Monday, April 28, 2008

Ahimsa

Sunday was a sad but happy day. We graduated from our yoga program and were set free on the world to try to share whatever we've learned with the people that pass through our lives. We've had a number of good laughs in the past 6 months and shared a lot of smiles and some tears which will hopefully continue to move us along our path even though we will not be together anymore.
When we started the program we began moving through the Yamas and the Niyamas. The Yamas are five things that it is suggested yogi's avoid and the Niyamas are 5 things that is suggested we practice. Notice how I say they are suggested. One thing that they were always adamant about in our training is that you don't have to do anything you don't want to, all practices in yoga are an option.
So the first of the Yamas is Ahimsa or non-harm and in one of our first classes we were asked to make a commitment to something related to Ahimsa for two weeks.
Now since our classes have ended I've decided to continue to devote myself to a Yama or a Niyama for 2 weeks, as this practice has had a big impact on my life.
So for the next two weeks it's Ahimsa. I think it'll be easier this time because the first time I heard it I thought I was pretty much being told to give up meat. Ahimsa is really so much more than that. It's about not causing harm to yourself or anyone or thing around you either with your thoughts, actions or words. Of course to never cause anything harm is impossible. Just by existing we kill things or take things from other creatures that may need them. And yoga is not asking us to live a life where you never harm anything but to make little changes towards causing less and less harm.
So I've actually taken on three challenges for the next two weeks.
The first one relates to my driving, which for some reason really makes me a little mean. My goal for the next two weeks when people do stupid stuff around me int their cars is not to think or say mean things about them. This has already challenged me right away this morning when a big truck tried to slide into the side of my vehicle, but I managed not to react badly. And I know some people think what does it matter, they can't hear you. But I think that's the whole point. The only thing my negative comments do are make me feel junky and angry and the person who made the mistake just drives off doing their own thing without even knowing what I said. So I'm just harming myself and making me feel worse.
My second practice is going to be to stop apologizing for things I didn't actually do. I'm notorious for saying the word sorry. And that's not to say you shouldn't apologize for things you've done wrong, but I've apologized to people who step on my foot before. I mean all I'm doing is imposing guilt on myself for things I didn't do. So that's going to be something I try to stop doing for the next 2 weeks.
My last practice is less about me and more about the people around me. I plan to smile and say hello to everyone I pass when I'm out walking or anywhere I might be. I'm well aware of how crazy this will make me look, but you have to admit sometimes when you're having a bad day it's nice to have someone smile at you. I think this will definitely be the hardest. I always feel really awkward doing things like that. I think that's my fear of coming across as nuts! I think I'll just have to work on the idea that I know I'm not nuts (I think) and the people I say hello to will deal with it.
So three challenging practices for me. I know they'll make an impact if I can manage them. Look forward to hearing about my successes and failures in the next 2 weeks.