Updated: Jul 29, 2019
Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word that translates in English to non-violence or a lack of injustice and cruelty. This word appears simple but is so much more than that. It encompasses kindness, friendliness, thoughtful consideration of yourself and other people and things; making it multi-faceted. This layered word when broken down seeps into our actions, belief systems and thoughts patterns. It's amazing how one word in essence is encouraging you to be your best self in mind, body and spirit. Simply put it is about being compassionate rather than destruction in all avenues in life.
Our society has groomed us so that a good majority of people are fairly good at analyzing their own behaviours and outward responses to situations but have you stopped to explore further the thoughts behind the actions? Not just the thought(s) you have processed, mulled over and groomed into a response but rather the initial thought that pops into your head?
My understanding of this word ahimsa has caused me to stop and assess how I think. Revealing how quickly I pass judgement on people and situations; including myself. It is so automatic to allow our ego, stigmas and schema's to take over our beliefs and opinions of a situation. It's actually quite natural for us to do this without giving it much thought. In psychology they call it schema’s which essentially is how our brain categorizes and organizes patterns of thoughts and behaviour's based off the information and relationships surrounding the stimuli. This creates our foundations and framework of understanding and interrupting future scenarios. I remember learning about these schema's.
Working in the mental health field taught me how words and behaviour's can dramatically impact an individual. I learned quickly how to adapt my behaviour --- becoming a chameleon of sorts --- so that my patients would get the best out of their treatment. My thoughts didn’t always align with my behaviour and due the precarious situations I often found myself in, it was okay at the time.
Our behaviour is the way in which we conduct ourselves to others, something that sometimes is different than a thought. A thought is an idea or opinion that occurs suddenly in the mind that more often is not shared with others. It wasn’t until recently that I realized a thought, though brief and perhaps not shared out loud, can be quite impacting on both a positive and negative circuitry's within the brain. I worked in mental health so this concept should not be new to me... Especially since I was working in an environment where my patients were suicidal, in dark places, fighting their inner demons. I saw first hand the impact negative thoughts can have on the psyche. Yet it wasn't until recently that I took a deep look at my own thought patterns.
Introspectively, I never paused to reflect on the clarity and impact that my own thoughts had on my own neurons and synapses. Similar to most people, I am my own worst critic in nearly every aspect of my life. I didn’t realize how quickly my thoughts jump to conclusions about myself and others. I was so quick to dismiss my progress, chalking it up to luck or normalcy. Seldom patting myself on the back for a job well done. Honestly, I was not very kind to myself for the accomplishments I have done on this planet in my 25 years.Recently, I paused and am continuing to see myself for what I truly am: a human trying to make this world a better place.
Retrospectively, every single soul on this planet has their own story, their own life, and their own reasons for being in the position that they are in. Who am I to pretend to understand their journey after a few seconds or minutes of meeting them? If I judge myself so harshly, I am sure others do the same to themselves. Why should I use my thoughts to pass judgment, or think negatively about an individual I may or may not know. Instead I want to harness that energy and be kind to them, seek better understanding of their current situation and offer them and myself the best version of myself.
I encourage you to give it a try. Start paying attention to your thoughts and the tone it sets within yourself. This is an on-going evolution within myself, as I cultivate new thought patterns, evolve my beliefs and deepen my practice. This word has made me kinder to myself and to have more compassion, consideration and empathy towards others and their life. Imagine a world where we all think in kindness. This would inevitably make our behaviour's compliment our thoughts, reduce negativity and hatred, bettering who we are on this planet.