Ahimsa - The Basis of Meditation (Technique #92)
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Ahimsa - The Basis of Meditation
No matter what technique you are doing while sitting in "formal"
meditation, or are applying to the rest of your life (perhaps like
mindfulness, or breath awareness, or mantra, or whatever), the first
step in the traditional path of Raja Yoga, the Yoga of Meditation, is
recommended to be Ahimsa. Ahimsa is usually defined as non-violence.
But this goes far deeper than the usual implied characteristics of
non-violence, like not fighting physically, or taking another's life.
It deals with not causing any harm whatsoever to anyone or anything in
any way. This means no actions that cause verbal or emotional pain,
anguish, suffering, or even slight discomfort to any living thing is
what is called for. Since the failure to help ease pain is pain
causing, inaction can also be against this common to all religions
direction. So, we are pointed to not causing suffering and to
eliminate it when we see it. This puts us in a very win-win situation
karma-wise. The things that distract us from our meditation the most
are the would-of, should-of thoughts that fill our mind with guilt and
anger. Actually living our life in an Ahimsa way never feeds the fire
of inner gut-feeling pain that knowing we have done wrong causes and
eliminates the mental poison called "Regret" that drowns us in a tidal
wave of suffering.
The Ahimsa Meditation Technique
A way to live your life seems more than just a technique, but
meditation can be considered a time of attention and awareness, and
that is certainly advantageous at all times, not just for 20 minutes
in the morning and 20 minutes at night. Ahimsa is based on a few basic
1) We have an inner Witness that has been present since birth and is
here now, as you are reading these words. The Witness is the awareness
that can see if you have any tension in your body, what your emotions
are feeling, and what your mind is thinking.
2) There are only 3 types of actions (called Gunas in Sanskrit): Tamas
(actions that are ignorant, habitual, dark, characterized by inertia,
and generally negative), Rajas (also ignorant and negative, but
usually are selfishness-desire based, and active actions), and Sattva
(pure, righteous, light, holy selfless actions).
3) By Witnessing what is inappropriate (Tamas and Rajas actions), we
can eliminate those actions that cause suffering and flow infinitely
better with life. It works this way...
Before every action, there are words. Before words, there are
thoughts. Before thoughts, the Witness IS. At one with the Witness,
the meditator is aware of the actions, words, and thoughts. If they
are of an unrighteous or other negative label nature, both of passive
and active characteristic (Tamas/Rajas), which is known by a "gut
feeling", intuitively, the meditator changes them spontaneously,
effortlessly, into righteous events (Sattva). This is Self-control.
How to do this? By witnessing your life as it takes place. Your breath
is always present while there is life. By placing your attention on
your breath, you are here, now, present, and can Witness your life as
it takes place. Several times during the day, remind your self to
Witness your breath. Do this in as many ways as you can. When you
first get up, give yourself a mental direction to stop every hour on
the hour and refocus on your breath, and on your silent inner Witness.
If you see yourself doing anything that is contrary to Ahimsa,
redirect your actions to Sattvic ones. So, if you see yourself
mentally cursing out your boss, for instance, change that into a
prayer for the well being of all who live. This is just an example.
You can also remind yourself by leaving post-it notes to yourself
around your house or job site that just say "Witness" or "Breathe" on
them. While you're at work, call yourself on your home phone and leave
a message on your answering machine that will serve as a reminder when
you get home from work and check your messages. Be creative, devise a
game plan. Find ways that you can remind yourself more and more often
to be aware of your breathe, Witnessing, and the principle of Ahimsa.
Eventually, you will Witness your life as it takes place, and the
replacing of negative actions with righteous ones will become an
automatic part of your life, and you will never again have to even
ponder what Ahimsa is about. You will be living it. Then, a state of
transcendence of all Gunas (Tamasic, Rajasic, and Sattvic actions)
occurs. The meditator then abides in life without reference or
reaction to the illusion of singular identification, and the unity
with the ever present, infinite underlying essence of all creation,
and all activity is realized. This event of all events can only be
known experientially, not emotionally, physically, or intellectually.
It is a gift of Grace only, and not as a result of meditation, or by
going through your pain, or by bliss-full visions, and so on.
Meditation clears the pathway of all that obstructs the vision of the
So... breathe, Witness, and when you witness Tamas or Rajas in your
actions, or the actions going on around you, change them into Sattva
by acting or refraining from action whatever is appropriate. But, be
sure to apply the kindness that is one and the same in Ahimsa to
yourself, as well as to others. Be gentle when you see something
negative in your actions, words, or thoughts. Just say "Oh well" to
yourself and go on with the process of changing negativity to loving
positivity. And this will be true Ahimsa, and that will be when you
start living happily ever after.