Statue of Patanjali, the codifier of Yoga

It’s been such a long time since I’ve devoted time and attention to my blog, and the causes are varied.  We forget that even events that we consider joyous can throw us out of balance and I’ve re-learned that over the the last two to three months; two to three months which have been overwhelming with events wonderful, challenging and even sad.  These events and circumstances simply kept reinforcing the theme with which I always struggle when it comes to applying it to myself — Ahimsa (non-harming/non-violence, the first in the Yamas & Niyamas.) And the last few months have had me revisiting and relearning Ahimsa on a daily basis.

In November, my partner and I moved in together — a joyous, love-filled event, indeed!  We no longer needed to struggle with an hour between our homes, but could support and love each other in the same space — daily!  But I also must acknowledge that this happy event threw me into a space of fear.  I hadn’t lived with a romantic partner since my disastrous marriage years ago. And although my loving, caring partner and I have better communication than I’ve ever experienced in a relationship, all my old fears around abandonment and rejection arose. But, he supported me through the transition, reminding me to breathe, stay present, and most importantly, have compassion and patience for myself within this new, very large and exciting step in our lives.

So, there I was, holding space and attempting to remember Ahimsa when right after Thanksgiving, I got sick with something that lasted straight through til New Years (I literally displaced ribs from the fierceness of my coughing!) And let me tell you, if you’ve never experienced it, feeling betrayed by one’s own body is a lousy sensation.  And it just added to the sense of imbalance I was already feeling — I was breathing and trying to find my emotional and mental center, and my physical center just flew off its axis. Do Asana practice? I could barely manage to drag myself to work (I could only take a couple sick days), and then I’d collapse at the end of each day.  I struggled to find patience with my situation, and must admit that I didn’t do so well. I was over-tired with the resulting poor sleep that accompanies nightly hours of fierce coughing, and without the constant loving support of my partner and some good friends reminding me to go gently, it’s likely recovery would have been much longer as I’m sure I would have fallen into my old habit of “pushing through”.

My kitty Shimoda

My beloved kitty companion, Shimoda

There was simply no “pushing through” when my kitty companion of almost sixteen years passed on January 2nd.  I was fortunate to be able to hold him in his last hours, to pour love into his transition, and am eternally grateful for my partner and friends who held me while I held Shimoda through his passing that day.  I was honestly surprised at how much emotional pain there was letting him go. He was my first animal companion and I’m still caught by tears and memories, and imagine that’ll continue for some time.  And Shimoda keeps on giving — every memory reminds me that unconditional love, acceptance, and friendship are available to us if we just allow our hearts to be open and vulnerable.

So, for the first time in my life, I’m consciously learning how to go gently with myself.  I’m diving into the the concept of Ahimsa from a very new perspective — and with a whole lot of support. I’m finally willing to let go of the “should have’s” and the “must do’s”. I’m learning to let go of some strongly-held, very old and no longer serving expectations. I’m learning to breathe and just be in whatever the moment presents. I’m learning that releasing the hold ego has upon my psyche might be the only way to unfold into the life I truly want to live. And I’m acknowledging that it’s practice … it’ll never be perfect.  This time, for the first time, as I read the Sutras, it’s not primarily academic — Patanjali’s guidelines must be breathed in and lived.  Ahimsa is just the beginning. And I’m now willing and eager to be at the beginning for a while.

How do you practice Ahimsa? Where in your life do you struggle with Ahimsa?

One Response to “In the Dark Moments, Ahimsa Brings Light”

  • Jamie says:

    Beautiful, Deb. Why is it that Ahimsa is sosososososo difficult to apply to ourselves? Your photo of Shimoda leads me to believe that he had the secret to Ahimsa internalized! My own cats only show their lack of Ahimsa when it comes to my furniture!

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