Tread gently on the Earth
The first in yoga’s ten ethical and moral guidelines, yamas and niyamas, is Ahimsa, or non-harming. There are different ways of interpreting this yogic concept; to me this means that we shouldn’t, not just as yogis and spiritual seekers, but as human beings, participate in any action which causes harm; to ourselves, other people, all sentient beings and our mother, planet Earth.
On the eight limbed path to absolute freedom, the yamas and niyamas are two first steps, a foundation of spiritual seekers practice. My understanding is that Patanjali wanted to say: if you’re not following these basic moral and ethical rules or rather ways of living, no asana, pranayama, concentration or meditation will help you find the light and freedom that is Samadhi.
In our fast and convenience based lives, we often make choices not based on a question ‘will my choice cause harm and lower the vibration’, but is it fast, convenient, easy, cheap or designer. This is due to different images we are constantly sold and this consumeristic, capitalistic lives we live. Lives that are not aligned with our true nature, with our essence. No wonder people in the modern world are unhappy. We seek happiness in all the wrong places. Our true selves, our essence is content and happy when in nature, when connecting to other beings, when we’re kind and helpful to others. When we practice ahimsa.
So, what can we do? We can start with small things that will gradually create the change. We should be more mindful of what we eat, what we choose to spend our money on, how we talk and act. We should all learn how to tread gently on the Earth. On the great scale of things, we are just visitors.
Consider switching to vegetarian or vegan diet
I have been a vegetarian most of my life, all of my adult life. My grandparents lived on a farm so, when I was a child, I would see the suffering of animals from first row seats. And those animals were treated nicely. Meat industry today is the most harmful industry of all which causes suffering of innocent beings, deforestation and pollution. I believe one day, when future generations will be more awaken and this practice of slaughtering animals for pleasure will be eradicated, the meat industry will be the lowest point of our, not so great legacy. Today there is vegetarian and vegan everything; not just the food but cosmetics, clothes and shoes. If you have a choice, and we all so, consider switching to a suffering free diet. It takes some adjustment, but the benefits are so much greater than the downsides. Plant based diet it’s better for you health wise as well. So, it’s a win-win situation.
Use suffering-free cosmetics
Testing medicine which has the potential of saving many lives on animals is one thing, but testing mascaras yet another. Every day animals are being tortured just so we can have yet another choice. More volume, more length, more, more, more… Cosmetic brands have to come up with new products to stay on the market, and every new product has to be tested. Just so we can have more, bigger, shinier everything. Longer eye lashes won’t bring you happiness. The fact that no being suffered for your mascara - might. Not to mention that vegan products are better for you and contain less or no harmful chemicals that can cause so much damage.
Your skin is your largest organ and the golden rule is – don’t put anything on your skin you couldn’t eat. This, of course goes for body lotions etc. Use plant based oils instead (coconut, cacao butter etc.) or if you like your body lotions use those marked vegan. My favorite cosmetic brands here in Europe are Sante, Lavera, Dr. Hauschka and Loogona. Fun fact: Dr. Hauschka’s cosmetics are tested on human volunteers.
Think about materials your clothes and shoes are made of
Leather jackets, shoes, bags are made of a skin of an animal. Today there is so much choice of different eco-friendly materials which are of good quality, look good, are degradable and no one was harmed so we can have yet another leather bag. I have to be honest and say I have many of these items in my wardrobe and I do still wear them. What’s done is done. But, I have bought my last leather item a few years ago and choose not to participate in leather industry any more.
Stop using plastic (as much as possible)
This is a hard one, but we can do as much as we can. I believe it is up to governments to ban plastic but also up to us to stop using it as much as possible. Plastic is convenient and cheap, that’s all. We don’t think about the pollution, the oceans, animals etc. and the fact that the plastic bottle of water we had just bought in the supermarket will stick around for an unbelievably long time and do some damage during that time. Packaged food is mostly processed anyways and full of harmful chemicals –its’s bad for you as much as for the environment.
I tried going completely plastic free for a month a few years ago and couldn’t get rid of it completely, but that month has been such an eye opener for me and I have learned a lot. Mostly, I have learned that with just a bit of planning and thinking, we do have a choice. So today I try to choose wisely.
Everything is energy, a vibration. Our choices, our actions, our words and our thoughts. I believe it our duty to raise the vibration so we can make a switch to a better, more compassionate and healthy lives for all – ourselves, other human beings, other beings and our planet. Be aware of your actions so they don’t cause harm. Be aware of your words so they don’t cause harm. Be aware of your thoughts so they don’t cause harm.
When the day comes I have to leave this cycle of life, I want to look back and know in my heart that I have left but a footprint. For me, this is ahimsa.