiritual practice perspective, food, sleep, exercise, work etc.


4. Be complete. No expectations, no criticisms, no judgements, nothing to change. No competition, no comparison – your perfect


Sat Nam x



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