Self-care and ahimsa: facing your habits

“First and foremost, we have to learn to be non-violent towards ourselves. If we were to play back the often unkind, unhelpful and destructive comments and judgements silently made toward ourselves in any given day, it would give us some idea of the enormity of the challenge of self-acceptance.” – Donna Farhi, Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit

We often hear the word ahimsa (non-harming) used in yoga, as a desirable way to treat ourselves and others in life, but think for a moment about ahimsa in relation to your foods and daily habits. What thoughts and what actions are you harming yourself with? It could be criticism of a part of your body, your weight, your skin, your face. It could be eating a food that your innate intelligence knows is not nutritious for your body but that your conditioned mind tells you is a ‘treat’. Overeating when you are overweight, or undereating because your conditioned mind thinks your body should look like an idealised media image rather than what is healthy for your individual height, frame and constitution. Drinking alcohol to deal with stress, or avoid facing emotions, or as a social crutch. Coffee for fatigue rather than going to bed earlier. Lack of physical activity and exercise. Over exercising.

What’s your harmful habit? Seeing it as a form of violence towards yourself can be the wake-up call that can help you change it. After all, most of us don’t actively want to be violent towards ourselves. Likewise your silent criticism of yourself and your behaviour. Would you say the things you say to yourself to anyone else? Speak to yourself with compassion instead, the way you would to a good friend. Being encouraging but without force, being realistic but with support, being truthful but with kindness and love.

May all beings be healthy and happy.