Blog: Along the Rational Edges of Spirituality, Part 4

        Ahimsa as the first word for 2019

The concept of Ahimsa is a basic tenet across religions and philosophies~translating as non violence~ or to do no harm~ it is a nod to the sacredness of all life and perhaps the simplest and most encompassing of all directives!

To do no harm~ might seem impossible!
and yet, study of this one pithy word could offer the greatest opportunity for growth. 

While our first impulse in regard to Ahimsa might be to look to we how we treat others,     it is important to first look inside to consider how we treat ourselves.
Typically, we are our own harshest critics~ we cause ourselves harm in our thoughts and words of self-judgment, negative self talk, the grimace we make as we look in the mirror, the exercise of shoulds and self-loathing, feelings of inadequacy and the guilt we pile on ourselves without even giving it a second thought.  In years past I rationalized that the voice under my breath, calling myself an idiot, or saying my theme song was “if I only had a brain” were expressions of simple humor, or not taking myself too seriously, or harmless self-deprecation. But it just isn’t true! In saying things like this, we block the benefits of unconditional love from ourselves. Self harm is a funny thing and insidious by nature~ it is like the barely perceptible slow trickle of water that wears away solid rock~ we don’t realize the injury, the limitations to our joy and happiness we impose upon ourselves and by extension to others and even the planet.

It could be as simple as forgiving ourselves our imperfections! For me it is a practice of walking the walk.  ..of taking in the words I offer to others, especially in Yoga classes. Phrases such as “Offer yourself the love you would so freely give another” or, “Let yourself feel held and supported as the divine child that you are” or, “honor your body” or “offer yourself an extra dose of compassion today!” or “be pleased with yourself, perfect just as you are in this moment.” 

These heartfelt words are offered in love and compassion~  yet, it took conscious realization, reminders from others and practice, to truly offer them to myself! Lately, I’ve been practicing being kind to me! and I can feel the difference~ I’m happier, lighter, more patient and satisfied with the way things are. Recently, I made a conscious effort to smile at myself when I look in the mirror and I gotta say it is so much more pleasant than those shudders of judgment and “ughs” I had been inflicting on a dear and vulnerable human being.  It is delightfully amazing how when we offer ourselves love and kindness, the whole world is sweeter, more loving and kind. The more appreciation and joy we have for the little things, the more circumstances there are to enjoy and appreciate. 

As we step into this new year, perhaps the greatest gift we could offer ourselves, is the practice of Ahimsa. If we allow ourselves child like joy and appreciation for ourselves, for our lives and our “being” perfectly imperfect as we are, we not only treat ourselves well~ we naturally share that joy and sense of well being with others.    Jai!