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Ahimsa (Non-Harm): The Power of Thoughts

Sometimes in yoga, we talk about ahimsa, meaning "non-harm." Non-harm can have so many different connotations in the yoga world. Some take it as non harm to animals and eat vegan. Some take it as non harm to other creatures people. Some take it as non harm to themselves. These are all very on point, though you don't have to be a vegan to practice non harm of animals and creatures. 

Today, the discussion in on non harm of the self. Do an exercise with us, will you? Take a moment, wherever you are, and close your eyes. Find your seat. Feel your sit bones rooted down into the earth and get a sense of rising, or reaching up, through the crown of your head. Now, rest your attention on your breath and just notice your thoughts. Think of them like cars passing by in traffic. You don't have to get caught up on any particular one, you just begin to be aware and notice your thought process and what comes up. Stay with this about 15 breaths or so. 

What did you notice about your thoughts? If you're like the majority of the human population, probably 95% of them were negative. Scary, isn't it, how often we think negative things, whether about other people or ourselves. So what do we do?

I (Amy) made a goal for myself this year to allow less negativity into my life. As soon as I declared it, it was as though the universe set out to test me on how dedicated I was to that promise. The negative thoughts stormed right in and I got overwhelmed. Slowly, over time, I've placed my awareness on the negative thoughts, and when I'm aware I'm having one, I pause.

"Is that really legit, what I just told myself? Am I really stupid? Not good enough? Not pretty enough? Not strong enough?" Most of the time, my answer is no. I am none of those things.

Our thoughts have the power to change us, for the positive or the negative. And guess what? We have a say in the matter! We get to choose which thoughts have power over us. It's as simple (or complicated) as that. 

So, where do you begin with all this? Start with that simple meditation exercise above, of just simply placing your awareness on your thoughts. The more you do this, the more you'll feel this awareness not just with your eyes closed, but with your eyes open, all day long! The next step is, when you feel the awareness of the negative thought, to ask yourself: 

"Is what I just told myself really true?"

See what your answer is, and then tell yourself something positive instead. 

As life gets full of activity, it's easy for me to jump into it full force, let in all those negative thoughts and then realize I wasn't really present for any of it. Give yourself the gift of taking a pause to notice your thoughts, to feel your breath, and to practice self love, especially with our thoughts :)



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