The practice of Αhimsa—Non Violence—This week for us!

Transformational thoughts shared by Vivi Letsou


The practice of Abhaya—Fearlessness—is to look deeply and to work with the idea of Non-Violence, or Ahimsa, in our lives, thoughts and actions.


The Sanskrit term Ahimsa denotes “not hurting”, or “having compassion”. Non-hurting others, or non-violence extends to all sentient beings, humans, animals and other living beings in nature, and to the earth herself.  It is inspired by the truth that all sentient beings have the spark of divinity in them; thus, to hurt others is to hurt the essential nature inside us and to cause harm to the spiritual aspect in ourselves which perceives all events. Ahimsa is based on being kind to ourselves first, because we are the origin of our world. 


Note that the symbol of Ahimsa is often presented as the hand of Abhaya. This is because No Fear and No Violence go together.


Ahimsa, Non Violence, is the quality of our heart that is expressed through our thoughts and realized through our body’ s primary means of action, such as our tongue, hands and feet, sex organs, etc. On an internal level, violence is the tension associated with unloving thoughts and emotions. When we do not recognize our true nature, which, in its essential essence is beautiful and pure, we feel the stress of emotions that stem from anger, guilt, jealously, low self-esteem, attachments and obsessions. All of these emotions are reactions that spring from erroneous ideas of who we really are. The practice of looking inward and working on the Eightfold Path helps to clarify and untangle the confusion of our inner world, so that we may reach a place of peace and harmony with ourselves the external world. 


It is said, that self-realization is not a process of becoming something else, but rather, to discover the person we always were and truly are. Just like peeling an onion, by shedding off our habits and mental notions about life, others, and ourselves, we will eventually reach our tender and luminous center. When we touch this central point in the core of our heart, we will feel great joy, love and freedom. Getting to know our true self, we experience a limitless sense of happiness and well-being. 


Let me just add that Non Violence, as stated by Martin Luther King, is not synonymous with No Resistance towards powers that are oppressive, or unfair. Quite the contrary, for purity of intention makes humans beings brave enough to take the action that is needed to achieve balance and fairness. 


How do we start working with Ahimsa on a personal level?


In the beginning, this undertaking may feel overwhelming, even chaotic. How do we observe habits we do not like, or approve of in ourselves; habits that may instill in us feelings of fear and confusion? Our habits seem to have a power of their own, a momentum that goes faster than our thoughts or means of controlling them. We are simply at a loss as to how to change. The most important step is the first one, which is to tell ourselves that we are ready to start this practice, or at least, that we are ready to take a serious look at our stance towards Ahimsa in our lives.


Maybe we can get started with the following seven steps of AHIMSA work:



First, we create an inner focus; we turn our awareness on Ahimsa. It comes with the decision to look at our attitude towards Non-Violence. This decision lies alongside the question of “why?”  Why should I make this effort in my life? We each have to ask this ourselves and find our own reasons for embarking on this journey of the mind. The answer has to do with our innermost wish, desire, or Iccha for our life.  What is it that we really want from the very depths of our hearts for ourselves and for others? Once we have asked this question, it is helpful to state our wish, and to express it with a strong, heart-felt affirmation. You can write out your own affirmation, or it can be something such as…"I choose to live my life with Ahimsa—Non Violence. I can be friendly, welcoming, and compassionate towards all beings I may encounter. “

ACTION: AFFIRM your goal to cultivate AHIMSA this week!



Once we take on Ahimsa as our focus for the week, we start to pay careful attention to our thoughts and actions during the day. We try to remember to be observant. Use reminders like a favorite poem, a saying, or the photograph of something or someone who reminds us of non-violence and goodness. Thus, we draw inspiration. We may not be able personally to reach the ideal of Gandhi today, but with every slight effort we make, we approach our ideal. The same way that in hatha yoga we consider that there is an ideal blueprint for the body, there is also an ideal blueprint for our character. The closer we get to it, the better we feel. Gradually, we become our real self: loving, open, and fearless.

ACTION: USE reminders like notes or messages to yourself to keep looking your habits in terms of AHIMSA!



