Recently I created my own business, Ahimsa Wellness. You probably haven’t heard of it because…well I haven’t entirely figured out the technological blah blah of how to launch it! But the intention is there and I’m watering it and it is a brilliant segway for me to introduce to you the concept of Ahimsa; non violence, non-harming, compassion for all living things.
I need to acknowledge up front, there is so much violence and harm being done to others and the world around us right now but I am NOT burying my head in the sand. I’ve made a choice to not use this blog as another platform to discuss current affairs. I’m using it to share what I actually DO to minimise harm to myself and others.
In my last post I lightly described the 8 limbs of yoga and committed to sharing my insights and thoughts to you on the first two limbs, the Yamas (universal morals) and the Niyamas (individual morals). This is a really cool commitment because every time I revisit these teachings, I find something new about myself and the way I am flowing (or not) with life. It’s a good old check & balance sesh! Word of warning though, it’s part and parcel of reviewing these intimate parts of ourselves that we unearth things that may not feel, look or taste good! But you owe yourself 100% honesty in this inquiry.
Now these are MY feelings, my interpretations of many different teachers interpretations. It’s up to you how you interpret Ahimsa and all the components of the 8 limbed path of Yoga // the path for living and how you decide (or not) to practice.
For those that are not officially practicing Yoga but reading this – can you see how transferable the practice of Yoga is to daily living? You’re already doing Yoga!!
On the mat:
Go gently. Take rest when you need it. Don’t sacrifice your body for the sake of a pose. I’ve learned the hard way, dislocating a shoulder trying to do a hand stand “because everybody else was”….*blushes*….silly duffa.
Yoga is an internal practice. It is NOT a p!ssing contest to see who can turn their body into a pretzel first. Mind your own business by keeping your attention on where YOU, your body and your breath are at in the only moment that exists. This one.
If you can’t breathe in a back bend or twist, get the heck out. You breath is your barometer for when you have gone too far. If you are forcing, it’s very hard to be feeling.
Check in with your face – even if you can’t see it, feel it. Is there tension in your jaw? Are you furrowing your brow? Are your shoulders tickling your ears? Relax, find ease, you never know when the wind might change and you’ll get stuck with the “when will this pose be over” face.
The person at the front of Yoga class is a guide, you are the real teacher. If something is suggested that doesn’t feel good (excruciating pain = good example) don’t do it!
Off the mat:
Let’s get the most controversial one out of the way. Consider closely what you consume, what you eat. If it had a heart beat and you are ok with this, continue. If there are medical reasons you need to eat flesh or your body craves animal protein, listen to it. I have not always been a vegetarian and perhaps I won’t always be a vegetarian but the more I look at the ethics around the meat industry, the more aligned I feel by not contributing to it.
Start with YOU – be kind & compassionate to YOU. This goes for your thoughts, your words and your deeds. Treat yourself how you treat others – you are worth it! For the record this is my toughest work. Sometimes I totally love the sh!t out of myself, I relish my own company and I feel quietly confident on my path knowing that if my heart says so, so it is. But other times, I can be consumed with doubt, riddled with insecurities and swamped by feelings of inadequacy.
This is the work – letting these feelings arise so they can pass. When we don’t entertain these negative nelly phases (that don’t like being time framed!) we give ourselves the freedom to choose to focus on what is important, what is the kindest most compassionate thing you can do for yourself right now. Then go do it.
Who you spend time with is who you become! Change your life by consciously choosing to surround yourself with people who embody values like yours. Chose wisely who and what you want to expose yourself to, what you feed yourself with.
Respect your elders. Respect your youngers. Respect all living beings.
There is a certain level of discipline required here – to be loving and kind to ourselves is something we are not encouraged to prioritise and you guessed it, it’s a practice, not a perfect. The vast majority of us have spent many a year talking ourselves down, dimming our own light and dabbling in various (and creative!) means of self sabotage. So be patient and tolerant as you lift veils on your own behavior and learn to really love yourself. Only from this place of self love can we fully love others. I used to gag at such BS but I wish I wish I wish I knew earlier in life just how imperative our own self love and self care is to the rest of humanity.
Non-violence is unconditional love; it is true compassion. By learning how to love and be loved we can begin to embody the practice of Ahimsa in our lives. Here’s a coupla-few more ways to bring kindness and compassion into your life which will in turn, filter into others!