We are taught in Yoga to observe Ahimsa or nonviolence. Great leaders of humanity from all times have also taught these things. Gandhi and Nonviolence are synonymous. So just what is it that they are talking about?
When practicing Ahimsa we first need to remember that this is a universal principle. Meaning that we must consider ourselves in our nonviolent behavior. We also must realize that absolutely perfect Ahimsa is not possible. Even a vegetarian must eat living food of some kind or may inadvertently cause another life form to expire. We can also be extremely hard on ourselves and others, expecting everything to change for the better in a moment. This will put us into a conflict at sometime or another. With our self, with someone we are close to, or even a stranger.
Gandhi said "We must be the change we want to see in the world". However he also didn't say that this had to happen overnight.
Every time I have had an insight surrounding my actions on the Yoga mat or in life there is a period right after where reflection is necessary. Take for example our training as teachers. When something was given to us, whether it was an adjustment or a change in thought pattern, it threw everything we had been investing in out the window. When I had Triangle Posture down, holding my toe and extending fully, I felt accomplished. When I was told that I was doing it wrong and that I was hurting my hip I was taken back. Disillusioned, not wanting to change something that I considered myself good at. At first I wanted to stop practicing it altogether. After all it would be embarrassing if I couldn't demonstrate the full postures to students when I am the teacher and a supposedly advanced practitioner. I wouldn't look perfect.
This internal conflict affects my outer world too. If I have these expectations of myself, what do others feel in my presence. The words that aren't spoken. Is it compassion for yourself?
Ultimately, we all can choose two ways to process this kind of input. I have learned to take the harder road that creates the growth rather than the easier road to decay. Sometimes I do complain and delay that choice though. I am, however, getting more graceful at it.
Finding the way to face myself and the world with more and more Ahimsa.