The first Yama is AHIMSA, nonviolence.
I write this first yama post on nonviolence while Superbowl43 is on in another room….just to add a tad of irony regarding bringing nonviolence home. OK OK I know that football is not intrinsically violent…but the ads often suggest a way of life that, well, can be improved upon!
Bouanchaud begins his discussion of these precepts by saying the “Respect for all beings and all things must permeate all levels.”
Ahimsa shines like a luminous flower in the center of the circle of our practice, penetrating through and illuminating all other areas of the eightfold path.
Georg Feuerstein, preeminent yoga scholar, says in The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali, “They are not only the first steps on the path but form the very foundation of the whole yogic enterprise. At first the practice of these moral principles requires conscious effort, but as the yogin’s inner being becomes more attuned to the higher realities, the application of non-harming, truthfulness, and the other virtues becomes habitual.”
Yogini-writer Nischala Joy Devi (The Secret Power of Yoga, A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras)) underscores the importance of Ahimsa in the practice of the other Yamas:
“When we revere all as ourselves through Ahimsa, the other four qualities of Yama: Satya (truthfulness), Astheya (generosity), Brahamacharya (moderation), and Aparigraha, (abundance) are naturally present.”
Ahh, such a place to begin our yoga practice from! And yet, how many of us begin with an underlying sense of violence to our own bodies? How often do we speak in a derogatory tone or words to our Selves? How often do we compare ourselves to the yogi or yogini practicing next to us, or to the teacher, or some other image we have seen in a magazine?
from my journal:
Ahimsa —all of the other principles flow from this
the biggest challenge here for me is to not harm myself
I am really working on caring for myself
mentally, physically, psychologically, spiritually.
Not overdoing anything
finding the optimal, healthy balance
drinking enough water for goodness sakes!
If I harm myself, I harm others
we are connected
being proactively healthy for myself means doing good for others
it means keeping the link whole
do not take the connection lightly
Meanwhile, I reread Farhi’s early pages (YOGA BODY MIND & SPIRIT) for the umpteenth time and today I make a vow of practicing ahimsa toward myself. Aren’t all of the precepts summed up in this one word?
The popular Buddhist nun from Gampo Abbey, Nova Scotia, Pema Chodron suggests a practice of ultimate friendliness toward oneself. This is ahimsa, lovingkindness, metta.
Can I allow myself to float into …..myself ….without trying to tie myself up?
Can I begin to act as if I love my self?
Can I become devoted to my own spiritual and physical and mental health?.
What is the relationship of me to me?
I am working on my own dear negativity towards myself.
Do you believe in PEACE? Inner…Outer….in your community…..family- with your kids, parents, sisters….World….
Is peace the same as nonviolence – can one be at peace and be violent or self-injurious at the same time?….can they exist without each other?
Are there levels of violence and self or community-injury? How much am I willing to put up with? Do my yoga and meditation practices take me to deeper levels, so that I accept less and less injurious behavior from myself and others?
Do I truly feel this way towards all beings, or only to a certain *level* of being?
What can I do to wake myself up to a deeper practice of AHIMSA? Are there already supports in my life that will encourage the development of this ethical principle in my life?