The first of the Eight Limbs of Yoga - the ‘Yamas’ (‘moral precepts’) has 5 branches, begins with ~ ‘Ahimsa’ (‘non-violence’). The greatest examples of the power of Ahimsa are Ghandi and the Dalai Lama each living with their view that violence begets violence, only peace contributes to a peaceful world. Both demonstrating that the peace-walker’s path is not for the feint hearted. The 5 Yamas and 5 Niyamas are relatable to the 10 Commandments, but Ahimsa isn’t simply the equivalent to “Thall Shalt not Kill” ~ it embodies our daily choices, actions and even our words.
The more we cultivate peace within ourselves the more we spread it out to those around us. Even subtle levels of violence that have become socially accepted such as harsh language, harmful gossip and judgement, contribute to the disharmony of others and therefore our own suffering and possibly a greater conflict. Ghandi taught that peace is not merely something we hold in our minds, it is something that must be embodied in our every action and word spoken - and that includes within ourselves, since how we feel about ourselves is the reason we do everything we do.
To walk this path requires strength and courage as we must be prepared to lift our ”veils of illusion” - you know the ones that mask the things we refuse to notice, or we make up excuses as why it’s ok to keep doing it, even though we know it's not for the better good. It’s only possible to lift the veil when we decide to be pro-active in the collective desire for well-being and happiness. To walk in loving kindness and be the change we wish to see in the world. Instead of judging and pulling apart the external, we change the one thing we have control of, our own choices and daily actions. Observing how we morally conduct ourselves in our treatment of Self, others and Mother Earth.
8 Simple Acts of Ahimsa;
1. Speak to yourself as though you are speaking to your very best friend, for then we lessen our projection onto others, the need to judge or harm another with gossip or harsh words. Embracing our own worthiness and self-love, knowing you are doing your very best, as is everyone else.
2. Tending to your body and it’s symptoms with nurture, care and necessary treatments when required, as though it’s the only one we are gifted with. Experiencing emotions rather than suppressing them in the body (for in our tissues lies our issues!). Try my MindBodyFully Present Meditation
3. Only taking what we need from nature, using fewer of the earth’s resources, including not eating too much food, abusing mother nature’s gifts and also damaging our body with over-consumption. A must watch on Netflix A Life on Our Planet - David Attenborough
4. Not using toxic household cleaners, detergents, self-care and beauty products, nor producing excess non-recyclable waste. Considering the footprint our own household leaves on the planet. I highly recommend shopping for household needs such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, detergents, deodorants, eco clingwrap and so much more from my fave hummingbirdsings.com.au - local, fast and awesome service, and not at all expensive! I also love LoveLuna as an alternative for women's sanitary items.
5. Consider the source of your products ensuring it’s from mindful producers such as BCorp companies Not supporting poor treatment of animals and factory farms, nor digesting foods pumped full of hormones, antibiotics, toxic or poor quality foodstuffs. Ayurveda suggests a diet full of heavy meat is the root cause of most disease and that it also transfers agitation, aggression and violence into our cells. Did you know Norweigans eat meat only 1 day per week to lessen their impact on the planet!
6. Invest with green in mind - possibly choosing lower returns on our investments, avoiding stocks (inc. Superannuation) with companies that make profit from war, plundering the environment or exploiting third world labour and resources. A guide to socially responsible investing by Raiz - I love my Emerald Portfolio!
Tuning out of the violence projected via mass media, not engaging in negative speech or gossip, spreading untruths and conspiracies.
8. Noticing the subtler forms of violence and harming happening around us and acting accordingly, awareness followed by inaction could be the same as condoning the harmful behaviour.
No matter how small or humble our efforts, they are steps in the right direction for healing ourselves and inspiring those around us to do the same. Be part of the ripple effect with your one small act each day. Allow Ahimsa to walk you through the path of Loving Kindness. It’s not just on the mat, it’s in your every day you're living Yoga.
Breathe in peace, breathe out peace - in moments of agitation. Try my Loving Kindness Meditation in your Monthy Membership online.