If you are reading this, you have probably already embarked upon the journey of Yoga – the process of overcoming separation to experience Oneness. The process is not new, but quite ancient in fact. The system of yoga as we know it today was codified by the Master Yogi, dancer, doctor, and grammarian, Patanjali. In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali gives us a tested method towards yoga, most well-known as the eight-limbed path, that begins with the ethical precept of ahimsa. Ahimsa is most often translated as non-harming. Exploring this first step on the yogic path, and how to implement it, could be one of the most transformative journeys for a yogi.
The ethical precepts of the Yoga practices exist from human’s realization that we are all One. Therefore, the ethical restraints known as yamas, are ultimately the yogi’s guide on true respect, or true human decency. Though they say that all five of the yamas are equally important, they grow out of each other like Russian nesting dolls. The latter four yamas all nest within ahimsa. Ahimsa serves as the most foundational form of respect that all yogis are recommended to follow. Treat others how you want to be treated. We must be kind and respectful towards others while we still see others. If we deeply desire to clearly experience the divine fusion of merging the many into One, the practice of respecting others is our foundation for our clarity.
Clarity – being clear and clean – is what gives the aspirant the ability to see through the diversity and multiplicity of the earthly plane and into the unifying realms of our souls. Gaining clarity is like the process of cleaning house. We go in, we get rid of clutter, we sweep, we scrub, and we are left something dazzling. Ahimsa is the first task of cleaning up and getting tidy within ourselves. Cultivating the ability to have goodwill and fellowship with others that we share this planet allows us to declutter any jealousy, resentment, or anger we might carry. It allows to clean our inner homes by scrubbing away prejudices and preconceived ideas through compassion and friendliness.
When we can truly respect others, we can also feel gratitude for them. Conflict and argument only arises when respect is relinquished for the need to be right, better, and individualized. Through respect, we can lift others up because we are filled with gratitude for them. We want to celebrate and honor those around us as we see the reflections of the Divine within all. And understanding the unifying Truth of our essential natures, we realize that by lifting others up, we lift up our entire communities, including ourselves.
Through respect and goodwill towards those with which we share this world, we utilize our own power to change and uplift the world around us. This first step from the ancient method of yoga prepares us to be gracious shepherds of the Truth that we are all one, thus initiating the identification with the Spirit that permeates all of creation.
* Inspired by Light on Life by B.K.S. Iyengar.
Tips for incorporating ahimsa into your practice and life this month:
• The practice of gratitude is a natural segue into kindness and ahimsa. Gather and recognize the value in each other and all beings on Thanksgiving Day, 9:00am-10:30am, in our Gratitude Flow w/ Lexi.
• Let your practice give to the community. Drop in for a donation class and raffles during our Holiday Open House on November 11. All funds raised from the classes and raffles will be given to the Cucalorus Regional Education and Engagement Program--a program that teaches local youth healthy and critical ways to engage with the vast mediums of contemporary media.
• Offer the efforts of each practice to someone other than you. Even those people you don’t get along with. Allow fellowship to arise within you.
• Resist the patterns of engaging in battle with anyone. If you feel a disagreement arising, take a deep breath, remember that you are essentially the same as all others, and respond in the most respectful way possible – even if that is silence.
• Listen more deeply to others. Be respectful by allowing what others have to say take importance over what you might say or think.
**image from The Yoga Lunchbox