Ah-him-sah. Ahimsa is one of Patanjali’s Yama's and stands for the principal of non-violence toward all living things. It means not imposing violence or harm upon any and all living creatures and beings. It is the constant practice of loving-kindness.
You may be thinking: Cool, I’m not a harmful or violent person, I think I’ve got this one down.
Well, it gets a little more specific than that. Ahimsa includes not thinking, saying, wishing or doing harmful thoughts or actions upon anyone or anything. Including ourselves. In the yogic perspective, negative or harmful thoughts can be just as damaging and influential as harmful actions.
Yes, Ahimsa just became a little more of a challenge.
For those of you who hope to one day become forever enlightened, this will not be attained without somehow mastering ahimsa. Or at the least, giving it a really good shot. But whether we hope to levitate one day or not should not determine whether we bring a little more love and kindness into our lives.
The ways we can put Ahimsa into practice is endless. But while I have your attention, I’ll pounce on the opportunity to guide our attention to the way we eat. I believe that bringing ahimsa alone into our way of eating will kick start the journey of bringing our bodies and lives back into true balance inside and out.
HOW WE EAT
Eating with ahimsa asks us to eat with an element of stillness and peace. It quickly guides us to the question: “What is best for my body in this moment?” It guides us to make time to eat and allows time to digest. It moves us from “I don’t have time to eat healthy” to “In what ways can I nourish myself?” Ahimsa asks us to be with the food and taste the diverse flavours in each bite. It guides us to be totally in the moment with chewing, swallowing and the space in between.
WHAT WE EAT
The cool thing about practicing ahimsa while we eat is that eventually we can’t help but wonder – is this meal making me feel better or worse? Where did my food come from? How far did this travel to get to my plate? Is this meal going to nourish my body? Did this meal take more from the earth than what I have been giving back?
WHY WE EAT
Bringing love into the way we eat begins to reveal to us the underlying reasons we reach for food. It helps us to notice those moments of when we are eating because we are stressed, bored or frustrated. It also helps to clarify when we are eating because we are genuinely hungry. It guides us to eat for nourishment and asks us to listen to the needs of the body. We ask questions like: “what, other than food might my body need in this moment?”
Ahimsa is a lifetime practice of loving ourselves and others. Through starting with our own thoughts, actions and patterns with the way we eat, we explore the opportunity to bring love and respect to our bodies. This can be so much more beneficial physically and spiritually than any cleanse, diet or fad food trend could ever dream of.