The fundamental nature of happiness and our relationship between our inner world and the external world most often intertwine. Without realizing it, our happiness is often governed by the external world.
For example, if someone frowns at us, honks a horn at us, calls us crazy, disagrees with with some of our viewpoints or thinks badly of us, our happiness most often instantly becomes interrupted. That can play out into violence towards ourselves or to others.
This is where the concept of Ahimsa comes into play; the idea of non-violence towards ourselves or others.
Diving Deeper: Ahimsa
When I started my Yoga course in September of 2015, I had made a conscious decision to make Yoga and the concepts it teaches a big part of my daily life.
There were days back then when I’d get angry easily. Sometimes, I still do. I’m not a violent person, mind you, but I often had what I called “easily-interrupted happiness” which then turns into a pretty unstable life.
I get angry at x, I get angry at y, so the emotion of anger is clearly in the category of violence, even though I don’t physically react to these emotions.
Holding onto anger is like drinking cyanide and expecting it to kill your enemy. You’re only hurting yourself.
Ahimsa teaches the concept of letting go, finding peace and understanding that although life can be difficult, letting go of anger and violence is an important part of one’s life.
I realized before taking this course that happiness in general, not only my happiness, was and is extremely vulnerable and fragile; a raised eyebrow, critical comment or a negative remark is enough to blow one’s happiness away in an instant, and that’s not exactly saying something good.
What kind of happiness do we actually have if it’s so easily taken from us? How do we let these emotions go to the extent where our happiness isn’t dependent on external factors?
What we need to do is: be one with ourselves and expressing self-love and self-compassion? If we fail, we take a deep breath and try again. Self-love is all about giving ourselves all of the time in the world to be who we are, heal and grow.
Yoga was the best place to start to find these thoughts, so I decided to look into what it had to offer.
Ahimsa in My Daily Life
Until September of 2015, I’d never paid attention to my behaviors, my words or my thought process, because they’ve been used as a safety mechanism. Self-hate, annoyance; all of those really protect you from trying again and failing, because you want to be perfect and avoid things you may fail. So, I forgot all about those words; failure, loss, second-chances, etc. I simply started letting things happen, good or bad. It is what it is, as the saying goes.
Love is a thing of hope.
You forgive, you forget and you give second and third chances, because you have hope that things will change for the better. The same goes for life and even success. When the going gets tough, though, we often don’t give ourselves that second or third chance. Instead, we will come up with the idea that everything is working against us. So, why bother, right?
Life is… pain?
It’s important to know that there’s nothing you can do to prevent yourself from getting hurt by someone or something. Violence seems to be a natural reaction from people today. I’m not talking about physical violence, although that too, exists. I’m talking about violence as a form of self-destructive behavior. We’re too focused on the destination that we forget that it’s really all about the journey.
If we learn to accept peace and let go of difficult stressors in our lives, we’re following Ahimsa. In that way, we can eliminate violence from within ourselves. Oftentimes, I will associate Ahimsa (or Yoga in general) to my advice in writing.
Just do it. No matter what. Practice writing, and write every day. Write for yourself. But don’t think of the outcome, think of the process. Scribble. Write down random words that pop into your head, make it part of your story later. The moment you have an idea at some random time, quickly jot it down. Do it, don’t think.
If we take Ahimsa and use it in that manner, we’ll learn to observe our emotions, recognize them, but we won’t allow them to take control of us. It’s there to serve us, not the other way around.
“Well, I have that under control! Simple enough.” I thought to myself.
It wasn’t. I dislike many things. I have hatred towards others. I don’t gossip and I’m not blunt, but the act of disliking or hating alone already contradicts the concepts of Ahimsa. I don’t (intentionally) hurt people’s feelings, but even then, Ahimsa seems to claim that nothing is accidental:
- We must think about what we’re saying before we say it.
- We must think about why we want to say what we’re going to say.
- We must not push ourselves or others to the point of physical or emotional pain. Do your best.
The moment we’re pressuring ourselves, or staying up late to finish work, we’re already doing damage to ourselves. We must act in a way that is peaceful, do everything in a calm state of mind, the result does not matter. Not if we believe in ourselves enough.
In that realm of spirituality, one is so deeply connected with themselves, that they govern their own happiness. This means that there is no destructive behavior. Not even thoughts. We’re not worried about anything that’s happening outside of our control.
What if one, such as myself, had an anxiety disorder? Does that contradict the points of Ahimsa? It certainly does, because it’s all about understanding ourselves, our mental and physical health.
The most interesting part of Ahimsa was that when I truly started utilizing it in my life, for the most part, it helped my partner and I communicate in a more communicative manner. I knew where I stood emotionally, because my happiness was no longer governed by others. I am me. If you don’t like me, simply walk away, it doesn’t matter to me.
To put it simply, I wouldn’t react to certain emotions or triggers. If one would disagree with me, then that would be their opinion and that’s fine. If someone makes a critical remark, well, that’s just another person’s opinion. They’re either having a bad day or expressing honestly. It’s accepted, but if it’s not something that encourages me, then it has no meaning in my life. It’s as simple as that. I had most things in control.