Feelings want to be felt in order to dissolve. Especially if they are unpleasant, this makes a lot of sense, as brain research tells us that our brains remain on high alert when we suppress unpleasant feelings. Additional energy is consumed in order to appear outwardly composed. In tandem with this, the stress shifts into the body and becomes a burden as well. If we however find a positive evaluation for the unpleasant situation, the neuronal alarm mode is terminated after only a few seconds. Who wouldn’t agree to avoid suppressing feelings which actually, sounds like a quite violent act towards ourselves.
Therefore, let’s feel the feelings fully as well as work on our evaluations of them. In yoga, we have the principle of ahimsa, which means non-violence. Both, against ourselves we want to be non-violent by being good with our body and mind, but also against our environment and all beings. Non-violent, good thinking, comes into play when we work towards a positive evaluation of the world. When we are capable to influence our thinking in such a way we do not just change ourselves but we are able to change the whole surrounding world. Let me give you an example.
Spider: Just As You
Sunday morning, you are in a super good mood and just about to jump into the shower. But, what do you see right in front of you in the shower tray? A huge spider sitting there and supposedly wanting to prevent you from having a shower and a happy morning. Stop. Where are these stories coming from? A spider wants to ruin your morning? I doubt it. Much more likely: The spider did not have such a good morning as you did and ended up in this stupid shower tray by accident and is now dreaming and hoping of soon sitting in the middle of a lush green plant. Just as you the spider wants to have a good morning. How do you feel when you reframe the story in such a way? And, as importantly, what are your actions following these thoughts?
Let me go on with the story: You see the spider in the shower tray crossing your lovely morning. You smile and feel happy to realize that you are not alone and can be of help to another being. If someone is around you might say: look at that beautiful animal, we're going to help it get to a better and more comfortable spot. Then you go into action and help the spider and put it in one of the houseplants or on the balcony into the greens if the temperatures allow it. After this action, you feel even better than before because you were able to improve the life of another being.
Thoughts, Words, Actions
The beauty of non-violent thinking is that non-violent words and actions follow. Do however not forget compassion and non-violence against yourself, especially if you do not all the time succeed with good thinking. This compassion helps you to keep going and practice non-violence again and again. In yoga, we remember non-violence, ahimsa, when we chant the following words.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.
May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.
I invite you to consider the way you treat other beings and how much violence is caused due to your actions – possibly by your unconscious behavior. If you take ahimsa seriously and experience the happiness and freedom it brings you and others, one result will be turning vegan. The happiness that results outweighs the presumed effort of changing your diet and behavior.
Further Reading/Listening Suggestion:
- Way better than I can write about "learning to think" in a way that benefits you and others has David Foster Wallace done it in the speech "This is Water".