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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ahimsa - Non-Violence in Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

One of the first things we start with in yoga is Ahimsa, which means the absence of violence. Naturally, it would seem that we could use this to mean that we don't punch people or kill people. A society that practises ahimsa would for sure not be killing its citizens with capital punishment, for instance. That's sort of a big view. Sure, it's easy not to kill people everyday.

Then we take it down a level, to our words. What would it be like to have the absence of violence in our speech? Would that mean not swearing? Would that mean not yelling? Not yelling at people, again, pretty straightforward. I could not yell at anybody all day. I could even not swear, I'm thinking.  Some days that would be harder than others, of course.

Let's look at our thoughts. What would it be like to have the absence of violence in our thoughts? Does that mean we won't think bad things about other people? Not criticize, even in our minds? Would lightly editing a person be considered a type of violence? Perhaps. What about ourselves? Would having an absence of violence towards ourselves be possible while looking in a mirror in the morning? Could I refrain from thinking negative thoughts about my own plumper, aging self? These are questions only I can answer for myself. My thoughts are my own and don't always get shared.

But the body does vibrate with himsa, or violence, even when we think critical thoughts about ourselves. Just as though we were to take a violent action, the inner realms start to resonate with the frequency of negativity and begin to take on the flavour, even if it's just a hint, of the same spice that brings us violence towards others.

When you start to take a closer look at your life, you'll see that it becomes easy to notice things we think are benign, that are actually causing little sores in our subtle bodies. Sores that can ultimately cause us pain for real. Think about it. What you're thinking about matters a lot. Practising non-violence in actions, speech, and even our thoughts can be done towards others, but also and ultimately even more challenging, towards ourselves.

To explore more, please join us for Living Yoga 1, which starts Tuesday, September 21 and goes for 6  Tuesday evenings in total.