By Kelly Krishna Dunn
Ahimsa is the acme of bravery and the quality of the strong. The law of Ahimsa is as much exact and precise as the law of gravitation. It can be a beautiful thing to know the correct way to apply it intelligently and with accuracy. If you are able to apply it with precision, you can work wonders. The practice of Ahimsa develops the heart in a wonderful manner.
How to integrate Ahimsa in everyday life?
Whether you’re experienced in yoga or just beginning, integrating the practice of Ahimsa in everyday life can lead to beautiful strides. Ahimsa is one of the five Yamas, which are ethical, moral imperative guidelines for yogis. Ahimsa can be integrated into a practice of non-harming other living beings, nonviolence in all aspects of life from the physical to the mental and emotional. Nonviolence is defined by honest compassion and truly divine love. You can achieve this by embracing love, learn to love deeply, and also to receive love. However, this is challenging to do if you choose to avoid or ignore certain traits held within yourself.
You can incorporate Ahimsa into daily activities. For instance, some yogis do not eat meat. Whatever you choose to do with your diet, focus on practicing self-love in all you do. Another way to bring Ahimsa into your life is through compassion. It is the potential to accept events as is, with an open heart and to let go of reacting in any negative way by replacing those feelings with loving kindness and acceptance. Yoga gives you the chance to practice non-violence in your mind and at the same time cultivate awareness of your own thoughts to find out if there are hints of harm and/or revenge against yourself or others in your life. Become the witness, observe and recognize these thoughts as they come into your consciousness and then watch as they again leave.
How to practice Ahimsa in the mind and body?
The power of Ahimsa is greater than the power of the intellect. It is easy to develop the intellect, but it is difficult to purify and develop the heart. To understand how nonviolence can manifest in our lives everyday, it is best to learn first how subtle daily actions and responses are filled with the elements of violence. This often happens against ourselves. Harsh speech, wounding the feelings of others by gesture, expression, tone of voice and unkind words. By injuring another, you injure your own Self. Injure none in thought, word, and action. Give a chance to behold your own Self in all beings. This will promote Ahimsa.
Trial and difficulties are bound to come in your way on your path to test your strength. If it is challenging to forgive someone for something they have done against you, or if you find it hard to forgive yourself for something you’ve done, you are hurting yourself by not letting go and this creates no space for love to enter or to dissolve any hostile nature. Everyone holds pain inside themselves, by forgiving you can overcome trials in a positive way and watch how doors will open to a new understanding.
The perfection of forgiveness and the presence of Ahimsa is a soul-force more subtle than electricity or magnetism. There is a hidden power which protects its practitioners. The Yogi then enjoys the highest bliss, peace, and immortality.
How can a Yoga practice assist with Ahimsa?
Yoga is a phenomenal way to access Ahimsa in our daily interactions. By practicing yoga, you can confront your own inner darkness with light and compassion. This then paves the way for transforming negative emotions without acting on these feelings. Yoga creates the avenue to getting in touch with harm you hold inside through releasing negative energy through positive intentions and transcends the negative aspects of yourself, creating peace in the world around you.
We can understand Ahimsa as the being mindful of thoughts. Thoughts naturally move in and out of our minds. Holding onto harmful thoughts affects well-being. Diet and exercise are important for your health, but if you do not have healthy thoughts then unhealthy thoughts can harm you causing emotional injury to the self. When you turn your yoga practice into a complete lifestyle, it can guide daily interactions with yourself and others. Keeping this in mind as we allow the yoga practice to help us move out of negative thoughts in the mind and out of the body. We can then accept ourselves totally, no matter how flexible or how strong we may be.
This translates to all aspects of our lives. Embracing Ahimsa will improve well-being as well as those around you. It comes from deep within the heart. May all beings everywhere be happy and free.
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Cover photo taken from Fight Against OCD.