The literal translation of Ahimsa is Nonviolence. Ahimsa is the first of the yamas, or cardinal truths. The opposite is Himsa, violence. On the surface this is an easy concept to understand. The first thing that comes to mind is violence against other human beings, animals and other life forms. This is true. But when you look closely, and ask yourself – what else constitutes violence against others? What constitutes violence against ourselves? – the true meaning of Ahimsa is revealed.
Let us consider how do we inflict harm and commit violence on ourselves. Anytime you are critical about yourself you are committing violence. This occurs when we believe that we have not put in 100% effort in accomplishing a task, failed in achieving what we set out for, or failed to complete it in a manner we envisioned. We are also committing violence when we berate ourselves because failed to live up to our values. Self doubt, uncertainty, comparisons, judging, defensiveness and depression all constitute violation of Ahimsa.
How about gossip? This is also an act of Himsa. When you gossip about someone else, you are showing disrespect, lack of consideration, and total lack of compassion. Manipulation, coercion, blame game, sarcasm, and bad humor are all acts of violence.
Staying at work beyond normal working hours, failure to take rest or stretch breaks from your desk, ignoring nourishment at work, and working until exhaustion constitute violence. Failure to report unsafe conditions, compromise of values, flouting of organizational ethics and staying quite when your feedback could prevent loss are all examples of Himsa.
How can you incorporate Ahimsa in your everyday life?
About Kammitment: Led by scientist and life-coach Kamalesh (Kam) Rao, Kammitment helps one realize and make a commitment towards self-actualization, through tailored leadership coaching workshops and programs for students and professionals in all stages of their lives, by drawing upon the time-tested principles of Yoga and Mindfulness. Kam has spent 20 years as a scientist and a manufacturing professional in the pharmaceuticals industry, and continues to consult with the industry. In his free time he leads executive coaching programs for Fortune 100 clients. A certified Yoga instructor, Kam lives in Oakland, CA and is an active volunteer in the Bay Area community when he is not perfecting the next Pretzel pose in Yoga and tapping into its myriad benefits. For further information, please email [email protected]