Ahimsa is the practice of non-violence…not necessarily tree-hugging, anti-war, protest-joining, vegan, guilt-inducing non-violence, but rather a compassionate attempt to purposely do no violence to others, including yourself. You may not be running around flailing a sharp knife at your enemies, and that’s great, but ahimsa challenges us to consider the less obvious ways in which we may be unknowingly, subtly violent. Ahimsa simply encourages us to be more aware and more compassionate. Where does ahimsa start? At the core of all we know: with ourselves.
At a very young age, I felt a collective consciousness hard-wired into my DNA, yoking me on some fundamental level to my Indian heritage. Although my father gave up his vegetarianism at sixteen and I had been raised to eat meat, I had an epiphany at the age of seven when I realized that the meat I had been eating once had a soul, a will to be free, and a right to live, just as I had. I realized that it was with violence that these animals lived and through violence that they died. I could no longer eat chicken and say I loved animals. I could no longer eat pig meat and say I didn’t like violence. I could no longer eat cow meat and then hug my dogs, whose depth of love and compassion surpassed that of most humans I knew growing up. I am not perfect in my convictions or practices. Nor is my diet necessarily the right way for everyone. Nor do I feel I’m better than anyone else. But refraining from eating meat is one way of alleviating the suffering and violence in this world just a little, and it is what works for me.
Ahimsa and You
Is there a place in your life, whether it be in the way you speak to yourself or someone else, the way you treat the people you encounter on a daily basis, the way you view your reflection in the mirror, or the food you choose to eat, where you can more mindfully foster ahimsa?
By Anitra Lahiri
Anitra Lahiri is an avid Yogi, Yoga Instructor, mother, and writer who strives (and often fails!) to infuse all aspects of her life with Yoga philosophy and practice. Her Yoga blog, Under the Lotus Tree, is for anyone who simply wants to live a healthier, more meaningful life. Read more from Anitra at her blog - underthelotustree.com.
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