Ahimsa is a term meaning ‘not to injure’ and ‘compassion’. The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hiṃs – to strike; hiṃsā is injury or harm, a-hiṃsā is the opposite of this, i.e. cause no injury, do no harm.
Ahimsa is not simply the practice of refraining from violent words or actions, it is also about abstaining from violent thoughts. It is the total and complete absence of violence from one’s mind, body, and spirit. It is not only about evading harmful deeds, but about not engaging in harmful thoughts. Violence is manifested in actions, in words and in thoughts.
I find this one of the hardest yamas to achieve, to control actions is easy, to control thoughts, next to impossible. When some one cuts you off and does harm to a family member, how do you control the violent thoughts. Maybe it is not letting it blow up, but acknowledging its existence and choosing to look with compassion and let it leave your mind. We are not able to control our environment, our lives or others, the only control we have is our outlook towards the situation.
Can love conquer all? Mahatma Gandhi said, “Ahimsa means love. Because if you have love towards somebody, and you respect that person, then you are not going to do any harm to that person.” How do you show love to the person that did you wrong. But it is easy to love people who love and support you , the harder path is loving the person who hurt you.
We achieve that non-violence by learning to love and be loved. Yoga encourages us to meet our inner darkness impartially and with love and compassion, so that it can be transformed without being acted out in the world. We practice how to meet our inner violence nonviolently and how to express our negativity without hurting anyone, including ourselves. When we learn to let go of our negative thoughts with the good intention then we can surpass that emotion, hopefully contributing to spreading peace in the world. How clique, but i truly wish for peace in the world and for inner peace for everyone. Maybe then, the senseless violence can stop.
On our individual journey in life and our continuing yogic journey, set an intention to practice non violence in action. Respect and love our own body’s limitations. Practice compassionate love in your mind. Take a look inside and be aware of violent thoughts, don’t push it away, just recognise it, watch it come into your awareness and just let it go. Thoughts come and go. It is by holding onto them and repeating them, that we give them power over us and they become the source of our violent actions, or violent words. If you just observe them, without reacting to them, you’ll see that they will leave your awareness as easily as they came. If you have to react, use positive affirmations, good strong matras to curb the negativity. Obviously it is hard to do, but if we do not start the change within ourselves, it will be harder to expect change from others. Ghandi said “Be the change you want to see .” I identify with this sentence a lot.
To blossom like a flower, we need to plant a seed in our minds, non-violence begins out of self acceptance and love of the true Self, deep within our human hearts. Yoga will lead us to a peaceful reunion with our own true nature. Om shanti shanti shanti !!
Thea 200hr YTT