Last week I organically began sitting with the idea of ahimsa
, which is commonly known as "non-violence" and is part of the Yamas ("ethical disciplines") in the 8 limbs of yoga. I was coming off a 10 day vacation spent on a lake in New Hampshire where there's still no cell phone reception and the loudest sound came from the lake's resident loon, and was marveling at how good I felt - for the first time in a long while.
Ahimsa is often used when discussing a vegetarian diet (let's save that conversation for another post), but as BKS Iyengar
says, "violence is a state of mind, not of diet." I was pondering it in terms of how I treat myself. I spent most of my vacation sleeping (I clocked in some epic lakeside naps), resting and restoring myself, and had time to remember how hard it can be to bestow a little love and kindness on little ol' me.
These days it seems almost normal to put ourselves through "the grind," and when we're not occupied with one of our numerous life duties, we're often busy thinking cruel and negative thoughts about ourselves. There's a lot of truth in that old saying, "we are our own worst critics," right? I'm sure I'm not the only one who funnels a lot of negative energy inward, resulting in "violence" against myself. When it comes to dealing with cancer, caregivers often harbor anger and frustration at not being able to keep everything together, and those battling illness may find themselves channeling resentment and anger toward bodies, their healing process, an as a result, themselves.
Today, take a moment to practice ahimsa within yourself, and approach any negative thoughts or emotions with a bounty of acceptance and peace. Iyengar says,"Violence arises out of fear, weakness, ignorance or restlessness. To curb it what is needed is freedom from fear. To gain this freedom, what is required is a change of outlook on life and reorientation of the mind." Before we can spread the message of peace and nonviolence in the world, we must first find it in ourselves. Give it a go - because a little inner peace can go along way.