On Ahimsa

Yoga is more than a workout.  It’s an 8 limbed philosophy that lays over all cultural and religious belief systems.  It doesn’t matter your nationality, your race, your economic situation, the 8 limbed path is for all people.  One of the 8 limbs is the Yamas, a set of principles that when practiced allow the practitioner to stay in right relation to himself and the world around him.  The first Yama is Ahimsa. Which roughly translates to “non-violence.”  

8 Limbs of Yoga - The Description of Ashtanga Yoga

It’s easy to see the grosser forms of non-violence. Tune into the news report and see the heartbreaking effects of war, murder, and assault.  But what about the more subtle forms of non-violence, like judgment of self or others, negative self-talk, or intolerance? Or my favorite, busy-ness?  Busyness feels good. When we’re super productive it feeds the ego, makes us feel important. People NEED Me.  How could it possibly be a form of violence? 

Thomas Merton, (who is not a yogi, by the way) wrote:

There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence… activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.  To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands. To commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy… kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.

Did you catch that? Too much busyness, over committing, even when the motives are good, “kills the root of inner wisdom…” Read that again. Kills the root of inner wisdom

In our society, productivity is king, and too much of it is an act of violence.  How counterculture is that?   You want to buck the system? You want to change the world? Make time for rest.  Find time. Make time. 

No one wants WWIII, we want Russia to back off and let Ukraine be.  When we practice non-violence, ahimsa, with ourselves, we become lightning rods for compassion.  Fighting for peace is illogical. You create peace.  Be kind to yourself, do less, rest more. Cultivate the relationship with your inner wisdom and your Higher Power.  Imagine the impact on the world if every single human became more aware and responsible for their own thoughts and feelings?  What if all humanity practiced non-violence? I think that’s what John Lennon imagined when he wrote:

“You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.”

Just for today

Mindfulness is the key word.  I will pay attention to my inner wisdom and say yes to projects and work that feed my soul as opposed to drain my energies.    


I will, to will, thy will.

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