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Posts In: healing

Ahimsa: Non-Violence

April 13, 2018

“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.”

It’s only fitting that after coming off a month of studying and embodying the practice of Brahmacharya (right use of energy), we now look to create more mindfulness around who we are being – with respect to others, ourselves, and the world around us.

Ahimsa, defined as “causing no injury; non-harming”, is the first of the five Yamas along Patanjali’s Eight-Limbed Path, and is essentially the embodiment of non-violence in all aspects of life. Everything we do – from the words we speak, to the thoughts we think, to the actions we take – gives us the power to either cause healing or harm. Ahimsa asks us to conduct ourselves with compassion, generosity, and kindness – always. In it’s purest form, Ahimsa is the highest expression of unconditional love toward every living thing, including ourselves.

Violence isn’t always outright and obvious, as in physical altercations (though this is certainly part of it); Sometimes, violence is subtle and abstract. Self-defeating negative thoughts, holding grudges against those who’ve wronged us, spreading gossip, jealousy, and shame – all have the capacity to cause harm and suffering.

Consider how it feels – physically and emotionally – when you get riled up in the face of confrontation and begin preparing yourself for a fight. Your breathing and heart rate speeds up, your skin feels hot, your jaw tightens and your muscles tense, and your body goes into “fight or flight” mode. And whether or not any fisticuffs were exchanged, you continue feeling the effects of this stress response long after any raised hackles have subsided – sometimes for hours or even days later.

Now consider how whenever you feel jealousy or shame, or when you speak damaging and self-defeating words to yourself or to others, your body enters into the same stress response. Heart racing, hot skin, that sinking feeling in your stomach – all tell-tale signs of fight or flight – even though you aren’t actually in any physical danger. Your body still feels the violence your thoughts and words are inflicting. Over time, the cumulative effects of this stress response wreak havoc on your nervous system, causing damage and harm. Similarly, those on the other end of your damaging thoughts and words often experience the same reaction, and the cycle of violence continues.

Ahimsa gives us the opportunity to stop that cycle in it’s tracks. To choose love, kindness, generosity, and compassion at every turn.

In every moment, we have the power to choose who we are being.

When you’re running late to work, and the person in the next lane wants over in front of you, you have the power to choose whether to practice ahimsa and let them in, or to selfishly cut them off. When your coworker says something that raises your hackles, you have the choice to react by saying something unkind, or to practice ahimsa by pausing, taking a deep breath, and letting it go. Conversely, when you see someone on the train acting violently toward another passenger, you have the choice of sitting by and doing nothing, or to practice ahimsa by standing up to protect the person being victimized. When you default into “I can’t do this” or “I’m not that” thoughts in your head, you have the power to believe the lies of your story, or to practice ahimsa and flip the script into something powerful and positive.

At the end of the day, our choices and our actions do not exist in a bubble; As we engage in the practice of Ahimsa, everything – from our interactions with the people we meet, to the products we choose to purchase, and the companies we choose to support – all comes together to create either a chain reaction of loving kindness, compassion, and generosity, or one of continued pain and suffering.

Many people talk about wanting the world to be a different place, without ever taking any actual action to change it otherwise. The practice of Ahimsa – day in, day out, with each passing moment – empowers us to walk through our lives with an eye toward creating that very world we desire.

Raise your voice. Raise your vibration. Rise up and live from love.

Gandhi said, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.”

It starts with us. It starts with YOU.

What becomes possible when you live a life of love? Patanjali (and all of us here at Five Peaks!) invites you to discover it for yourself, by walking – gently and steadily – along the Eight-Limbed Path. And at the very beginning of that road? The very first directive along that path? Ahimsa.

Colure is a mostly-vegan yoga teacher, mom, wife, graphic designer, self-proclaimed nerd, and proud Co-Founder of Five Peaks Power Yoga. When she’s not at the studio teaching or practicing yoga, she can be found relaxing in her favorite local coffee shop, or adventuring around the greater DC region with her family.

We are so excited to feature a guest post by one of our very own #Tribe5 members (& current Yoga Teacher trainee!) Melissa Beaver. Read on to learn more about Melissa’s work as an energy healer.

I often do not reveal that I am a Reiki Master and practitioner to many people, as they often have no idea what Reiki is! Some people may have heard of the term, others never have, and yet others have a skewed concept of what it is and what it can do. I have heard it all, and I am here to set the story straight!

Reiki (Rei = “life force”, Ki = “energy”) is an energy therapy that addresses the body’s autonomic nervous system; It works to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, and bring the body into homeostasis.

Really? There is science behind this? ABSOLUTELY!!!

“Healers have an understanding that we have a physical body surrounded by an energy field. When we become unwell physically, emotionally, or mentally, this has an unbalancing effect on our energy field. A healer channels energy through his or her hands, and by the gentle placement of hands on the physical body (or just above it), to facilitate the re-balancing of the energy field, which in turn may ease symptoms physically, mentally, and emotionally.” (Reiki and Healthcare, Annie Buxton-King)

I found Reiki when I was looking for ways to ease my Fibromyalgia pain. I was amazed at the many physical benefits of this therapy, and was surprised at how my depression lifted. I had restored energy, was thinking clearly again, and finally felt balanced from the inside out. I had my life back, and had found a new passion along with it – to learn Reiki, and educate people on how beneficial this therapy can be!

Reiki is used in many ways: to relieve stress and restore the body back to homeostasis, to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients, and the severity of symptoms in patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Lyme Disease; It is used in hospitals before and after surgery to lessen the body’s “shock” response, and initiate (and speed up) the body’s healing processes; to help practitioners find a sense of calm before a big event… and so on. The list goes on.

What does a Reiki session look like? Well, pretty simple, actually. You just lie on a table and breathe! You can chat, sing, sleep, or snore. Anything goes! It is your restorative time. I use light touch, starting at your head, working my way to your shoulders, arms, back, and feet, down one side and then up the other. You may feel some heat, a tingling sensation, or the energy moving like a wave throughout your body. The energy knows where to go and will do what it needs to do. Your self-healing mechanism kicks in and does its thing. It is pretty amazing, really.

I tell people in order to better understand Reiki, you need to experience it! This may be out of some people’s comfort zone, but who knows? It was completely out of my comfort zone when I first tried it, but I am so happy I did. Reiki has become part of my health and wellness puzzle.

Recently at Five Peaks, we learned through the 40 Days to Personal Revolution program that there are many aspects to living a healthy life, including physical movement (yoga practice), healthy diet, healthy mind (meditation), and finding time to restore the body. Our individual wellness puzzles have pieces that are fluid and changing. Maybe one day we really need to key in on our practice or our diet, and the next week, our bodies remind us to take time to just be. Finding balance in our bodies and minds is key.

Reiki has been a fluid piece in my puzzle for years now, and I find it is an integral player in my continued healing. Find your wellness puzzle pieces, and take the time to try something new if what you have tried in the past does not seem to be working for you anymore.

If you have any questions about Reiki, please don’t hesitate to reach out! You can contact me at: mbeaver@reikiofnova.com, or give me a call at 703-932-1404.

Thanks for taking the time to read and learn about Reiki! I look forward to flowing beside you at the studio soon!

~ Melissa

Lauren is an avid reader, yoga teacher, mom, wife, entrepreneur and proud Co-Founder of Five Peaks Power Yoga. When she’s not at the studio teaching or practicing yoga, she can be found in the Loudoun County country-side enjoying the vineyards with her family. Sometimes, she even runs marathons.

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