Monday, July 23, 2012

ahimsa & reflection on violence

© Nance Thacker 1990
click on image to enlarge
When I was living in Victoria and teaching yoga at the Y in the early '80's, many of us yoga teachers would meet in the snack bar at the Y after Shirley's morning classes. Lively conversations were had regarding the challenges yogis faced in living the life of the house-holder. Having no home, no family and being 15 - 20 years younger than most of the others, I was a "fly on the wall", privy to conversations about life events I had not yet experienced. It was with these women that I became educated about the challenges my future could hold.

The cartoon is a record of an actual conversation Carol, who was raising young twins at the time, had with the others; the best humour is found in truth.

The massacre in Colorado has me reflecting on the reality that we are a violent species and the sooner we realize this the better off we will be. It is not the "other" guy that is to blame for the condition of our society today, but ourselves as a collective and what we contribute as individuals. Our saving grace is that we are also a peaceful species. Which predominates depends on where we put our focus.

Our yoga group also participated in BEYOND HATHA YOGA a discussion group that explored the works of Swami Radha and the 8 limbs of yoga aka ashtanga yoga (an aspect of raja yoga - the cultivation of the mind through meditation in order to become acquainted with reality and ultimately achieve liberation) and, in particular, the yamas (abstentions) external aids to yoga. Ahimsa - non-violence in thought, word and deed, kindness towards all beings, avoidance of verbal and physical violence towards others and oneself is one of the 5 abstentions and was a prime area of under investigation.

My particular focus of late has been to check my tendency to swear when I'm frustrated. I don't swear at people, only at things (as if that makes it any better) - like computers - (apologies to my trusty laptop with which I am writing these words) which seems innocuous on the surface but investigate a little deeper and you will find it is a habitual reaction coming from a place of anger and aggression; aspects of violence. This realization became obvious during my self-study. Swearing is an aversion a resistance to what is; a resistance to "reality".

My visits to my nursing home client has strengthened my focus and intention. Just today, I passed by an elderly, demented resident spewing forth obscenities and swear words of all description as a nonplussed, patient, personal care worker helped her eat her meal. To the casual observer passing by it would seem that the words were being directed at the PSW but, upon closer observation it was obvious that these profanities reflected a state of being/mind in which the poor soul was lost in her own personal hell. YIKES! The emotion and anger behind this woman's words poisoned the very air in which we all moved, yet another reason to shape up now.

more to come in next post...

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