Ahimsa – Nonviolence/Nonharming

During our recent annual winter retreats in Tulum, Mexico, we discussed the Yamas, those suggested restraints that are one of the cornerstones of Yoga philosophy. As the Yamas lay out a vision of the highest possibilities of our existence they become practical guidelines we can use to make skillful choices as we move through life. Knowing that the quality of our lives will at least in part be determined by the focus of our attention, they can help us decide where to place our attention as we flow through our lives. Imagine how powerful it would be to be able to choose what we think, say and do. How powerful it would be to choose our attitude as we move through the challenges of life. The Yamas can help us do that. Ahimsa (sanskrit) or nonviolence/nonharming is the first of the Yamas and is the foundation for all the others. (First and foremost “do no harm” is the basis for many philosophies.) The others, in turn, enhance its meaning. The practice of nonviolence goes well beyond not being physically aggressive, taking the spider outside or being a vegetarian. It can start with acknowledging the harm we do to ourselves by having a limited vision of our capabilities, listening to any voices we may have that diminish us, use force or manipulation on others or even push ourselves further into a Yoga pose that takes us out of balance and alignment. All of this causes injury in some way and is harmful/violent in the way we are using those words here. Ahimsa encourages the way to balance and alignment in our relationships with ourselves, others and the planet. Do what we want without causing harm. Love is at its core. This touches the surface of ahimsa and is worth spending some time thinking about. Can you contribute to this article by sharing your thoughts on the subject and some examples from your life or things you’ve observed? Namaste from NamaStay… Paul

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