During this months teacher’s training, we held a forgiveness circle–a beautiful process where you ask yourself for forgiveness. Often times, we let our past impede our healing process, so in this circle we look at ourselves as children, taking ownership for how we have blocked progress in ourselves.
This time we held it on the same night that we discussed ahimsa or non-violence, one of the beautiful tenants of the eight limbs of yoga, from the Yoga Sutras. The group was very vocal about how we wanted to avoid harming animals, and that were was too much cruelty toward people in other countries. There was a lot of agreement on these topics and the feeling that, as a group, we were generally non-violent people. The next morning after the circle and the sutra teachings, a woman spoke up and said “isn’t it interesting how easily we can stand up against violence toward others, yet last night we saw how violent we have been to ourselves without questions.” Her comment caused a long and uncomfortable, yet reverent, pause. The kind of pause that denotes when a real truth has been spoken.
After a bit more discussion, we concluded that if we haven’t been kind to ourselves, perhaps we could consider ourselves violent. In the end, maybe the deepest lesson of ahimsa is “self-love,” and since we are as much a part of nature as a forest, why is it any more acceptable to overwork, pollute, starve, cut, criticizes, self-deprecate ourselves than it is to burn down a forest of trees? In this sweet month of the celebration of love, let it start at home in our own hearts.