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Exploring the Yamas: Ahimsa

In one of my previous posts I mentioned about more explorations on the Yoga Sutras coming soon and here we go, soon is now !

I don't claim or pretend to know it all (far from that) and this blog is just me exploring different topics of life and Yoga philosophy. There is no statement of any of it to be the one and only truth. More like me thinking and

writing my thoughts down..and maybe the content may connect with someone, maybe open minds to new angles or even just be a nice 3-5min read on a Sunday afternoon!

In the next few posts we will explore each of the Yamas and Niyamas from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Today, we start with Ahimsa, non-violence

So what does it really mean?

If looking at the "exact" translation from the Sanskrit word, Ahimsa would be defined as "the absence of injury" . Injury can be instinctively thought of as a physical pain. However it is important to remember feelings can be injured too, like, for instance, when someone is abusive or offensive to someone else.

To keep it light (and relatively short!) I won't dive into the history or philosophy behind where Ahimsa comes from, or how great leaders like Ghandi made it a way of life. Instead, let s have a look at what Ahimsa may mean to us and what we may want to consider to live a life with less harm around us.

When we refer to Ahimsa, we refer to more than just not behaving violently. It means to BE and LIVE with no harm, to oneself and to others. But is this actually possible in today's world? "Practise makes perfect" , doesn't it?! It is indeed difficult to live a life where no harm is inflicted. Unfortunately! We can still try to do our best, at our own scale, and our own pace. Have you ever got frustrated or angry because of someone passing just before you while you have been queuing for what seems to be forever? Or when a car comes past you and barely gives you any space? What about when walking in a crowd and people pushing one another in hope to move faster? Or when you snapped at them, your spouse, your kids, your friends, anyone. So many examples of intended or non-intended violence on a daily basis, all around us, and amongst us.

So what could I do to make a difference?

Start within. Every one of us can make a difference by adapting and bettering ourselves. When it comes to living a life with less violence, think about how you behave on a day to day basis and what you could change to be a more positive influence on your life and others.

Start with self. You probably have heard/read this that one way to behave better with others is to start by accepting self, forgiving self, and caring for self. So start there. Just right there. You DESERVE your own kindness. You OWE IT to yourself if anything. Your body, your mind, your whole self is with you day in and day out. From facing physical challenges to heartaches. From going through grief to recovering from an injury.

Start now. Tell yourself that from now on you will be here for yourself, during the best and worst times, that you won't give up on yourself, that you will keep going, keep learning. Believing in yourself is one of the hardest step. Once you do, you will start to see, think, and feel things differently. It takes time though. So don't be impatient. Take time and trust the process.

Then, be mindful of your environments, people in your life, strangers. It could be that when you re going through a bad day, or having a stressful time, you become short-tempered or have a rude behaviour to others. I invite you to take a deep breath before speaking. Before you say anything that comes to mind, take a deep breath. Maybe a couple more even. Maybe put one hand onto your chest, and the other onto the belly. And for a minute or so, focus on your breath. Let your mind lose itself into each inhale and exhale. Take that extra moment. That moment can make a difference into how you will react in a minute. Try it out and let me know how you get on!

The last angle I would like to take here is when inviting others to be more mindful, guiding them gently to a life with less harm by sharing your practice, kindness, love and empathy. Being there for one another. Learning to shift from a state of anger, frustration, or negativity, and inviting others to do the same.

Don't put too much pressure on yourself

Remember, the above mentions about non-violence to self. While it is amazing to want to do better and spread the influence. Remember that it all starts from within. Treat yourself right. Treat yourself and others the way you want to be treated. Go one day at a time, remembering that you are and do already enough.

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Jane Scanlan
Jane Scanlan

This really resonates with me.

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