Updated: Jun 2, 2020
‘In the presence of one firmly established in non violence, all hostilities cease’ Sutra 2:35
Part of the Yamas of Patanjali invites us to consider violence and to work towards a non violence way of being on the path to higher consciousness. This might seem obvious on first glance and echo some of the religious texts but there is far more to this if we dig deeper. Think about childhood… was there a time in our lives free of evaluation, judgement, comparison, success and failure, good and bad. An innocence and a freedom a time when we didn’t harm ourselves through thought, criticism, rejection or hate.
Ahimsa asks us to meet ourselves with care, support, encouragement – to be the support, the nurturer, the champion, the safe place to be whatever we are.
When I think of my client work, it seems that we do have a phase of life that we encounter ourselves in this way – a youngster climbing a tree for climbing sake, splashing in puddles, squidging fingers into paint to make our mark on the paper. But gradually we get compared to others whether it be siblings or classmates for our ‘aptitudes and talents’. Clients speak of those feelings when in PE class of looking down the line at the other girls/boys and realising, I’m not like them, I’m not as good or able as them, I’m taller/shorter/thinner/bigger than them. Isn’t it wretched the idea that no matter what form we take, we would be shown our unacceptability in some way. A perfect example of this I recall was how the class laughed at the first girl to ever wear a bra and at the last girl who hadn’t developed enough to need one…. you were never safe, it was never just okay to be you and none of us were taught to love ourselves enough to bulletproof us against this stuff.
Then as we venture out from the fog of puberty we then see a wider world which provides even more evidence of our unacceptability. Posters, magazines, videos and adverts of a beautiful photoshopped world that also tells us that our imperfections are more than enough to put us to the back of the line of opportunity, of equality, of acceptability, of being ‘enough’.
We get so many mile markers on this path to show us this, that it can become our own voice, our on way of relating to ourselves. We become our punisher for this unacceptability, our harshest critic, our quickest enemy to take up the spear and draw blood. Bleeding becomes so familiar that a new dress, a first date, a family event all bring about the usual bruising and we are left isolated, unprotected and at war with the world and ourselves.
We have to reach a point of awareness, of frustration, of pain that we put down our weapons against ourselves. Some find this through therapy, some through music, gardening, love, childbirth… some find this through yoga. If I’m honest, I have had to weave strands of all of these things to find a way to tolerate (at first) myself, then to like and then to find love for. A non-harming, non violence, non rejecting way of being with me. No more harsh words, no more looks in the mirror to find the mess that is me, no more blame and carrying the responsibility for other peoples flaws or behaviours.
Ahimsa, learning to be the protector of the vulnerable one within, learning to love regardless of flaw and imperfection, learning to allow myself to learn to do this without judgement, labelling, shame or expectation. Non-violence – love, care, tenderness for all our colours, all our darkness and all our light.