20 May 2010

Ahimsa - The first yama

Non-harming or avoidance of violence is a precept that appears in most religions. Ironically, it has often been in the name of religion that wars are fought - but you don't need me to tell you that. It seems we are, by nature, violent people. Add a drop of fear or jealousy, a bit of stress, a pinch of depression, and bang! anyone might react.

Violence usually arises out of fear, weakness, ignorance, or uneasiness. One of the most powerful aspects of ahimsa is the cultivation of gentle thoughts toward oneself and others - love. Metta meditation, which focuses on loving kindness, is one technique we can use to cultivate ahimsa. How else can we practice ahimsa in our daily lives? For one thing, recognizing the many ways that violence manifests is important. Accepting that we are capable of violence is also important.

Watching our words, acknowledging our thoughts, avoiding gossip, eating healthfully, surrounding ourselves with people who live and act in ways that are admirable, cultivating a contemplative practice, taking care of our bodies - these are all ways to create a life where ahimsa is present.

Everyone of us is a teacher on some level. Younger family members pay attention to us (well, usually); older family members may need our assistance more; neighbors and friends are affected by our words and actions. The theory goes, if we we are kind to ourselves we will understand how to be kind to others.

This morning I had tea with a new yoga teacher. We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of teaching in certain places. A yoga studio can be physically beautiful and employ teachers who look good but, ultimately, the respect shown to both students and teachers is what determines the vibe of a place. Maintaining ahimsa in business is a challenge.This must be acknowledged if we are to run a yoga business that embodies these teachings.

Sensitivity develops over time as we practice living our yoga. B.K.S. Iyengar compared yoga to light, indicating that the stronger your practice is the brighter your flame. This light reveals our true selves and exposes our shadow sides - we all have them.

May you have peace in your heart,
May you have peace in your mind,
and may we have peace in the world.

06 May 2010

Incredible OM

Thanks to Sara for sharing this article from The Guardian about research being done on the sound of Om. "Indian scientists wield sophisticated mathematics to dissect and analyse the traditional meditation chanting sound Om" - if you've ever wondered about some of the effects of chanting, click on title and read this.