I am currently enrolled in a 300-hour yoga teacher training and at our March training weekend we were given a homework assignment to practice Ahimsa through Abhyasa and Vairagya.
Ahimsa – non violence, kindness, peace, love
Abhyasa – persistent effort to realize a goal
Vairagya – non-attachment and letting go
I interpret these three concepts as:
If we are to truly be non-violent then we are loving wholeheartedly. We are making an effort (Abhyasa) to realize that all beings are different and we are letting go (Vairagya) of our assumptions about how things are or how things ought to be.
As a teacher, Ahimsa is reminding my students to not get caught up in the physical asana, but to put equal effort into mind, body, and breath. As a student, Ahimsa is not letting my ego get the best of me and if my body is telling me Child’s Pose, then I am breaking out Child’s Pose. But, as a human being, Ahimsa is working on showing affection, which for me, is truly an effortful task.
I have a hard time showing physical affection towards others. As a soon-to-be social worker, it is instinctual for me to analyze situations and so, of course, I have been analyzing my lack of physical affection towards others. I find myself “blaming” two different situations:
1. During high school, I went through a physically, mentally, and emotionally debilitating period. I was afraid of the very thing that keeps us alive… FOOD. I struggled with disordered eating. I restricted myself from all of my favorite foods and so much more. I can recall actually using a tape measure to measure out a slice of cake on my birthday. Forget about dessert, chips, and candy, I was worried about how much sugar was in a berry. What I did not realize, and what I can proudly say I realize now, is food is more than just an energy source, it is a means of socializing. Being afraid of food meant not being around other human beings, which meant very little socializing. For almost 2.5 years I did not socialize with others the way a “typical” high school girl might. I did not go to either of my high school proms. I was not the “girl” at parties making the rounds to different guys. And, I was not texting friends 24/7. What was I doing? I was sitting on the couch; contemplating how much dressing I could have on my very small salad (and by salad, I mean lettuce). That was my life. I am a firm believer in the cliché saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” With the help of some very special people (whom I am forever grateful for!), I was able to live again. I am a living, breathing, walking, talking example of someone who has overcome disordered eating. Even thought it will always be a part of me, it does not define me!
Back to Ahimsa. Through those very difficult years, I missed out on social outings and spending fun and carefree time with friends, whether it be at the mall eating Chinese food samples while gossiping over crushes, planning an after-prom party, or just watching a movie and hanging out on a Friday night. It has been and still is hard for me to just forget all of this and move on. And, as I analyze why I have such a difficult time showing physical affection, I cannot help but “blame” this period of time. I missed out on this “practical” experience of socializing and being around others, males and females.
I struggle with showing physical affection and being comfortable with physical affection (Abhyasa), while also letting go (Vairagya) of what happened in the past and not letting that take up any more of my time.
2. The other situation that I find myself “blaming” has to do with not being ready for a physical relationship. About three years ago I believe that I was forced into something that I was not ready for. Because of this experience, I have learned to never let another human being make me feel like I have to be ready for something just because they are. I have learned that if I do not want to do something, whatever that “something” may be in a romantic relationship, I have the right to say no and my no should be respected.
So, again, I struggle here with showing physical affection and being comfortable with physical affection (Abhyasa), while also letting go (Vairagya) of what happened in the past and not basing all future romantic and physical relationships off of just that one.
I have a fear of rejection.
I have a fear of being hurt.
This is my Ahimsa.
This is my Abhyasa and Vairagya.
This is my way being effortful in my fight for affection, while trying to forget, or at the very least, not let the past determine my future.