The practice of Abhaya-Fearlessness this week is to look deeply and work with the idea on Non-Violence, Ahimsa, in our lives, thoughts, and actions.
The Sanskrit term Ahimsa denotes «not hurting», or «having compassion». Non-hurting others, or non-violence extends to all sentient beings, humans, animals, and other living beings in nature, and the earth herself. It is inspired by the truth that all sentient beings have the spark of divinity in them, thus to hurt others is to hurt the essential nature inside us, or to hurt the spiritual aspect in ourselves which perceives all events. Of course Ahimsa is based on being kind to ourselves first; we are the origin of our world.
Note that the symbol of Ahimsa is often presented as the hand of Abhaya. In other words, No Fear and No Violence go together. Interesting? What do you make of that?
Ahimsa, Non Violence, is the quality of our heart that is expressed through our thoughts and realized through our organs of action, our tongue, hands & feet, sexual organs, body. On an internal level violence is the tension associated with negative thoughts and emotions. When we do not recognize our true nature, which in its essence is beautiful and pure, we feel the stress of emotions that stem from anger, guilt, jealously, low self esteem, attachments, and obsessions. All these emotions are reactions that spring from the erroneous ideas of who we really are. The practice of looking inwardly and working on the Eightfold Path helps to clarify and untangle the confusion of our inner world, so that we may reach the place of peace and harmony with ourselves the world surrounding us.
It is said, that self realization is not about becoming something else, but discovering the person we always were. Just like peeling an onion by shedding off our habits and mental notions about life, others, and ourselves, we will eventually reach our tender and luminous center. Touching this juicy point in the core of our heart, we feel enormous joy, love, and freedom. Getting to know our true self, we experience a fresh, surprising, and limitless sense of happiness.
Let me just add that Non Violence, just as stated by Martin Luther King is not synonymous with No Resistance towards powers that are oppressive, or unfair. Quite the opposite: the purity of intention makes humans brave enough to take the action that is needed for balance and fairness.
Now, how do we start working with Ahimsa on a personal level?
In the beginning this undertaking may feel huge, even chaotic. How do we observe habits we do not like, or approve off in ourselves, habits that cause us fear and confusion? Our habits seem to have a power of their own, a momentum that goes faster than our thoughts or means of controling them. We are simply at a loss at how to change the whole game. Well, the most important step is the first one, telling ourselves that we are ready to start this practice, or at least that we are ready to take a serious look at our stance towards Ahimsa in our lives. Ready;
Maybe we can get started with the following 7 STEPS OF AHIMSA work:
1) WHY? AFFIRM IT
First we create an inner focus; we turn our awareness on Ahimsa. It comes with the decision to look at our attitude towards Non-Violence. And the decision lies along side the question of “why.” WHY should I make this effort in my life? We each have to ask this of ourselves and find our own reasons for embarking on this effort. The answer has to do with our innermost wish, desire, or Iccha for our life. What is it that we really want from the very depths of our hearts for ourselves and for others? Once we have asked this question, it is helpful to state our wish or to express it with a positive affirmation. You can write out your own affirmation, or it can be something like…
I choose to live my life with Ahimsa—Non Violence. I can be friendly, welcoming, and compassionate towards all beings that I encounter.
2) PAY ATTENTION
Once we take on Ahimsa as our focus for the week of for now, we start to pay careful attention to our thoughts and actions during the day. We try to remember to be observant. Use reminders like a favorite poem, a saying, or the photograph of something or someone who reminds us of non-violence and goodness. Thus we draw inspiration. We may not be able to personally reach the ideal of Gandhi today, but with every slight effort we make, we approach our own ideal. The same way that in hatha yoga we consider that there is an ideal blueprint for the body, there is an ideal blueprint for our character. The closer we get to it, the better we feel. Gradually, we become our real self, positive, open, and fearless.
