|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 199 ]
When practicing ahimsa, begin by examining your behaviour. First, create an initial desire not to cause pain to any creature.
Begin each day with a sound resolution to cause no pain. Gradually expand this resolution by asking yourself whether any action that you are about to take, be it a thought, words or deed, is likely to hurt anyone or to cause them pain in any way.
At the end of the day ask yourself, "Have I done anything to hurt anyone today?" and follow this up by the more positive thought: "Have I been loving and helpful to those that I encountered today?"
This seems like a simple process, but it is important to be honest and genuine in exploring the answers to these fundamental questions each day. Proceed slowly with attention to all aspects of your life and daily interactions -- from family interactions, to exchanges with shop keepers, to email responses, business calls, clients and co-workers and casual encounters on the street or bus.
Continue on, day by day, until an attitude of kindness and love becomes such a habit that you no longer need to think about it. You will not gossip unkindly about others, nor will you misjudge or preconceive others motives.
You will have genuine, caring interactions in each and every possible moment. This practice should ultimately be extended to all creatures, big and small.
This may seem too obvious to some to hardly be worth the time. But it is precisely within these introspective efforts that the real yoga wisdom found. It is in the meticulous attention to our thoughts and our motivations that profound changes in our way of thinking occur -- just as The Way of the Samurai states:
"The big things are least important and the little things the most important."
When you begin to experiment with this practice, you will no doubt find it challenging and invariably discover a lot about your own habitual ways of thinking and acting toward others.
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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