Living for a few weeks with ahimsa in mind; talking with family, friends and co-workers about it; and discussing the larger concepts with the other yoga students taking on this yama, several varied findings became evident:
- The process of being aware/witnessing my anger was a big part of the practice itself. When a triggering event would happen (someone’s inconsiderate action frustrating me), my first reaction during the experiment would be to say to myself, “non-harming.” And that was enough to momentarily distance myself from the situation and give myself time to think rationally. I don’t mean to say that I never ultimately got angry, but I was able to see how my mind was focusing on the situation, with detrimental consequences.
- In talking with family and friends about the experiment, I came to realize that perhaps I expect too much out of people and need to be more gentle with them. I need approach a frustrating situation giving the perpetrator the benefit of the doubt—believing that they are doing the best they can. No one is perfect: we all have human failings and we all deserve respect (we’re all family/connected/related). My parents taught me growing up that the most important thing with whatever task was in front of me was not to be the best at it, but rather, to do the best I could/give it my all. I need to accept that others are doing the best they can.
- In caucusing with my fellow ahimsa yoga students, I realized that “judging” my own reactions to thoughtless people was also harming. As long as anger is kept in check, it does serve a purpose at times, and like all other passions, is very human! Beating yourself up about a reaction, or replaying an event over and over in your head serves no positive purpose going forward. It is important to learn from a negative situation/reaction, but not to have it define you.