As a yoga teacher I try to take care of students in the physical sense when they practice. Are they pushing themselves too hard? Do they use alignment as a measure of safety and take conscious action to be present to what they are doing? Are they being kind to themselves and resting when they need to or taking a different pose that suits them for that day? This can be the easy part of my job but the harder part lies a lot deeper. Are they being kind to themselves in their thoughts and beliefs or are they pushing the boundaries where most thoughts that come to them are ones of violence.
A violent thought is any thought that does not reflect your inherent goodness. It is a thought that knocks you back and is not intrinsically kind to you. Examples of thoughts that are violent usually begin with the whipping words of ” I should or I shouldn’t.” What these words say is that you are not complete, you are not quite there, you haven’t done quite enough. I should or shouldn’t is an example of unkindness to yourself. These thoughts are like ropes on the end of a church bell. We keep tugging at them and making the bell of ‘I’m not quite complete, or good enough ring’ loudly. I know that when I practice yoga or even when I am in the thought pattern of beating myself up about something it is usually when I am trying to prove something to myself or when I am worrying about what others’ think of me. The problem is that I have them most of the day. I should be doing more yoga, I shouldn’t eat this, I shouldn’t have said that, I should do a more difficult option, I should, I should, I should.
What I should do it really be kinder to myself. What you should do is be kinder to yourself.
Practice for today. As Judith Hansen Lasater says, ‘ words affect my thoughts, thoughts become beliefs, beliefs become actions, actions are the way we live out our life. Where would you be if you embraced the principle of Ahimsa into your life. The practice of absence of violence in your thoughts, beliefs and actions.