Last evening I harvested
carrots from our garden to eat with supper. With the carrots, although scrubbed, I ingested soil and microbes from this land where I now live. So many others walked, rested, planted and ate here, over millennia. They too were one with this particular lump of soil. I name these people at the footer of my email. Today especially, that does not feel like enough.
Many years ago, I visited the Christopher Columbus museum in the Dominican Republic. I was dismayed. This famous explorer who “discovered” this “new world” acted brutally as he conquered people and their lands, exploiting their resources.
How do I reconcile within myself, my feeling that I am one with earth like all those before me, and my third generation immigrant European heritage who was inspired by the chain of events unfolding from the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria?
As a yogi, I can turn to the Yamas and Niyamas: do’s and don’ts. Let’s look at the first one today.
Ahimsa. Non-harming, non-violence. This states the obvious: do no harm. It echoes the golden rule, and the commandments of other traditions.
As yogis, we can unpack this into further subtlety. Indigenous Peoples teach respectful, harmonious relationships with the natural environment. Resources are renewable.
Ahimsa is an invitation into compassion for all beings, including ourselves. How do we renew our inner resources? We might start by meditating on our strengths. What can I bring forth, now, in support of non-harming? There are endless possibilities. Which are my threads to pick up and weave into a greater good?
How do I consume resources? Is there room in my habits to make a small change, not from guilt or outside judgement, but from the heart? How are my words and actions? I am quick to make a judgement, or to criticize myself, or others? How can I soften my reactivity?
Through yoga and meditation we can build space within ourselves to hear the kind voice of Ahimsa. It echoes across human experience, woven throughout time. Deeply listening, there is a new awareness. Cultivating peacefulness and righteous action within our own soul-garden, we create a vibe. Others can catch it. Our personal practice makes a difference in ourselves, and in the world.