We exercise patience. While observing, we will witness ourselves failing in the practice of true ahimsa, failing to be compassionate in relationships and situations, again and again. Instead of being critical, hiding or finding excuses, let us cultivate a sense of humor and patience for ourselves.

ACTION:  Exercise PATIENCE & HUMOR while observing yourself. 



Our continuous attention, observation, and repetition of our mantra or affirmation, will help to remind and realign us again and again.  As we repeat this action continuously, we help to uproot our old habits and re-establish a new set of habits in our psyche. 

ACTION:  Stay with a particular sticky point or sticky situation and keep RENEWING YOUR FOCUS.



One way that tension and violence exist in the depths of our psyche is through unloving thought patterns towards ourselves or others. At this point, we need to start combing our thoughts, memories, theories about life events with immense kindness, understanding, and patience. It will take time to get unglued from our favorite scenarios, and stories about being victims and victimizers. Zen Master Mel Weisman used to urge his students in meditation: “You have to kill all your little darlings”, meaning our habitual stories, the ones to which we are most attached. We should simply recognize that these scenarios are not helping us. Their only “value” to us today is to weigh us down. It would be much easier to accept what is and what was, to forgive, and to throw away the past from our shoulders so that we may be able to move forward with a new, lighter and fearless self.



Can you recognize habit(s) of being unkind in your life?

What about a story that you have been carrying that only adds weight to your emotional life?

Can you imagine how it would be to live without that particular story?

Can you pinpoint a habit or unloving trait that you were able to overcome through your Ahimsa practice?




Getting rid of the weeds in our minds will allow us to see the subtler behavioral patterns and attitudes towards phenomena in our lives. With time, it will be easier to discriminate and get rid of even more and more imperceptible habits or theories that hold us back. Housecleaning continues until there is only the pure sense of love and joy or pure compassion (i.e., sadness at witnessing pain) reflecting off of each event in our inner and outer world. 


For me, this subtler work is manifesting with a recent realization: I find myself resending certain spiritual teachers, and especially some fellow yoga teachers for not upholding standards that they teach, or for putting on the front of a kind person for their students, while festering with greed or insecurity behind the stage. I realize that this personal view could be caused by my own sense of competitiveness, and that this kind of thinking might not serve to benefit my highest self. We can simply make more careful choices about what or whom we invite into our lives. Unloving behavior and competition are traits that reigned in the ages before us, but now, in this new age of the aquarium, it behooves us to work in a cooperative, friendly fashion with people who share the same values and goals with us, and with those who do not share our values. Thus, the purity and clarity of our mind and heart, deeply rooted in Ahimsa, seeks out suitable partners with whom we may opt to dance and co-create in life. 



Can you now start to recognize a more subtle way that you are creating inner stress /weight?

Can you apply Ahimsa to the story and see how it manifests? 



The wheel of change begins to turn at the very moment you decide to look at Ahimsa. If you are willing to put in the time and the effort to watch and cultivate this principle in your life, you will start to witness beneficial changes. Small they may seem to you in the beginning, but in time you will see yourself becoming free of former bondages. The heart will become lighter and freer. You acquire a clear new direction for your life, and you find that life starts becoming better and better for you. Not only do you have much more energy for the things that you really want to do, but the universe is rewarding you by making your chosen path much easier and more enjoyable. It is a fact: all our hard work is reflected back to us in ways that we never would have suspected could prove possible. 


ACTION:  Keep a diary of your thoughts and process of working with Ahimsa and other values. It will help you to find a necessary focus and expression through the whole flow of this process.


The practice of Ahimsa is simply the way through which our own real self is longing to blossom from the inside. When we give ourselves the opportunity to realign with its true nature, then blossoming, opening and becoming a freer and happier human being are the natural outcomes of the path we have chosen.


Ahimsa is synonymous with joy and harmony. Therefore, you will be on the right path if you continually encourage yourself to do the kind of mind work that simply feels good.  


With Abhaya –Fearless greetings from the heart, 




P.S.  Please also read this article by  Dorna Djenab

Ahimsa: The Yoga Practice of Non-Violence

The essence of ahimsa is non-violence of our own heart. The violence we inflict on each other is only the outward manifestation of the war raging inside ourselves and it is only by stopping the war within that we can stop the war without.