Ananda Wellness Australia
Ayurveda, Yoga, Meditation and Massage in Melbourne

Ananda Wellness - Blog

Ahimsa for Wellness

Monday 2nd October marked the International Day of Non-Violence. This is the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.

According to the UN, who established the day, it is an occasion to "disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness".

This is of particular importance in current times, with all of the pain and suffering, injustice and intolerance we see around us in so many parts of the world. Violence and a disruption of peace happens in many forms and on many levels – it happens within us when we are at odds with ourselves, around us when we are at odds with others, and on a mass level when society is at odds with nature, and groups are at odds with each other.

So what can we do as yogi’s to play our part in making a difference today and everyday? This is where the yogic concept of ahmisa, comes into play and has never been more important. Ahimsa is a foundational concept of the eight limbed ashtanga yoga philosophy and is a Sanskrit word that is loosely defined as ‘kindness to the self’, or sensitivity, vulnerability, non violence…

It proposes that non-violence applies at all levels – within us it applies to our self –talk, our inner dialogue and the extent to which we are harsh and critical, externally it applies to our relationships with others, our acceptance of others and our ability to co-operate and be flexible with all of the differences that weave into the fabric of humanity. They start with you, within you.

Violence doesn't necessarily have to be overt to be labeled ‘violence’. There is a subtle form of violence expressed internally also when we are harsh and critical with ourselves. This impacts our sense of well-being and wellness. It affects our stress levels and mood. It impacts how we interact with others, and so on from there. Peace starts from within.

Coming back to ahimsa – let us consider the importance of a healthy inner dialogue.

“Ahimsa”, is loosely defined as ‘kindness to the self’, or sensitivity, vulnerability, non violence. When you are kind to yourself there is no destructive criticism. Mistakes happen, procrastination happens, slip ups happen. The practice of Ahimsa for ourselves protects our wellness in that we can be disciplined but kind. We make the effort to do things right but also know that not every day is going to be perfect... and that’s ok. When you are kind to yourself, you act from a place of peace and happiness, a place of inspiration, rather than from a place of being forced to do something, which is when it becomes a chore and at times creates stress. 

Have you heard of the apple experiment? This was conducted by Danielle De Laporte, and many others, where two halves of an apple are placed separately in air tight jars. Every day positive phrases were repeated to the half apple in one jar and negative phrases to the other. In about 2 - 3 weeks they had a look at each. And this is roughly what you get (see title picture). Positive appraisal of the self makes a big difference to well-being. You may also wish to look at Dr Masaru Emoto’s research on water and resonance for another example of this.

Keeping this lesson in mind, we can also move our practice of non-violence toward others – mindfully shifting the way we view others and their strengths and weaknesses, embracing our differences and most importantly accepting that we do not necessarily have to have automatically good intentions. In and amongst our wanting to be good and kind there will be jealousy, anger, selfishness. However, we can choose to assess these intentions and action the good ones – ones that lead to good outcomes for all. We can then also introspectively observe the undesirable ones to determine where and why they come up. That’s a another topic altogether that can be explored through self enquiry meditation.

But for now a good way to practice sharing good energy is by committing to something like a regular yoga and meditation practice for yourself; a sankalpa to set intentions and dedicate your good energy towards someone or someplace that needs it; healing meditations to ‘go to’ that place and heal yourself or others. These are subliminal acts but through continuous practice they become habits, values and ultimately become your little way of changing the world. 

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny" -       Mahatma Ghandi

ahimsa-for-wellness.jpg