Ahimsa Practice – Wk 2 – Violence towards Others & Compassion

Posted on Posted in Self-Study, Yamas & Niyamas

ahimsa sanskrit

Hi all! This weekend was busy. We traded in our gas-crappy Chrysler 200 for a much friendlier Kia Forte. If any of you have ever bought a new car, you know this isn’t an in-and-out sort of thing. We were there for 4 hours, but it was a pleasant experience, so much unlike when we bought the Chrysler. Anyway! I digress….On Sunday I went to a very informative Ayurveda workshop in Ballard (Seattle), which was really great. Jodi Boone, the woman running the workshop, is a super sweet lady and answered all our questions. We were a group of all women so you know how those things go! It was fun and I hope to write-up a post about Ayurveda at some point in the future. It’s definitely on my list of things to study further.

I mention this just to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to. I was hoping to get this post done last night, but after my asana practice I just didn’t have time. I wanted to spend some time with my husband and there were a few obligatory house things to take care of too. So, here I am! Let’s get started – Ahimsa!

Violence towards Others

This last week of Ahimsa practice I was using Deborah Adele’s questions for exploration to guide me through the experience. For M/T/W she asks us to discern the difference between “help” and “support” and to notice what we might be avoiding in our own lives because we are too interested in others. She mentions earlier in the chapter that when we try to “help” we are trying to solve problems for people whereas if we are “supporting” them we are meeting them on an even playing field, assuming they are just as capable as we are of solving their own problem.

One thing she says that really made sense to me was, “…when we try to take people out of their challenge, or suffering, we take them out of the environment that offers them a rich learning experience”. I completely agree. I know that when I am put into a challenging situation I try to look at it as a learning experience and not just something to be angry about. Of course I still get upset sometimes, depending on the situation, but since I choose how I react to things, I choose to step back, look at my emotions, and release them. Once I release my negative feelings surrounding the matter, it opens up space for learning and growth. I am a firm believer that situations, people, experiences, etc, will keep showing up for you until you’ve learned the lesson you need to learn. There’s so much more I could say about this, but I’ll save that for another time.

Back to violence towards others….I don’t think I’m normally a “fixer”. I think all people, to some extent, when approached by a friend with an issue, will try to “help” or offer “support”, but going out of my way to try to fix an issue or fix a person really isn’t my thing. However, I will say this: I have a couple of people in my life that I am guilty of trying to “help” in the past. It’s not that I thought (or think) that I’m better or smarter than them; I genuinely want to help them be happier. They came to me with problems and would sometimes ask for advice, and sometimes didn’t ask, but I always gave it. Now, I’ve tried to shift how I approach these situations and come from a place of “support” instead.

For me, this shows itself as only listening. I no longer give my opinion if they don’t directly ask. I no longer offer advice, unless asked. I realized that in some situations, these people were doing the same thing repeatedly and I kept telling them the same thing repeatedly. What did this accomplish? Nothing. These people whom I love dearly and have respect for have to work out their own issues and me constantly trying to “help” them wasn’t really helping at all.

Developing Compassion

For TH/F/SA I used Deborah’s suggestion to “pretend you are complete”. She goes on further to say there is no need to expect anything from yourself or criticize or judge or change anything about you. What a lovely idea! Can you imagine how much happier we would all be we practiced this every day?!

I really loved this suggestion. This is something I actually tell my students almost every class. Not those exact words, of course, but I suggest that they simply observe. Observe how they are feeling mentally and emotionally and make no judgements about it. I tell them to observe the inconsistencies in the body and know that they are natural and that it’s ok. It’s so important to develop compassion for yourself so that you may then have compassion for others. If you are constantly berating yourself with negative or degrading thoughts, I PROMISE you, your body hears every. single. word. you are saying and responds in kind. If you spend your day calling yourself fat, your body goes, “Ok. I am fat. Sure. I can certainly do that”. If you tell your body, “Thank you for ALL that hard work you just did. I appreciate you and am proud of you for holding me up in Bakasana for the full 5 breaths. Thank you for navigating the weight changes in my hands and fingers and keeping me from falling on my face!”, your body will respond in a positive way!

Think of it this way: would you be friends with a person that spoke to you the way you speak to you? Would you want a friend to call you fat every time you said you were hungry? Would you want a friend to say to you, “Hell no you can’t do that arm balance. What’re you thinking dumbass?” I hope you answered with a resounding, “HELL NO!” And if you did, why are you talking to yourself that way? Would you talk to your best friend that way? Have some compassion for yourself and for others. But start with YOU.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m not down with the negative self talk. I honestly can’t remember back to high school (I sure did get down on the bud back then!), but I don’t think I’ve ever had an issue with this, at least not a big one. I take time after my asana practice to thank  my body, especially if I’ve done something new or challenging. Or sometimes it’s in the moment, during the asana. I think, “Wow! I had no idea I could do this. Thank you arms, legs, hip flexors”, etc. You get the idea.

If you think all this is silly, amuse yourself and do it for an ENTIRE week. Replace “fat” or “ugly” with “beautiful”. Replace, “you suck” with “you are amazing”,  or whatever positive word or phrase works for you. Do it for a week! Don’t skimp and do it for a day. A week will give you time to get out of the habit. And it is a habit. Start by simply observing. Observe your thoughts and look at them from an outside perspective. Maybe have a laugh at them! I sure do. Detach yourself from the negativity for 2 days, then on the 3rd start to replace the nasty word(s) with uplifting ones, then share with me what happened! Truly, I would love to know. I started this blog to make the world a happier place. I want to bring the happiness that I feel to others, so when I say I’m interested, I truly am. Please share!

Thanks for reading. The Light, Love, Beauty, and Truth within you is also within me and in this place we are one <3 Namaste Friends

Yamas book cover

2 thoughts on “Ahimsa Practice – Wk 2 – Violence towards Others & Compassion

  1. Oh I just love this entire post! But especially in the beginning, realizing the difference between helping and supporting. That’s huge. Reading that feels like a lightbulb moment for me. Thank you 🙂 (should really find that book…)

    I’m here from instagram, over there I’m findingmyexhale 🙂 xoxo

    1. You are so welcome! 🙂 I’m so pleased you liked it and those “lightbulb” moments have been so key for me in the past. I’m honored to do that for others!

      I found the book on Amazon. It’s so amazing. I’ve read through all the Yamas, but stopped there since I’m taking my time working through them. The pic at the bottom of the post is the actual cover of the book. Deborah Adele. Definitely worth owning! <3

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