Ahimsa is a concept that is more commonly known amongst yoga practitioners when it comes to learning about yoga philosophy. Ahimsa, which refers to non-violence, is one of the five aspects of Yama, which highlights the essential rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
I am certainly not the best person to be delving into the more sophisticated interpretation of the eight limbs of yoga, as well as the five aspects of Yama. However, as I learnt more about Ahimsa and its significance in cultivating compassion not only towards self, and also other living beings, it becomes more and more apparent that incorporating Ahimsa into your daily life can only make you a more loving, genuine, and centered person.
Here are the five ways in which you can practice Ahimsa into your daily life:
1. Eliminate judgment of self and others
Eliminating judgment of yourself and others goes a long way in practicing more Ahimsa into your life. Having the understanding that every single person has their own battle to fight, and using that understanding to judge less and emphasise more, will make you a more positive, loving and definitely a happier person. Whenever you find yourself passing judgment towards other people, stop yourself and tell yourself that it is their life, and it is their choice. Sometimes circumstances result in their decisions, and we really have no right to say whether what they do is right or not.
2. Always choose to be kind
Often times in difficult interpersonal situations, we have two choices – whether to return the nasty and negative vibes, or to just let it be. Unfortunately, many of us tend to lapse into the habit of returning the negative vibes back. It is often a difficult decision to make, and sometimes being negative seems like an easier decision to make as opposed to being kind and positive. However, we often regret our decision after, and realize that sometimes being kinder to others, even when they don’t seem to deserve it, is not for their own good and sanity; it’s for our own good. We often feel better and more liberated when we choose to be kind, as opposed to be caught up in our negativity as a result of others’ actions. We can’t control what other people may do or act, but we can control how we react to them.
3. Be happy for yourself and others
We often live in a society or find ourselves in a social circle that is toxic, where negativity and unhappiness seems to be the norm. In fact, sometimes it becomes so normal that we are afraid to feel contented and happy with our lives and for others. When we remove judgment of ourselves and others, and embrace the good things in life and be brave enough to be happy about it, we empower ourselves to take charge of the vibes we give out to ourselves and to others around us. When your friend finds a job, gets a breakthrough, or when something great happens, be happy for them. Same goes to when it happens to yourself too. That way, we remove the negative vibes and energy in our lives and multiply the positive ones.
4. Remove harmful thoughts in difficult situations
While it is easy to be kind and positive when life seems to be smooth-sailing, it may not be so when the going gets tough, and especially when you find yourself caught in unpleasant situations. You may find yourself thinking harmful thoughts about people who were the cause of the unpleasantness – and you may wish ill on them. It is important to stop yourself whenever you find yourself thinking such thoughts, and take a step back. If the situation gets overwhelming emotionally, step out of that situation and do something relaxing and calming, before getting back to it again. Sometimes our anger or frustration tend to get the better of us, and it is important to take deep breaths and do what you need to do to take care of yourself emotionally.
5. Incorporate vegetarian/vegan diet into your lifestyle
There are so many arguments between vegetarians/vegans and people who do not pursue that lifestyle. To me, I find little need to dwell into that argument simply because incorporating vegetarian/vegan lifestyles shouldn’t be an end all be all kind of thing. Some people may prefer doing a slow transition into a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle by starting with a vegetarian/vegan meal a day, or twice a week. Some may find more success in doing a total change within a short span of time.
Since Ahimsa is about non-violence towards all living beings, naturally incorporating a vegetarian/vegan diet into your lifestyle would be a way to practice non-violence towards animals. More importantly, vegetarian/vegan lifestyles have immense health and environmental benefits. For me, it is always a work in progress. I have not transitioned into a full vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, but I am definitely not eliminating that possibility in the near future.
If you have any suggestions or thoughts about how to incorporate Ahimsa into your daily life, feel free to comment below. I hope you guys have a great week ahead! x