Ahimsa, “non-harming,” seems simple on the surface. Ahimsa is the first Yama – how you act/react with your outer world, and the usual interpretation is “don’t physically hurt others.” Yes, you shouldn’t physically harm others, but there’s so much more to Ahimsa. Let’s break it down!
There are groups of people you can harm:
Everyone (and everything) else
This usually comes in 2 forms: what you say, and what you do. Traditional organized religions typically say “do not physically hurt other people.” And there is usually an element of “be nice,” meaning be nice with your words. These are all part of ahimsa, but there are more subtle levels of how you can use ahimsa with others.
When you need to have a difficult conversation do you think about how your words will make them feel? Sometimes we do, and sometimes we don’t, and sometimes we just don’t care. Satya (truthfulness) needs to be greeted with ahimsa. You might need to tell your best friend “that dress makes you look fat!” But you would never say that, right!? You would probably say something more like “I think we can find a better dress for you.” or “I don’t think that’s the one.” These are examples of using Ahimsa (non-harming) with Satya (truthfulness). So how could you embrace Ahimsa when someone asks you “So when are you having kids?”
Not physically harming others is pretty well ingrained into modern society. You wouldn’t physically abuse someone but that leads us to how you treat yourself…
As much as we all want to think that we wouldn’t physically hurt ourselves, sometimes we do. Some people physically cut themselves, others deprive themselves of nutrients. What are you putting into, on you, and around your body? There’s a wide spectrum of what harming looks like, but it’s not just in the physical realm. What is the narrative going on in your mind? Does it nurture you and your well-being? What do you say “yes” to that you shouldn’t, and what do you say “no” to that you should say “yes”? Do you take time to relax, or do you spend too much time on the couch? Are you fiscally responsible, but do you also allow yourself to spend money on joy?
The stress of infertility can make everything harder including being kind to yourself and those around you. Do you blame yourself or your partner for your infertility struggle? How has your future financial planning shifted because of infertility treatments? How can you bring a sense of kindness into the situation? Could you treat yourself with some rest and relaxation? Could you be a little more loving to your spouse? Can you be a little more loving to yourself?
Harm runs the gamut, taking a few moments to take stock of your physical, mental, emotional, financial, marital, social, and spiritual lives and notice the places where you could be a little kinder to yourself today.