The road to ahimsa is long, unruly, daunting, and many more things, but when one learns to practice non-violence, life can be profoundly rewarding. “Ahimsa is the highest duty. Even if we cannot practice it in full, we must try to understand it’s spirit and refrain as far as is humanly possible from violence.” Ghandi. As Ghandi notes, it cannot always be practiced in full, due to many life challenges, but when we refrain from cruelty, we are one step closer to really diving into the yogic life. This tenet of ahimsa is so fascinating to me because it doesn’t just encompass non-violence to others, but it also speaks to the self—-the ego, the mind, the body. Sure, we all know that we should love one another, but how can we truly love another person if we do not love ourselves first. The practice of ahimsa requires constant introspection, a deep approval of the innermost workings of our mind, and most importantly the ability to see ourselves as unique individuals with amazing talents.
For me, ahimsa has been something that I feel I have come to really appreciate. So many people live by the adage, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” which to me is very bizarre. Why not try to make the world a better place by helping others out when needed? In my life, the implementation of ahimsa has been on a steady rise, both on a personal level and on a more universal level. A lot of times I get caught up in work and don’t take the personal time I need to cultivate my own spirituality, develop mentally, or even take the time to decompress and work out. Sometimes my life can be so chaotic that I am working 18 hours a day, which is never good. And while my mind is taken up by mundane thoughts, I don’t really get to focus on what I need personally. So at the start of last year I made a pact to myself to listen to my body and become more mindful of the state it was in. If I needed rest, I would call someone in early to work and I would take that time to myself to reflect, or workout, or do whatever it was I needed to do to decompress. And on a more planetary level, I have been *mostly* vegetarian for about 15 years now (when I say mostly, I mean I will eat fish once a month or so). And I have to say, the thought of not harming animals really does wonders for the psyche.