The word –himsa means cruelty or violence, so ahimsa is a lack of violence or non-violence. In yoga, it seems obvious that you are not trying to physically harm your self with your practice. And when you are out in the world, you are not (I hope) harming people around you. But when we think of “non-harming”, it can apply to many more things than just the physical. I like to think of this as the yogic Golden Rule (Do unto others, as you have them do unto you).
When a co-worker brings in their exciting new news, and you are a Debbie Downer about it? You have “harmed” their feelings.
When you have the option between a Double Double and a delicious salad filled with nutritious vegetables and a delicious dressing? Choosing the Double Double harms your health and your body.
When you hold a pose in class past the point where it no longer feels comfortable? You have harmed your body.
I’m not saying that you have to be an upbeat person 24/7, because who is? But if each thought and action considered both our personal well-being and the well-being of those around us, would we do half of the things we do? It is hard to imagine ourselves as one tiny piece in this large world, but we are. And every thought and action of each piece of the puzzle has an affect on the others.
While being mindful of those around you, also pay attention to your own well-being. Whether it is the thoughts that come to mind, “Wow, that girl looks great in those pants, I could never pull them off”, your actions, or the words you say. If we are not kind with ourselves first, how can we expect to be kind to others?
So when you think or do something today, observe and notice if it is without harm or violence. Can you follow ahimsa, and truly be kind to yourself and others?
I will do no harm.