Ahimsa, it’s a beautiful Sanskrit word that means to do no harm. It’s a principal component of the yoga practice. Many people, both yogis and non-yogis alike, subscribe to this observation and take the concept very seriously. They give up eating meat, becoming more conscious and aware of how they treat the world and others around them.
I challenge everyone to take ahimsa a step further and apply it to self-care. We often fall short of observing ahimsa when we address ourselves. Our words, phrases and actions can be harmful not just to others but to ourselves as well, and we need to remember that self-care is important if we also want to serve others.
The first step to self-care is language. What words are we using to describe ourselves and others? Are they helpful or harmful? I am removing these words, phrases and actions from my life starting now:
1. I can’t
It is powerful and crippling. It stops warriors dead in their tracks. “I can’t” essentially means I won’t even try. We need to at least try. We can’t move forward in our lives if we keep defeating ourselves with words like I can’t. We need to stop saying “I can’t” and start saying yes we can. Affirm the positive actions and words in your life and spend your energy concentrating on them.
This is yet another powerful word that creates shame and fear. No one is really stupid — not you, not anyone. When people make bad choice, a lot of times it is because they are unconscious and unaware — NOT because they are stupid. Raise your consciousness through yoga and meditation.
It’s a hateful word. It’s often used as a slur to put people down and we also often use it to describe ourselves. We all know that being overweight is not beneficial to anyone's health. and that it significantly increases the risks of disease — we all know this. But calling people fat doesn’t change who they are, and it takes the focus away from what positive things they have to offer the world.
4. Brutal Honesty
"Brutal honesty is not honest, it is just brutal." I am not sure who said this, but it is true. In my opinion, to brutalize someone in the name of honesty is just wrong. True honesty from a friend or colleague is empathic and compassionate. It creates a relationship of trust between two parties and is designed to help someone.
Brutal honesty is not an effective way to vent, show anger or disapproval of someone. It only creates hurt feelings and people rarely take the advice if it is offered by way of "brutal honesty." Brutality does not fit with the yogic principle of ahimsa because it does not cultivate positive actions.
Ahimsa means more than just non-violence. It means compassion, conscious awareness, and self-care. The words we use, the language we speak, and actions we take directly affect our lives and the people around us. By observing Ahimsa everyday and choosing our words and actions more carefully, we can make the world a more compassionate and inclusive place to live in.