AHIMSA: A Daily Practice

How can we find more joy in our day?  How can we be at peace more often?

How can we minimize the unnecessary stresses that the world throws at us?

As I personally journey each day trying to live a life of mindfulness,  I often think of Ahimsa a Yama from Pantanjali’s 8 Limb Path.  If you’re not familiar, the 8 Limb Path gives us principles and practices to help us live our most complete life.

Ahimsa, meaning non-violence helps us to grow our awareness into areas of life that would be considered harmful to us.  When people first think non-violence they immediately think of not harming another person physically or verbally.  Yes, this is certainly a form of Ahimsa and a great way to avoid unnecessary stress in your life.  Chances are that if you physically or verbally attack a person at any point in your day, there will be repercussions that will be emotional and will bring stress.  So, that’s an easy one.   Let’s look at 4 ways we can practice living the principle of non-violence daily.

  1. As mentioned, physically or verbally abusing others.  When we say others, not just humans, but all sentient beings on Earth.  When we give off the emotion of anger, we are sharing a negative energy with the world, we are not in harmony and we are not living in a peaceful manner.  You may have heard the phrase ‘what you give out you will get back’ so if it is joy and peace you’re looking for, treat others how you would like to be treated, looking for a way to love that person or animal for what it is, and not to be bothered so much by what it is not. Our anger is usually only going to affect us the most.  This is not easy, it will take practice, but in a short time you will find yourself getting upset less, because your expectation of others will be less and you will be living with more gratitude.
  2. How are we feeding our bodies?  What are we putting into our bodies and how is the food or drink truly affecting our body?  Sugar is great place to start.  There is no nutritional value in sugars yet most of our diets consist of very high amounts and this has incredibly negative affects on us.  It raises blood sugar levels which could lead to diabetes or other diseases, it creates a lot of belly fat, it slows liver production and takes the body out of balance.  Let’s talk about meats, if you eat meat are you checking to be sure that the animal had a clean diet, wasn’t fed hormones or antibiotics?  Vegetables, are you cleaning your vegetables well to be sure that you’re cleaning off any chemicals that may have been used, and lastly, processed foods.  Are we sure what we are eating, is actually food that the body will digest and use as a nutrient to help heal itself.  Paying attention to not feeding the body in a violent way is the 2nd area we can practice Ahimsa daily.
  3. What thoughts are we feeding to our mind?  This is a big one because we have the capability to fill our heads with either very good positive affirmation or very negative affirmation.  Me telling myself I’m stupid or dumb is not different than if you told me.  It’s bullying, internally yes, but bullying none the less.  What am I reading, or listening to, or watching on TV?  These are important areas to consider.  If you’re looking for joy and peace in your life but your mind is filled with negative sounds and words it’s going to be very hard to think positive.  Read books that will create positive thoughts, listen to music that is cheerful and clean.  Creating awareness around what we put into our minds is a huge step in finding joy, fill yourself with joyful thoughts and you eventually will only produce a mindset of peace.
  4. A fourth way to build non-violent awareness in your daily life is to see how you’re treating your body physically.  For me personally I had to look at how I was exercising, in making sure that I was exercising in a healthy physical manner and listening to my body, not pushing through injury, but giving myself the opportunity to recognize the issue.  For those of you that are hard core worker outers you know what I’m talking about.  Lifting weights through pain, only because the workout calls for it, doing a certain yoga pose because the rest of the class is doing it even though you know you’re harming an injury already incurred.  Trust me, I feel your pain, I’ve been there, I’ve pushed through, but I assure you, pushing through only brought more unnecessary stress into my life, not peace or joy.   For some of you, maybe it’s that you’re not exercising at all.  If you’re obese and not actively doing anything about it, you are harming your body in a violent way.  If you’re a smoker, you must ask yourself how is this helping me to find real peace and joy.   Temporary peace and joy maybe, but when we start to examine how to create our best life we soon come to admit that inhaling anything other than pure God given oxygen is not maximizing our gift of life.  So look at these areas of your physical well being and ask yourself, how is what I’m doing showing myself love.

The journey toward joy and more peace is a never ending journey and it does not happen over night.  Like anything that we want to be good at in life it takes practice and patience.  A great place to start when looking for more peace is by  working toward non-violence in all areas of life.   Each day your awareness will grow, each day you will find yourself caring more, and each day you will start to feel the affects of your hard work.

Make no mistake, it is just that, hard work, but this hard work produces the greatest gift we can receive.  Joy

Know The Goal

Chris Bryan

 

((Photo Credit: www.wandakoch.com ))

 

 

 

 

 

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