Living Free From Harm

Most of us would probably like to think of ourselves as being reasonably nice, decent people. But how aware are we really of not only all our actions, but also our thoughts and intentions?

Imagine spending one whole day being fully observant of your every movement, word and facial expression. Do you think you might see the occasional cold shoulder, unnecessary criticism or gossip, a few frowns here and there?

Living a life of pure, continuous, unconditional compassion and understanding is a life’s work!

In Yoga, the great sage Patanjali calls this Ahimsa, literally translated as non violence.

Ahimsa is part of 10 ethical considerations and behavioural observances called Yamas and Niyamas, as set out in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

This beautiful and ancient book gives practical and spiritual guidance on how to live a compassionate life on the path to enlightenment.

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I have been thinking about what living a life of non violence would entail, aside from the obvious absence of physical harm and killing. I have come up with:

Gentleness
Not being harshly critical
Not gossiping
Patience
Compassion
Non judgmental thoughts
Being courteous
Avoiding harshly disliking
Not feeling irritated
Calmness
Generosity
Understanding
Not projecting emotions on others
Warm body language

There is also the concept of not supporting others who cause violence, for example, not buying meat or dairy products from companies that inflict suffering on the animals.

Whilst living by these ideals, it could be very easy to become passive and allow others to take advantage of our gentle nature. However, the key is to be assertive and to act with love and clarity.

After all, allowing others to harm you is in turn you being violent towards yourself, so defending yourself does not break your intention of Ahimsa.

I will aim to change the habitual cycles of being guarded, judgmental and critical by approaching what this month brings with an open and grateful heart.

I believe the key is to accept my inability to be constantly compassionate with compassion, and to smile at the irony!

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