Ahimsa. Non-violence. One of the basic tenets found in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras written 2000 years ago. It states that non-violence or ahimsa is central to the practice of yoga. That the benefits of yoga cannot be garnered if you have in your heart violence towards yourself or others.
It may be hard to find any American practicing Ahimsa right now. Many of us are filled with anger and this anger is charging us to action, marching through the streets of New York to once more try and correct social and political inequities that do not serve us as a nation. This anger feels good, because it is righteous.
Anger is so delightful, isn’t it? And if you can channel this energy, great changes can happen. And when it is righteous, there is nothing like this drug! It invigorates. It gets us out of our stable day-to-day existence and challenges us to put ideology over our own comfort. To make the world a better place.
That’s the trouble with anger. It feels so good, who wants to stop? This anger, like love, hate, lust and other strong emotions, is addicting…it is difficult to enjoy in moderation. We are reluctant to lose this emotional high, and fear that life will be less exciting, less meaningful if we cultivate an attitude of non-attachment.
But when passions die down, what will help us continue our pursuit of a more just society?
The practice of Ahimsa. By noticing the harm we think, say or do to others and to ourselves. We can stop this cycle of anger, and work towards building a more just society by practicing being kind and loving to ourselves and the world around us.
The practice of Ahimsa does not mean sitting idle as others speak on your behalf. Be heard, yet cultivate in your heart the truth that we are all one.