Applying the Principles of Ahimsa and Svadhyaya: Introduction

This experiment is an exercise of Yoga components Yama and Niyama. I will specifically examine the behavior pattern Ahimsa toward others and myself and Svadhyaya for my self-explorations of my reactions. I will use circumstances in my volunteer work as a Park Patroller with Jefferson County Open Space parks to explore and practice these patterns. My duties include telling visitors to the parks about county law requiring their dogs to be on a leash while they visit the park. It is for the pets’ safety and for the safety of other visitors in the parks. This is a point of contention for me because of past experience with visitors ignoring the information I give them. This has both bruised my ego and also bruised my belief in rules and order in society. I will highlight experiences from 2 patrols I’ve done and how the practices of Ahimsa and Svadhyaya influenced my behavior.

The process I will be examining reminded me of a Zen fable that I can summarize: A man was training a rooster owned by his prince for cock fighting. After ten days, the prince asked if it was ready, “No sir, he is still vain and flushed with rage.” was the reply. Another ten days, “Not yet sir. He is on the alert whenever he hears another cock crowing.” Still another ten days, “Not quite yet sir. His sense of fighting is still smoldering within him.” Finally after another ten days, “He is almost ready. Even when he hears another crowing, he shows no excitement. He now resembles one made of wood. His qualities are integrated. No cocks are his match—they will at once run away from him.” Through the practice and awareness of Ahimsa and Svadhyaya I will measure my actions and reactions to encounters with dog-off-leash contacts and if they create reactive behavior in others and me.