Last year at Bhakti Fest, one of the MCs talked about a lifestyle challenge he entered as a way to improve his health. As he started the new vegan raw diet, he realized that his new diet is part of what Ahimsa in the yoga world means: Non-violence towards animals. I connected to that because being a vegan for me now is more of a choice-of-energy that enters my body than non-cruelty towards animals. But I knew Ahimsa meant much more beyond food. I was inspired by this topic and wrote about it on my post for MentalBlox.com. Here is a copy of the post:
Ahimsa | The Non-Violent Spiritual Diet
If you are a student of Yoga, whether itâ€™s the asana practice only or all the other parts of yoga, you have heard the term Ahimsa. It means non-violence and avoiding harming ourselves and others including animals. Many yogis and yoginis are vegetarian or vegan, because, a true practitioner of yoga will take a vow of non-violence. Eating animals is part of Ahimsa because of the suffering and the violence animals are submitted before they died to become food on a plate. Vegetarism is a start, but Ahimsa is much more beyond being a vegetarian.
You Are What You Eat
I chose to become a vegan many years ago, at the beginning for health reasons, but now I choose to stay vegan for energy reasons. I donâ€™t want the energy of another being in my body; I feel it affects my spiritual path, especially if the animal was hurt and tortured during the dying process to become food for humans. Iâ€™m fortunate to be allergic to eggs and dairy and therefore Iâ€™m not able to eat those either. Many of my friends have been able to get deeper once they adjust their diets to the principal of Ahimsa. And itâ€™s no surprise that many religions avoid eating certain animals because they might not be as â€œpureâ€ as others or because some animals are sacred and cannot be consumed.
Walking The Walk
When I started learning more about yoga, deepening my practice thru my teacher training, I became more aware of the term Ahimsa and why it was important in order to advance in my spiritual path. I felt great I was a vegan and thought that was all to it. Ahimsa doesnâ€™t just refer to food and the killing of animals for food. It refers to everything in our lives, not having harmful thoughts about ourselves or others and other violent actions that lead to negative emotions like anger, frustration, fear, rage, and anxiety. So I had to stop wishing people on the road traffic tickets for bad driving, getting angry at my cat for spitting hairballs on my white couch, or killing roaches that come in to my house after a rainy day.
But the most difficult part has been not wounding and hurting me with my thoughts. Every time we judge ourselves and say mean things, we hurt our souls and self-esteem. I know it sounds corny but itâ€™s true. Saying â€œIâ€™m fat and ugly, nothing fits meâ€, or â€œI have a horrible hair dayâ€, or â€œIâ€™m so stupidâ€. Even not saying it out loud but thinking it, we are hurting ourselves. And if you have children or siblings that look up to you, they are learning from you to say those things about themselves too.
It may take a while for us to get used to being more loving towards ourselves and others. I started moving to the middle lane when I see a car coming fast behind me on the left lane, so instead of wishing them a ticket, I let them pass me. I stop telling myself how â€œfat I feelâ€ when clothes donâ€™t fit or calling myself â€œstupidâ€ for closing a drawer on my fingers. One might be clumsy at times but it doesnâ€™t mean we have to call ourselves a name or attach a negative feeling to that. Love your clumsy curvy self and the roaches or other animals that share this earth with us. That is the first step to Ahimsa.
Are there other ways you have come to realized Ahimsa applies in your life? Share with us!