Children are often taught that hurting others is not good. In Bible, it is taught: Love thy neighbor as thyself”. In yoga, the whole concept is called ahimsa which means non-violence. Ahimsa is practiced in three different ways, and they are action, word, and thought. Non-violence is most commonly implicated to be in physical activity. One who has a little deep understanding is well acknowledged that non-violence can only be practiced through words. Very rarely it is mentioned that ahimsa practice starts in the thought.
Not only that, but also feeling guilty, shame, disappointment, and resentment, and the high expectation of oneself are all silent forms of ahimsa because it prevents you from loving yourself. In most of the Yoga school in Rishikesh, ahimsa is practiced through practical methods.
It can be practiced in daily life by everybody. Just bringing some awareness to the understated and hidden tones of violence in your thoughts, words and actions can easily bring a huge transformation in your life.
Here are few ways through which you can practice ahimsa and through which you can begin integrating into your life every day.
Kind movements towards others:
This is a quite straightforward action, and it is well known to everyone that physical violence is not acceptable to any civilization. But truly practicing non-violence takes one step further than just hurting anyone.
Kind actions towards others mean not causing any disturbances to any living being. Disturbances also include mental disturbances. One of the main ways yogis practice this is by relishing a vegetarian diet so that they will not cause any harm to any creatures. This is one major step you can take to start practicing ahimsa in your daily activities.
Defining ahimsa also gets extended to the environment. IF we harm the environment, we are also causing harm to all living beings inside an environment. We may not be seeing the direct outcomes of our actions, for which it is easy for us to continue causing harm to others without even realizing it. By cultivation of awareness of the outcomes of our actions, we can start practicing true non-violence.
Stop for a moment and think what all choices can you make every day that will embody kindness. The answer to this can be as simple as turning off the lights for saving electricity, not purchasing products for those who are harming the planet.
Physical kindness towards yourself:
You might be wondering how to practice this one? Well! By promising that you will never hurt yourself. Most people do violent actions towards themselves each day, and they even do not know about it.
How many times in a day do you think that doing a certain thing is not harmful to yourself? But again, in the next moment, you forget and do it. These are the violence you do to your bodies. Next time you are practicing some yoga posture and find yourself straining to push yourself deeper into a pose, then stop and relax and tell yourself, ” I will be kind to my body today” This way, you are practicing non-violence.
Speech with no violence:
Sometimes, it isn’t easy to practice. Even though we speak normally with others, we might start yelling at kids, friends, or parents during some emotional moment. Sometimes in anger or frustration, it is quite easy to speak up in a very hurtful way, and people often do not realize it. The best way to practice ahimsa in your speech is by remaining aware of your own emotional experience before you start speaking.
One of the simple steps to start developing awareness of giving a speech free from violence is taking deep breaths before responding to someone who stimulates your emotions.
Thoughts free from violence:
Your thoughts are very powerful. The thoughts that you generate in your mind puts an impact on everything as well as everyone present around you. Have you ever felt like you start feeling negative when you spend a few hours with a negative person, you start feeling negative? This is their silent influence on your mind, and this is the origin of ahimsa. But you must know that non-violent thought helps in avoiding violent action. This is the reason we should replace negative thoughts with love.
Yes, it isn’t easy, and it will take time, but you can practice it anytime and anywhere. It is vital to respond to others with love. When you harbor negative thoughts towards anybody who hurt you, it will only harm you more. Rather try to feel sympathetic for people who always feel that they need to do bad things. It is because they do not love themselves. Give them thoughts of love so that they will stop suffering.
Forgive and forget your mistakes:
This is one of the most difficult practices but often taught in a 200 hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh. In our society, kids are often taught to judge themselves from starting. They are always pushed to become the best in everything when compared to others. The memories of being shameful and embarrassed always reside in our minds and often haunt us once in a while. It reminds us that we should not repeat any mistakes. These thoughts are often called violent thoughts. They cause disturbance to your peace of mind and are one of the biggest obstacles to self-love.
You can start cultivating non-violent thoughts by always remembering that mistakes are not always a bad thing. They are mere lessons from which you will grow, but only if you allow it. Without mistakes, you might not be who you are or where you are now.
Remember that everybody is on their path of life and grows at their speed. This is the reason you should not compare yourself with anyone.
So, with all these practices of non-violence, you can start transforming your own life and others. Be kind to yourself and others. Never expect to master ahimsa in a single day or week, but it is a lifelong practice. Gradually you can see all changes, and it will start inspiring you to endure this internal growth.