AHIMSA NON-VIOLENCE

Ahimsa – the first Yama – translates to “non-violence” or “non-harming” (‘himsa’ = ‘hurt’, and the prefix ‘a’ = ‘not’). It’s a fundamental principle advocating the avoidance of harm or violence towards all living beings, in both thought and action. Ahimsa is a key ethical and spiritual concept, guiding you to cultivate compassion, kindness, love and understanding in all aspects of your life. Practicing Ahimsa means refraining from physically harming others, ourselves, or nature, abstaining from negative thoughts, and ensuring that our actions are in harmony rather than causing harm.

In the presence of one firmly established in non-violence, all hostilities cease.

YOGA SUTRA 2.35

This Yoga Sutra implies that those who do not cause harm emit ‘harmonious vibrations’, encouraging others to live peacefully too. Gandhi exemplified Ahimsa in his live, showcasing the transformative power of practicing Yoga in all aspects of our being.

Our thoughts significantly impact our well-being. Negative thoughts trigger the fight or flight response, releasing cortisol (the ‘stress hormone’) in to the body, which weakens the immune system and increases susceptibility to illness and physical pain. Conversely, non-violent, loving thoughts stimulate the release of dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical, strengthening the immune system and potentially aiding in healing. Studies have shown that optimists exhibit stronger immune systems, recover quicker from illness, and live longer than pessimists. Furthermore, happiness is contagious; when others around us are happy, our likelihood of experiencing happiness increases as well.

Practicing Ahimsa :

  • Be mindful of your thoughts. Redirect negative thoughts towards positivity and compassion, fostering inner harmony and contributing to a more peaceful world.
  • Be mindful of your environmental impact, reducing waste and living a more sustainable life or adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet to not harm animals or the environment.
  • Think before you speak or press send. If someone cuts you off in traffic, skips ahead of you in line, or sends you a passive aggressive text, soften your reaction and choose to spread love.
  • Evaluate your current lifestyle. Are your daily and weekly habits enhancing your life, or are they causing you harm? See what you can do to create a life that fills you up rather than wears you down. Set aside time for restorative activities that contribute to your physical and emotional health.
  • Be gentle with your inner voice, replacing self-criticism with self-compassion.
  • Remember, self-love is the foundation for loving others fully.
  • Treat all living beings with respect, remembering they all share the spark of life.

Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

LAO TZU