In daily life we are flooded with it, violence. Indirect trhough newspapers, tv, radio and other media. Direct, wether you are aware of it or not, through the actions and words of both other people and yourself and in the end also your own thoughts.
Ahimsa is the first Yama and is also translated as non-violence. Ahimsa goes beyond not harming others or yourself in a physical way. Ahimsa also means non-violance in words and eventually in thoughts.
When you are going to work with this yama you will notice violence in more and more subtle forms. Even when at first it doesn't seem to have anything to do with violence. When you are act out of ignorance chances are you will harm yourself or someone else. With this yama to not only take a close look at your daily routines but also really think about wether something is beneficial before saying yes to something.
VIOLENCE IN DEEDS
Violence in deeds is probably much bigger than you would think at first. Harming someone physically clearly means violence, you are hurting someone. But also the consequences your actions might have, even without you knowing, can harm someone.
Say you buy a super cheap shirt somewhere. Most likely it wasn't pruduced in the good workingconditions and the people that made that shirt probably didn't get enough in return. By buying that shirt you are, in a way, harming people. Ofcourse there are always different ways to look at things like this and you will have to decide what feels best to you. Even though I have quite a strong opinion on these things it doesn't mean you have too. So above all, think about the consequences of your actions. However small the action might seem.
When you or someone else must do something that in a way is forcing yourself or someone to do something they might not want to do at all. Even though you could also work with the resistence against something you must do hereit might also be a good idea to reflect on how necessary the thing you must do really is. Are you not harming yourself more by forcing yourself to do that thing. And no, that doesn't mean you should only eat junk instead of healthy food when you don't feel like eating healthy. Putting junk into your body is harming it much more in that case.
I think it is just disgusting that an animal was born just to be killed...
Non-violence in deeds doesn't stop with humans. Also animals and the planet play a role in this. For example I choose very intentionally not to eat any meat. I think it is just disgusting that an animal was born just to be killed... I have not been eating any meat or fish for a good 10 years now because of it. I already didn't like a lot of meat and killing an animal for that little piece of meat that you have finished in no time and not even really enjoying it? Absolutely not! Not much later I decided not to eat any meat or fish again. Even the things I did like. Nowadays there are so many replacements that it's quite easy to make the switch. And slowly I am moving towards a vegan diet. Right now I mostly notice that I am starting to feel weird about consuming dairy products. You are basically taking the milk from the young animal that the milk was intended for, and is being separated from it's mother. In turn the mother produces (as far as I know) milk for much longer that she would have in nature. That is something that I would consider to be violence. Not having dairy can mean having to look into things a bit more and isn't always too easy since I am not the one doing the groceries in our home. And I really love cheese, however I notice that since I don't eat it as often anymore I really don't like the afertaste. Still I don't think it's unlikely for me to eventually switch to a completely vegan diet.
Something else, killing insects. The only insect I tend to have some difficulty with are musquitoes. When the season starts I catch them and put them outside but I notice that at some point I get just too frustrated with the amount of musquitoes (Last year I still had them in my bedroom at the start of December...)
And then there is the earth. We as humanity have gotten so good at harming the earth. Pollution is just one of the examples but also deforestation. It can feel like you can't do much as an individual but every little helps. Just start with thinking about what your products are made of where your products end up when you are done with them. Is it a natural product that get broken down by nature or is it made out of plastic? Something nature can't do much with and will end up polluting the earth.
VIOLENCE IN WORDS
Words can hurt, words can harm. The way you say something or the words you use can absolutely harm someone. A clear example would be cursing, bullying. A not so clear example is when you say something you mean well to someone but later it turns out it came across completely different. Or you offended someone without even knowing you did.
Words can be tricky because you never know for sure how the other person is going to interpret them. Still it's important to think about the words you use because wether positive or negative, all words have some sort of effect. When you suspect certain words are going to harm someone more then that they are going to help the person, leave them for what they are, a thought. And yes, it can be hard, often words will have left your mouth before you have gotten the chance to think about their effect. Being aware of it is the first step, like it so often is.
VIOLENCE IN THOUGHTS
To get back to when you must do something, whether you said so or someone else, try not to see it as must but want. I am a bit allergic to the word "must". I "must" do nothing. When you must something it indicates not having a choice, that it doesn't matter what you think about something, you don't have any freedom. And yes, I do think that is violence. Ofcourse there are going to be things you are not going to have any influence on but just think about all of the small things that you must do just because you said so. That is something you do have influence on. I notice when I think I MUST do yoga or MUST meditate I tend to get into a downward spiral. Both are good for me and I know it. But when it becomes a must it makes something I enjoy doing so much into something I really don't want to do, something I have to do even when I don't feel like it. I think it's important to stay alert and notice it when it happens to you. When you do notice yourself doing it, maybe it's time for a change in mindset.
Things are as they are and they are never consistent.
Things may be as they are. Wanting to change things can bring so much restlessness into your mind. Wanting to change something you can not change is harming yourself. The same thing goes for wanting to keep something the way it is. Things are as they are and they are never consistent. Accept the things as they are right now and accept that they will change. Change is the only consistent thing and it's somthing you don't always have influence on.
Violent thoughts. I may not curse so much but when I am pissed I certainly think it. And even thought you don't harm anyone with your thoughts, you are going to suffer fromt hem. The same goed for a negative thoughtpattern. Thoughts are something incredibly personal and intimate, directly they don't seem to do much but that's not quite the case. Your thoughts are that what influences your words and deeds. When you are continually bringing yourself down in your thoughts you are most certainly harming yourself. Also when you are continually bringing someone else down by the way, that way you keep feeding your irritation or whatever the cause might be. Both aren't so beneficial to your emotional state.
I can probably write an entire book on this but for today I would like to keep it at this. Are there any ways you are integrating ahimsa into your life? What are the steps on your bridge to a life without violence? And what steps would you like to take in the near future? Think about it. For now I wish you all the good and a lovely day.