There is always... Beauty in the broken . Magic in the darkness . Light in the shadows . Order in the chaos . Joy in the moment
If we allow ourselves to see. to arrive in the here and the now. to open to the synchronicities at play. If we continually give ourselves the gift of this moment. this breath, we will gently move with the flow of the universe.
Today was such that day for me…
After doing some computer recon, I left the house with the intention of hiking the North Mountain National trail. The directions via AllTrails landed me in a sea of parking lots overflowing with cars.
I sigh of disappointment leaves my body. However, I decide to check the trail map anyway, learning that I am not even close to the the trail I was hoping to hike.
With some irritation rising in my chest, I choose to stay here and hike the Mohave trail. I begin the hike feeling deflated and kind of frustrated. Part way up I pause, I choose to gift myself this moment. this breath. As I hike I realize, there is no one else on the trail.
I feel his wave of calm come over me, although this is a shorter hike than planned. The trail is quiet. I casually hike my way to the ridge line. I sit at the top to find stillness within as I hear the soft hum of the traffic below.
In stillness one can hear their thoughts with more clarity and less chaos. One can discern more accurately the thoughts that do not serve their higher being.
Use this discernment to let go of those thoughts. to bring forth thinking that serves, lifts, and supports your whole being.
What is it that you saw first?
Strands of darkness?
Rays of light?
What did you notice first?
The sun. The leaves. The water. The trees. The vines. The blue sky. A big tangled mess. Nature’s beauty.
When was the last time you stopped to look, to feel and to listen to see where your mind automatically goes first?
What is your mind’s default setting?
In the wake of all that has been happening in our world, I feel I am revisiting the yoga philosophy and practices at just the perfect time. I began reading a book on the Yamas & Niyamas. The Yamas & Niyamas are the foundation to all yogic thought. It is not a religion in and of itself but rather a way of life. You can think of them as guidelines, precepts, ethical disciplines or restraints and observances. There are 10 jewels in all – the first 5 being the Yamas (restraints) and the last 5 the Niyamas (observances).
Yamas = Nonviolence, Truthfulness, Non-stealing, Non-excess, Non-possessiveness
Niyamas = Purity, Contentment, Self-discipline, Self-study, Surrender
The first jewel, Ahimsa or non-violence has resonated with me since I first learned of its full meaning and the real intention behind the practice. Ahimsa is non-violence in your words, thoughts and actions not only in regards to those we love but towards all people, animals, the Earth and most importantly oneself.
Ahimsa takes courage, balance, self-love and compassion. “We learn compassion as we dissolve our personal version of the world, and grow gentle eyes that are not afraid to see reality as it is.” This takes courage. Courage to step outside of societal norms. Courage to accept not only ourselves but others just as they are. Courage to learn the difference between belonging and fitting in. Courage to discern between real fear that keeps you alive and fear that keeps you from living.
Here are 5 ways to begin practicing Ahimsa.
- Begin by doing one thing daily you normally wouldn’t do. If you’re feeling brave, make that one thing that scares you.
- Create balance by finding guidance from messages of your body. Practice yoga or find movement through a connection to your breath and listen.
- Notice what you might be avoiding in your own life because you are so interested in others lives. Are you a worrier? A fixer? Discern the difference between ‘help’ and ‘support’.
- Pretend you are complete. There is no need to expect anything from yourself or to criticize or judge or change anything about you.
- Start practicing Tonglen or Metta (loving-kindness) Meditation.
I try everyday to live with ahimsa. For me, I keep the word and its full intention in the forefront of my mind. No, it is not always easy however it becomes easier over time. I am catching myself more quickly when I begin to judge or make not-so-nice comments/thoughts. I have also stopped beating myself up every time I slip up, recognizing that I too am living a human life and am not perfect.
It begins with loving yourself. Accepting you for you….just as you are. Then and only then can you truly love another. Then and only then will you truly respect, care for and cherish the Earth and everything on it. Then and only then will you begin to realize that your health is directly related to the health of the environment and want to protect it.
“Our inability to love and accept all the pieces of ourselves creates ripples – tiny acts a violence – that have huge and lasting impacts on others.”
You can learn more about all 10 jewels by reading The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele. (some of the words/phrases in this post come from the aforementioned book).