Chilling after a WEIRD week by ruminating on Ahimsa…

Last week was weird.

I mean, really, freaking weird.

I can’t even tell you everything that made last week weird. Some of it is inexplicable, some of it is confidential, and some of it I just won’t waste my words trying to explain it all.

These are my new plants, Steve and Latisha. They’re pretty nonviolent, I think, but you never know what they might be plotting in those crafty little pots.

But then, to top it all off, my husband spent the weekend in Arizona for spring training, and I was left alone to digest all of the weirdness that was this week alone. 

Copious amounts of wine were drank. Ample amounts of television watched. Ridiculous quantities of frozen food were consumed. And a lot of work got done, too, because I don’t remember to relax when Keith isn’t here reminding me to stop working.

Cue to this week’s Sunday class. I usually plan ahead some sort of theme, and a week ago, Deborah Adele, the author of The Yamas and Niyamas, came into town and did a full day long workshop on the topic. Excuse my naiveté when I say I hadn’t read the book prior to taking that workshop. I had bought the book several years ago, but it remained unopened on my shelf. I figured maybe this would be the catalyst to opening it up.

When I first heard about the yamas and niyamas (the ethical and personal observances of yoga – or, as I refer to them, the “Ten Commandments” of yoga), I was enthralled. Who knew that what I thought of as a series of exercises had such an extensive moral foundation that needed to be observed? I walked around touting the concepts of ahimsa and satya like I was some elevated saint, because I had heard the truth about yoga and now I was going to let you know. What a pompous asshole I was.

A few years later, and prior to this workshop, I easily passed them off as stuff that we all do. Yeah yeah yeah, everyone knows to be nonviolent and shit. I don’t punch anyone so I’m good. And seeing as every other yama and niyama really can be categorized under ahimsa – or nonviolence – I really don’t need to study that, and I’d rather focus my efforts on trauma or learning about the gods and goddesses or meditating.

There was nothing flashy or fancy about the workshop – and Deborah is very soft spoken, which made me strain to hear in the first half of the day . But it made me think. During the second half I had forgotten about my slight annoyance having to listen extra intently to her, and I became absorbed and excited to listen to her speak. She even mentioned one of my favorite stories of Kali, which got me into a tizzy of excitement.

Anyway, so it left me feeling like I needed to go back to the basics. And like maybe I should actually read this book that’s been unopened on my shelf.

When planning what to teach for Sunday, I figured I would start with ahimsa – or nonviolence. I read the chapter and was floored at the ways I was unknowingly and unintentionally inflicting violence upon myself and others. Here’s the part that resonated most deeply for me:

Think about the times you were “short” with others, because of too much work to do, or too much caffeine and sugar, or a restless night of sleep. Imbalance in our system is a certainty for violence, as the “dis-ease” we feel within finds a way to expression outwards.               -Deborah Adele, The Yamas and Niyamas

Well, fuck. I notoriously overbook my schedule; I’m known for my hanger rampages; I often fail to walk our pup because I have to much else going on.

While this, of course, is not the same kind of violence as punching your neighbor or shooting up unsuspecting moviegoers, there’s definitely a truth to the fact that my inability to find balance promotes violence through my outbursts, through my short temper, and through my neglect for my poor pup.

One of my non-negotiables this year is to get the locations that I teach down to five or less. Right now I’m sitting high and mighty at nine, and each time I go to leave an old one, something new pops up in its place. Cutting down is hard. Financially it’s scary, although I have lots of plans to make up income in other ways. It’s also hard to leave places I love, classes that have great energy (they all do), and the people who come to them. But I just can’t go on like this any longer.

Five or less. Five or less. Five or less.

It’s like Sophie’s choice, guys.

Anyway, here’s some fat to chew for you:

  • In what ways are you perpetuating violence, even if it’s not in the most obvious of ways?
  • What can you do to cultivate better balance in your life to avoid short tempers, missed appointments, and overbooked schedules?
  • In what ways can you treat your self with less violence? We often focus on our external actions, but ahimsa – nonviolence – begins with the ability to truly love your self. How can you cultivate this?

Let me know what you think. Have a happy week, my friends!

Mookie’s not that great with nonviolence, either. He loves to bite.

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