Practice Non-Harming (Ahimsa) in Your Thoughts, Words, and Actions

A key component to a life framed with the teachings of yoga is following the ten guidelines (called the yamas and the niyamas) for relating to others and loving yourself. I will be teaching these guidelines one at a time with the hopes you, the reader, takes the time and care to implement these principles into your daily life. Notice your thoughts, words, and actions and if they are in alignment with the teachings. Moreover, I have frames each teaching within the realm of taking care of a baby or small child. If this is your world, then all the better! If you no longer take care of small children or you have never done so, let the idea of taking care of someone transfer over to something else you nurture— your work, your spouse, or perhaps your creative energy.

Non-harming (ahimsa) is the first of the yamas that starts you on your path. It’s not difficult to imagine being non-harming to another. You’d never hurt babies, loved ones, neighbors, or even a complete stranger.

But then ask yourself how you think of others. Do you think harmful things about them? For example, “Baby is being such a pest by not letting me sleep for an hour straight! Why is she being so selfish and crying all the time to nurse? I just fed her!” or “My neighbor is so horribly inconsiderate for letting his door slam when he comes home at night. He wakes up my baby every time. He’s rude and thoughtless.” Consider what you say. Do you ever pick up your baby and say (even in a sweet sing-song voice), “You’re being terribly annoying right now . . . did you really need to pee through another diaper after I just changed you? Don’t you know I need to get out the door? You’re being really wasteful!”

Words we say and think have power. I suggest working toward saying what we truly feel in ways that are non-harming. 

Non-harming invites us to discern the other side of the relationship and seek a fuller perspective on what is happening.

Returning to the first example, instead of thinking that your baby is a pest for not letting you sleep, instead consider this: “Baby needs my attention a lot more often right now, and it is really exhausting. I’ll do my best to keep up with her needs and hope she gets through this phase soon, so I can get more sleep. It must be frustrating for her to always need another person to satisfy her needs, and it’s such an honor to be the person she loves so much that I’m the one called to do it.” Do you see how it is the same scenario but a complete shift in perspective and approach to satisfy the problem? Once you start operating in a way that is non-harming, you frame your daily interactions with more compassion and action, not blame.

You can also apply non-harming to how you talk, think about, and care for yourself. Do you call yourself an inadequate mother? A failure? A lazy person? How is your self-image? Do you loathe parts (or all) of yourself? How can you find love and compassion for yourself in ways that motivate you to take appropriate self-care steps to nurture yourself? You may just find ways to take care of yourself that are better than anyone has been able to do for you.

How can you be non-harming in your thoughts? How you speak and act toward yourself? For example, are you delaying trips to the bathroom, denying food, or pushing too hard when you are tired? How might you be non-harming in your thoughts, words, and deeds to others? To the community? To the environment?

Comment below how you incorporate non-harming in your daily life. You can opt-in for my email list here to receive your Get Clear + Feel Dynamic toolkit for practices that set you up for non-harming practices.