Practicing Ahimsa in Art & Life

Apr 22

Ahimsa is one of the yamas of the Yoga Sutra and it is most recognizably translated to mean “non-violence”.  If you practice yoga you will often hear your teacher reminding you throughout the practice to work through your positions with ahimsa.  Not that anyone would become violent per say in a yoga class, but we all know that if our thoughts could be heard aloud it would be mind blowing how horrendous and vitriolic we can be to ourselves and to others.  Whether it is psychological violence or physical violence, injury occurs, which is why ahimsa is a foundation to not only yoga but to life.

So here’s my story about this…  

In addition to some new branches of my art business I’m super excited about and setting into motion, I’m also starting what will end up being a year long intensive yoga training.  I’m excited and scared by it all, but mostly excited.  I’ve been running on adrenaline, caffeine, and yoga, and it’s been awesome! Until the last two days when my body decided it was done and needed a rest …….. enter ahimsa.

I guess somewhere along the way I stopped remembering to treat myself with love and kindness.  I forgot to embrace the journey I was starting, and just plain started to regress into nasty self hate talk.  It started with some art I was inspired to create but just couldn’t get to look right while sketching.  The hate talk came on with a vengeance :  “You suck! Can’t you sketch better then that?  Seriously you’ve been working on the computer too long – you can’t even sketch anymore!  You should just quit!”.  This then moved on to a computer glitch (I’ve had many lately) and I lost some work that had taken 3 hours to do.  More hate talk :  “You should know by now to save your file!  How lame are you?  I can’t believe you didn’t save the file and now you have to start all over again! You’re so stupid!”.   Next up was yoga class where I watched my limber and amazing teacher blissfully glide into full lotus position (Padmasana).  I don’t know what I was thinking because I’ve never been able to do this pose as of yet, but in my ego-mind I guess because I knew I had been working so hard on my training I felt that this particular pose would suddenly be available to me.  Well, as you might guess it wasn’t, and I felt like a fool.  Here’s how that hate talk went :  “You look like such an idiot trying to force your foot like that!  Who do you think you are? Ouch – you are going to tear something! I can’t believe you ever thought you could do this!  You should just quit now and save yourself a whole lot of pain!”.  

It was at that moment, when all I wanted to do was crawl into a fetal position and cry, that I finally remembered ahimsa.  Ahimsa to be patient with my art, knowing that practice and patience will bring forth the art I’m envisioning in my minds eye.  Ahimsa to know that technology is not full proof and that I am human and sometimes forget to take steps (like saving my file).  There also might be a greater reason for the need to start over again.  Finally Ahimsa to know that my yoga journey is just that … a journey / a life practice … and that even though today my body may not be able to enter into all the poses I wish to enter I will get there eventually with practice, and I WILL SIT FULL LOTUS one day!  

Today I am enjoying some play time, some rest time, and some unwind time ….  I’m helping a friend out by painting on wine glasses and vases that she will be giving to her students at her upcoming yoga retreats, and as I paint they are making me smile because on the vase is a lotus flower and on the wine glass is the sanskrit symbol for OM.  You’ve got to love how the Universe comes full circle in times of growth!

Wishing you Peace & Love