3) BE PATIENT NOT CRITICAL
We exercise patience. We will see ourselves failing in ahimsa, and in being compassionate again and again. Instead of being critical, of hiding or finding excuses, let us cultivate a sense of humor and patience for ourselves.
4) REFOCUS AND RETUNE
Our continuous attention, observation, and repetition of our mantra or affirmation, will help to remind and realign us again and again. As we repeat this action continuously, we help to uproot our old habits and re-establish a new set of habits in our psyche.
5) GO DEEPER, UPROOT THE WEEDS
One way that tension and violence exists in the depths of our psyche is through negative thinking patterns towards ourselves or others. At this point we need to start combing our thoughts, memories, theories about life events with immense friendliness, understanding, and patience. It will take time to get unglued from our favorite scenarios, and stories about being victims and victimizers. Zen Master Mel Weisman used to urge his students in meditation: “You have to kill all your little darlings”, meaning our habitual stories, the ones that we are more attached to. We can simply recognize that these scenarios are not helping us anymore. Their only use to us today is to weigh us down. It would be much easier to accept what is and what was, to forgive and to throw away the past form our shoulders so that we may be able to move forward with a new lighter and fearless self!
Can you recognize habit(s) of being unkind in your life?
What about a story that you have been carrying that only adds weight to your emotional life?
Can you imagine how it would be to live without the particular story?
Can you pinpoint a habit or negative trait that you were able to overcome through your Ahimsa practice?
6) IT GEST SUBTLER
Getting rid of the huge glaring weeds in our minds, will allow us to see the subtler behavioral patterns and attitudes towards phenomena in our lives. With time it will be easier to discriminate and get rid of even more and more imperceptible habits or theories that hold us back. Housecleaning continues till there is only the pure sense of love and joy or pure compassion (sadness at witnessing pain) reflecting off of each event in our inner and outer world.
For me this subtler work is manifesting with a recent realization: I find myself resenting certain spiritual teachers, and especially some fellow yoga teachers for not upholding standards that they teach, or for putting on the front of a nice person for their students, while festering greed or insecurity behind the stage. I realized that this personal view is also based on my negativity or sense of competitiveness, and that this kind of thinking really does not serve me anymore. We can simply make more careful choices about what or whom we invite into our lives. Negativity and competition are traits that reigned in the ages before us, but now, in this new age of the aquarium, it behooves to work in a cooperative, friendly fashion with people who share the same values and goals with us. Thus the purity and clarity of our mind and heart, deeply rooted in Ahimsa, will find the right partners to dance and co-create with in real life!
Can you now start to recognize a more subtle way that you are creating inner stress/weight?
Can you apply Ahimsa to the story and see how it manifests?
7) STAY OPTIMISTIC: AHIMSA IS BLOSSOMING THROUGH YOU.
Please be assured that the wheel of change is starting to turn at the very moment that you decide to look at Ahimsa; if you are willing to put in the time and the effort of watching and cultivating this principle in your life, you will start to witness extremely positive and beneficial changes. Small they may seem to you in the beginning, gut over time you will see yourself becoming free of so many bondages. The heart definitely becomes lighter and freer. You acquire a clear new focus, new direction for your life, and you find that life starts going better and better for you. Not only do you have much more energy for the things that you really want to do, but the universe is rewarding you by making your chosen path much more easier and more enjoyable. It is a fact: all our hard work is reflected back to us in ways that we never suspected.
Also: keep a diary of your thoughts and process of working with Ahimsa and other values. It will help you to find a necessary focus and expression through the whole flow of this process.
The practice of Ahimsa is simply the way through which our own real self is longing to blossom from the inside. When we give ourselves the focus and the opportunity to realign with its true nature, then blossoming, opening, and becoming a freer and happier human being are the natural outcomes of the path we have chosen.
Please keep encouraging yourself to continue doing the work that simply feels good
Ahimsa is synonymous to joy and harmony.
With Abhaya –Fearless greetings from the heart,