Lupus and Ahimsa

 

What is Ahimsa?

Ahimsa, an ethical principle with a universal appeal, transcends cultural and belief system boundaries, making it a concept that resonates with people from all walks of life. Although it originates from Indian philosophy and is the base of the yoga practice, its significance goes beyond its cultural roots. 

Ahimsa is one of the fundamental principles of yoga, which is included in the eight limbs outlined by the sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.

Sutra 2.35: ahimsā-pratiṣthāyām tat-sannidhau vaira-tyāgaḥ . In the presence of one who is firmly established in nonviolence, hostility recedes.

These eight limbs provide comprehensive guidance for ethical and spiritual living, leading practitioners towards self-realization and inner peace.

Ahimsa is specifically categorized as the first yama, or moral restraints, in the eight limbs of yoga. The yamas are ethical guidelines that govern how individuals interact with the world around them. 

Practicing ahimsa lays the foundation for the other limbs of yoga, creating a harmonious relationship with oneself and others. By cultivating non-violence in thought and action, practitioners create a conducive environment for spiritual growth and inner transformation.

Gandhi quote

Incorporating ahimsa into one’s yoga practice extends beyond the mat and into everyday life, influencing interactions with others, lifestyle choices, and attitudes towards oneself and the world. It serves as a guiding principle for leading a life of compassion, peace, and integrity.

When living with an auto-immune condition, practicing ahimsa is more important than one can think. It can protect our bodies from excessive emotional and physical stress and flare-ups. The concept of ahimsa inspires us to develop empathy, kindness, and mindfulness in our interactions with all living beings: nature, animals, and ourselves. 

As I continue my journey of self-awareness and spiritual growth through yoga, I am embracing ahimsa as not just a philosophical concept but a practical way of life that I can express in several ways.

Living Ahimsa 

Practicing nonviolence towards others is not just about refraining from causing harm but actively choosing to treat others with kindness, respect, and understanding. Ahimsa starts with our thoughts, requiring us to be self-aware of our thinking patterns and how they influence our emotions.

“This is the unusual thing about nonviolence — nobody is defeated, everybody shares in the victory.”  —Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Self-compassion: Ahimsa also extends to being kind and non-judgmental toward oneself, which is probably my most difficult part. I see myself judging my actions and mistakes with little compassion and understanding. Ahimsa to ourselves means avoiding self-criticism, self-harm, and negative self-talk and instead practicing self-care and self-acceptance. It means loving our bodies, accepting our flaws, and forgiving our mistakes while we learn from them.
  • Ethical lifestyle choices: Many people adopt vegetarianism or veganism to express ahimsa, aiming to reduce animal harm and promote sustainability. Additionally, making conscious consumer choices that prioritize ethical and eco-friendly products aligns with the principles of ahimsa. Planet Earth is our home, and we all are responsible for how we treat and love our motherland.
  • Conflict resolution: Ahimsa encourages peaceful means of resolving conflicts and disagreements. This involves practicing patience, dialogue, and reconciliation rather than resorting to aggression or violence. It is very timely and important in a world so divided. As we harm others, we first and foremost hurt ourselves. Gandhi was one of the living examples of ahimsa.
  • Mindful living: Cultivating mindfulness and awareness allows individuals to become more attuned to the consequences of their actions and words. By practicing mindfulness through prayer, meditation, or other practices, one can strive to avoid causing harm unintentionally and instead contribute positively to the well-being of others. 

Overall, embracing ahimsa requires a continuous commitment to fostering harmony, empathy, and nonviolence in all aspects of life. While it may pose challenges in a world filled with strife and discord, its pursuit can lead to greater personal fulfillment and contribute to a more compassionate and peaceful society.

Have you ever thought about the non-violence approach and how it can change the quality of your life and the life in your community?

With love and compassion,

Hope

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