Our yoga focus as we began 2019 has been the first and most fundamental of the Yoga philosophies, ‘Ahimsa’. Ahimsa translates from Sanskrit to ‘non-harm’, and in the positive sense, to be kind, and to cultivate peace.
My translation of this first Yama (abstinence) has always been to be kind and compassionate; in thoughts, words and deeds. In reading Jennie Lee’s book ‘True Yoga’, on the Eight Limbs of Yoga, my mind was opened further with her interpretation of peacefulness, and seeking to understand, rather than jumping to judgement or blame.
Jennie writes, ‘To practice Ahimsa, we stay serene even when conflict arises. We seek a solution based on calm understanding.’ And later ‘Peacefulness enables us to make wise decisions rather than reactive or ignorant ones. It enables us to stand in the face of conflict or insult unaffected and undisturbed. Ahimsa means giving peace and continual understanding to those who are angry with us…’. She reminds us ‘Every frustrating experience of daily life can be approached with either peacefulness or agitation’.
I now add to my personal understanding of Ahimsa as seeking to understand (others & myself), with an open heart; to cultivate peacefulness and kindness.
Ahimsa applies to how we behave, the thoughts in our head and the words we speak. Remembering you can check in with thoughts which are of a blaming, judgemental or critical nature and get curious around where they’re stemming from. You can perhaps consider what the opposite thought may be, and turn the thought around to be more accepting, curious, and kind in it’s language and intention. This is a way of seeking to understand; staying open minded and open hearted. And practicing the art of contemplating there is more going on for each and every one of us, than meets the eye, and is acted out in that moment. We can only control and change our behaviour. We have the ability to let go of judgment and instead be kind. It’s a choice we can make when we start to notice what we are thinking. Getting curious about where the thought of judgement comes from, and challenging the thought with it’s opposite is one way.
Growing up my grandmother would remind us 'always be kind'. On reflection, this is possibly the most useful daily reminder to ourselves, in this life; to be kind, always.
Remind yourself of this, before you find yourself in the default, critical mind; judging, gossiping or criticising another human being who it is more useful to assume, is doing the best they can.
His holiness the Dalai Lama, with all his wisdom says his religion is kindness.
Practice being kind – in your thoughts, in your words; and how you act and behave, towards yourself, and others.
Reflect with Ahmisa
Along with weekly yoga classes for which this is our weekly focus we also offer:
· Meditation courses and a weekly meditation session
· Corporate wellbeing workshops based on mindfulness and healthy habit creation
· Individual and group coaching for lifestyle, wellbeing, mindfulness and meditation.
If you want to know more, email Nicky on firstname.lastname@example.org