Health & Wellness,  Learning

The Year of Ahisma

Driving home from Christmas in New Orleans in 2019, Skye and I decided that our new years resolution would be a year of ahisma, a concept from one of the yamas of the 8 limbs of yoga translated as non-violence. Our idea was to come up with a new way we could be non violent each week and implement it, making ahisma a true practice and not just a thing to think about occasionally when cued by a yoga teacher.

Our idea started well as I removed plastic shopping bags in favor of reusable, we worked on non-combative household communications, and alternate forms of stress relief. We discussed where our food came from, how to conserve energy, and why we should give our friends/classmates the assumption they meant well.

And then COVID hit, with all it’s isolating, supply chain, germ-a-phobic implications. 2020 was not the year to try and cut plastic shopping bags when the check out staff didn’t want to touch my reusable bags (I had to bag my own) and endless disposable masks became a part of reality. The practice of ahisma became more personally focused. How can we keep our relationships and connections when we’re no longer in school or seeing people? How can we keep our mental health, be non-violent to ourselves, when there is a pervading level of uncertainty causing constant, low-level stress in even those in the best situations? Was growing a garden, homemaking bread, or throwing zoom parties going to help? Homemaking wine certainly seemed to…

River grew up a bit and began crawling into my lap to sit as I meditated. Skye got a tablet for school and with that came the ability to add kids meditation apps. Our in-house Alexia offered to greet us each morning with a dose of mindfulness. We hiked through the woods, swam in the lake, made friends by the ocean, and slept under the stars. We found ways to take care of ourselves, to explore, to learn, to work, and maybe even to thrive through COVID.

But we lost sight of the practice of ahisma until my yoga group decided to circle back, reminding me of another two dozen ways to implement the practice. And reminding me that it does help to have a yoga teacher to remind you it’s all a practice and center you. So, two years later, we still practice ahisma in being gentle with our family, with protecting the time and space we need to focus, in regular meditation, and in making positive assumptions of others. It manifests in the food we eat, how we handle conflicts at work, at home, and at school, in how we care for ourselves and others and the world around us. And it is very much a practice we need to come back to, year after year, to see if, in this phase of life, we’re doing our best to be non-violent to ourselves and others.

Of course, that also means setting more realistic New Years Resolutions. This year, we’re going to be mermaids…