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JAN 2020. MONTHLY INSPIRATION
This Month: Non-Violence (Ahimsa): Learning to Love Yourself.
Previous months: Monthly Inspiration.
Did you also have a friendship-notebook when you were younger? I know that a popular wish of my friends back then was: PEACE. You could say that this is the same as Non-Violence, so doing no harm. Did you know that the foundation of the Yoga philosophy is that we harm no living beings? The first guideline is called ‘Ahimsa’ meaning ‘Non-Violence’.
Non-Violence is the first step among 10 so-called ‘steps’ which help you live life according to the Yoga ethics. It’s not really a linear process. Depending on what’s happening in your life, one certain ethic will be more important than another for you for a certain amount of time. You ‘simply’ work with what is present.
Now whether you call yourself a yogi or not, these basic ethical guidelines are essential for all of us in our daily lives. These guidelines are also referred to as ‘yamas’ and ‘niyamas’ and they guide us on how to deal with our inner – and outer world.
I think these ethics are so wonderful, because they help us make choices and they serve us, the people around us and the people we don’t know. Of course, this all comes back to the thought that we are all connected (All-One) and that whatever we do, has an effect on the world around us and vice versa.
How come do I know about this? I love learning: I read, I study and follow (online) courses and I love sharing what I know in writing. It’s my preferred learning style and thus teaching style. I got introduced to the book from Deborah Adele ‘The Yamas & Niyamas. Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice’ via the various Yoga Teacher Trainings that I have followed throughout the years.
I have read Deborah Adele’s book quite a few times and I find it useful every time I read it. Therefore, I decided to use the ‘Yamas and Niyamas’ as monthly themes for some extra inspiration. I hope it will let us all look at life from a more ethical viewpoint. And I hope it will guide us on what we can do to treat ourselves more compassionately and let this ripple out into the world.
“Think of all the comments that you hear inside of your head about yourself throughout the whole day and especially the ones that you hear when you look into the mirror: ‘What do you say to yourself?’, ‘What do you hear?’ and ‘How does this make you feel?’ …”.
Thus; … Ready for January’s theme?
Non-Violence (Ahimsa) is what we will look at this month.
So, let’s take a look at Non-Violence closer to home.
How Non-Violent are you towards yourself, others and the world?
Let’s look at:
Learning to love yourself
The theme of ‘learning to love yourself’ reminds me of a story a Yoga teacher once told me: “Think of all the comments that you hear inside of your head about yourself throughout the whole day and especially the ones that you hear when you look into the mirror: ‘What do you say to yourself?’, ‘What do you hear?’ and ‘How does this make you feel?’ …”. This confrontation with our own critical voice can be quiet shocking!
She continued: “Chances are that you’re not so kind to yourself!”. Oh, so true, don’t you think? That is what most of us do I believe: we talk negatively about ourselves to ourselves. I know at least I am guilty here ;)!
Then she continued: “Now think of all those comments. What would you do if your best friend were to say these things to you every day and multiple times a day?”.
What would you do? …
Think about it. Like that teacher said: “You would show her the door immediately!”. Funny isn’t it, we want peace for everybody in this world, but we can’t even walk by a mirror and be non-violent towards ourselves. So, let’s choose for Non-Violence instead please!
Deborah Adele describes that our inner strength and character determine whether we can live with love, warmth and peace in our hearts. How do we do that? According to her by ‘simply’ living life: by doing our things in this world with courage, love and compassion.
I can hear you think: “…great words, but I still don’t know HOW on earth I can find peace in my heart?”. I know how hard it is to be kind, especially to ourselves. So, let’s go back to the example of the mirror.
Here’s a tip from Louise Hay that I love. Every time you walk past the mirror, you say: “Hello Gorgeous!” or “Hello Handsome!” to yourself. To yourself? Yes, that is where you begin. First be non-violent and supportive to yourself. The rest will follow.
Non-Violence | Reflective questions
How to work with the theme yourself? Get a notebook, dedicate it to answering the questions I will ask you each month regarding the monthly theme and see where that will lead you. Simply allow yourself to explore the topics.
Body | Mind | Spirit
Regarding the areas in your life, you can think about how you treat your psychical body and whether you allow yourself to notice the sensations in your body (emotions). Think about the thoughts and feelings (= labelled and judged emotions) that keep you busy (at night) and think about your overall mood, attitude and character (spirit) towards life. So, look at Non-Violence at the following levels:
- Body (physical body + sensations)
- Mind (feelings + thoughts)
- Spirit (mood, attitude and character)
Yourself | Others | The World
Also, interesting to keep in mind is, what would you wish for:
- The people around you (the people you know)
- The world (people you don’t know)
Take some time to answer the following reflective questions:
- What does Non-Violence mean to you?
- If you could choose another word for it, what synonym would most resonate with you?
- How non-violent are you on a scale of 0-10 (0 = Not at all + 10 = Very Non-Violent)?
- In what areas of your life are you not non-violent at all? So; what needs most attention regarding becoming non-violent?
- In what areas of your life would you like to be more non-violent? So; where can you improve and be less violent towards yourself and/or others?
- In what areas of your life would you say, you are non-violent already? So; what goes well already, and perhaps leaves room for an even more non-violent approach?
- What’s your intention regarding being (more) non-violent?
- What do you wish for yourself, others and the world?
- What’s your plan? How are you going to make sure you will allow yourself the time, energy and dedication to work on your intention?
- What will you need to live up to your intention? Courage, compassion, patience?
- Will you need someone who will hold you accountable? If so, could you ask that person to guide you on this topic and let him/her keep you accountable for when you don’t keep to your intentions?
- Is there an object that reminds you of being non-violent? Can you get it and put it somewhere as a symbol of your intention?
- Think about your senses. What does Non-Violence look like, taste like, smell like, feel like (touch) …? For example: “It looks like rays of the sun in the morning sky, it tastes like lemon merengue that melts on my tongue, it smells like a fresh baked cake and it feels like a warm, woollen scarf”.
- Is there anything else that comes to mind? Just write it down.
Looking back at what you wrote down: What’s most evident? …
Or in other words: What became clear to you and what did you learn from this experience?
Enhancing peace (Non-Violence) starts with taking care of yourself. Here are some tips on taking care of yourself and learning to love yourself. The tips will get you going in the right direction.
Tips for more self-love
- Allow yourself plenty of healthy and nourishing food and drinks.
- Get a good amount of sleep and rest when you need to.
- Get outside daily for some fresh air and exercise daily. Keep your body in shape.
- Work on creating and maintaining positive and supportive relationships.
- Take on doable and healthy challenges.
- Think positive, loving thoughts, even though it might not be your best day.
- Get in touch with your needs and express them. Remember the other person may say ‘no’,
and that is fine too.
- Do nothing for an hour, a few hours or even a whole day and digest all impressions of daily life.
- Create space in your agenda for some ME-time.
- Spend some time alone. Phone off. PC off. No music. No talking. Embrace the silence.
Last, but not least: Listen to the voice inside of your head and allow this voice to direct you to a more non-violent way of being and towards a life filled with love and actions coming from a place of kindness and compassion.
Good to know!
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With love and care,
Marianne de Kuyper
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// I, Marianne (founder) am a Dutch girl going global. Even though (the team and) I reread everything multiple times, my apologies in case I’ve made a language mistake somewhere. Just email me about it. I’ll be happy to adjust it if I can and learn from it! //