The moment we started to talk about the yama and niyama experiments I was filled with anxiety. Breaking in to groups felt like a life sentence. Which part of myself am I going to delve into and work with? I knew I was being asked to take a hard look at myself, and that is never easy. I settled with ahimsa for my yama.

I was introduced to the concept of ahimsa several years ago. It is the restraint of non-violence, or non-harming. This seems fairly simple at the surface. Restrain from violence, don’t hit or kick? Easy! When adding the fact that yamas are to be practiced at the physical, verbal, and mental levels the task of Ahimsa becomes much more challenging. Which thoughts and words are harmful to yourself or others or harder yet the collective prana of the universe?

When we broke into groups I had a very clear sense of where I most needed to work on ahimsa in my life. As I listened to my group mates describe their habits of yelling and getting angry at others I felt that I truly could not relate. I said with conviction that my most violent acts are my thoughts towards myself. I went as far as to say that I really did not have any harmful thoughts or verbalizations towards the outside world, that I took it all in for myself. One of my group mates first response to that was “hurting yourself does hurt those around you.” This got me thinking. The first few days of the experiment I did not have much of a plan, I just started observing my thoughts closely. We all know this is a huge chore in and of itself. I was astonished by what I found. I do have harmful thoughts and verbalizations towards others!