The essence of ahimsa is non-violence of our own heart
The violence we inflict on each other is only the outward manifestation of the war raging inside ourselves and it is only by stopping the war within that we can stop the war without.
Violence is manifested in actions, in words and in thoughts.
We may consider ourselves non-violent people but violence can work on very subtle levels. It has many disguises.
Thoughts of guilt, shame, resentment, disappointment all have a seed of violence within them. Words like should and must are the same. When we are unable to forgive ourselves or someone else, when we carry resentment; when we expect far too much of ourselves and put the responsibility of the whole world on our shoulders; when we expect the whole world to run according to our liking we are being violent towards ourselves and the rest of the world. When we don’t act according to our truth, but out of our fears, we are being violent to ourselves… Truth and nonviolence are inseparable. As Ghandi said: When I look for Ahimsa, Truth says, ”Find it through me.” When I look for Truth, Ahimsa says, ”Find it out through me.”
Non-violence is unconditional love, it is true compassion. We achieve that non-violence by learning to love and be loved; but how is it possible to love and be loved if we choose to escape or ignore some aspects of ourselves?
Yoga encourages us to meet our inner darkness impartially and compassionately, so that it can be transformed without being acted out in the world. We practice how to meet our inner violence nonviolently and how to express our negativity without hurting anyone, including ourselves. When we learn to discharge our negative energies with the positive intention to transcend these aspects of ourselves, we contribute to spreading peace in the world.
On the mat, intend to practice non violence in action and perform the poses gracefully without force. Intend to respect and love your body’s limitations. Have the intention to practice non violence in your mind. Watch and become aware of your thoughts and see if there are any that contain seeds of violence towards you or another. Once you’ve become aware, you won’t need to push it away, just recognize it, watch it come to your awareness and watch it leave. Thoughts come and go. It is by holding onto them and repeating them over and over that they become the source of our violent actions, or violent words. If you just observe them, without reacting to them, you’ll see that they will leave your awareness as easily as they came (entered).
When we allow ourselves to fully experience the hate and pain within us without cringing, violence, hatred and pain will disappear and open doors to new understandings and liveliness.
Just as a flower begins its journey from a seed beneath the earth, non-violence begins out of self acceptance and love of the true Self, deep within the human heart. Yoga leads us to a peaceful reconciliation with our own true nature.