Ahimsa (non-violence): what to do

AhimsaThere is no good and bad way of practicing ahimsa. Instead, the point is to prevent those practices that bring us suffering and increase those that lead us to happiness.

The practice of ahimsa is aimed at preventing pain –not only physical, but emotional as well; not only our pain, but of all other living creatures as well. Ahimsa teaches us to avoid verbal (stop swearing!) and physical violence.

Yoga is thought to be the physical manifestation of ahimsa. Practicing yoga helps us controlling our breath and our emotions, by observing our body in each posture and not judging ourselves, not competing with our neighbour by forcing our muscles, and instead, calming our minds. If we can learn to control our emotions, we will not be capable of harming people, animals, or plants.

Not harming ourselves physically on purpose is relatively easy, but what’s the point in constantly damaging our thoughts? That’s what we do when we react pessimistically to any situation that comes to us.

So the biggest challenge is to eliminate toxic thoughts that invade the space for our peace of mind. The more we react negatively to the world around us, the more negative our experience will be. Not only will we approach any situation in a bad mood –which, in turn, will inevitably result in a bad outcome-, but the anticipation for that fatality to eventually take place, will drain all our energy in the meantime.

It is key for us to identify when our brain reacts disapprovingly to certain people or situations, and try to educate it otherwise. I, for instance, *hate* it when people smoke close to me. I can’t stand the smoke of their cigarettes coming my way and inevitably breathing it in. I feel like they are polluting me! More often than not, this will affect my mood in a negative way. But, is it worth it? Indeed that smoker is polluting me… not with the smoke of their cigarette, but with the thoughts that I’m myself creating about them!!

I know smokers provoke that negative reaction in me. Disrespectful and bitter people as well. And my neighbours when they play loud reggae or Whitney Houston. Some people in my family and… ok, I’ll admit it, sometimes, some of my friends.

My challenge this week will be to face them all with a smile first. Let’s see how that will go!! 🙂