"OMG! You are such a yoga dork" This is what my friend, Val said to me once when I told her I was going to my teacher's house to study the Upanishads one Friday evening. I admit it, I am a dork. I can remember being kid and locking myself in my room and spending hours on my red bean bag chair reading book after book while the other neighborhood kids were outside. I guess I've always been a dork so why would I expect that to change now.
I am probably the only person I know who actually spends time - nearly every day - thinking and contemplating the Yamas and Niyamas. Remember those? They are the personal and social ethics that we yogis should be living by? (Val, you were right - I am a dork) I can't say that I've mastered them in any way but they are usually not far from my mind. My inner control freak likes the clear, straight forward way that Patanjali set down these guidelines for us.
I am curious, though, why does it seem that so few yogis actually follow these guidelines? It's no coincidence that Patanjali lists them as the 1st and 2nd steps on the 8-fold yoga path. They are the foundation of all spiritual practice.
In an effort to deepen my connection to my personal practice and in preparation to teach the yoga sutras I've decided to dive a little deeper into these principles. Perhaps you'd like to join me on this exploration. I'm not going to list them all now. I'm going to choose one at a time and I'm going to consciously put it into practice through out the day. I will give you my thoughts about how it goes via this blog. It would make sense to start with the first one but the first one is Ahimsa (non-harming) and since I've spend most of the day today mentally slapping people that would not be a good one to start with.
Well, maybe it's the perfect one to start with. Okay so, tomorrow. I'm going to try to practice Ahimsa in my thoughts, (Yes, I said thoughts) words, and deeds. The obvious thing we think about when we think non-harming is physical harm to others. But have you thought about the physical harm you are causing to yourself when you eat unhealthy foods? What about the physical harm from those (damn good) margaritas?
Being mindful not to do harm with our words towards others as well as ourselves. To be mindful means that we need to be present. I try my best not to use my words to hurt others but when I fail at ahimsa in my words it's usually when I am distracted or frustrated and not fully present. It's in those situations that I don't think before I speak and my words can sometimes be hurtful. (When that happens, apologize to the person you have hurt and then forgive yourself)
Holy Hell!!! Here's the hard one for me. Practice Ahimsa in your thoughts. That means no more mentally slapping people. :-( I have to say that the first time my teacher mentioned Ahimsa in my thoughts my mouth fell to the ground. DAMN! THAT WAS MY LAST GUILTY PLEASURE! Violence begins in the mind with our thoughts. Even when we aren't physically or verbally harming someone our thoughts may be projecting harmful energy towards others or ourselves. How many times have you had negative thoughts about yourself? If you're like me, a zillion times a day. Guess what?? That's not practicing Ahimsa.
You know what else?? I'm really glad that I don't have an official guru who can read my mind. Think about it, would you want your spiritual teacher knowing what goes on in your mind?? Considering the drama going on in my mind today...... Hell No!
Even if you think I'm a dork I still want you to join me on this adventure. Let's start with Ahimsa, non-harming. Tomorrow, practice Ahimsa and then leave a comment and let us know how you do. What was your biggest challenge? How did you feel at the end of the day? Remember: No judgement - simple observations. If you don't leave a comment I'll start obsessing over the fact that you all think I'm a dork so please - leave a comment - be anonymous if you want - but let me know what you discover...... Adventures are always more fun when you can share it with someone.