When Mahatma Gandhi gave us his philosophy of non-violence, or ahimsa, I believe he was preaching the highest form of self-love.
Self-love not only means accepting myself the way I am, warts and all. It also means never tolerating anything – even from myself – that harms or disempowers me in any way.
In the things that I will not tolerate, I include violence. Its easy to perceive violence from an external source. Its much harder to detect the internal violence we wreak on ourselves all the time.
We harm ourselves everyday by tolerating –
- The negative thoughts we think
- The unhealthy diet and lifestyle we live
- The limiting beliefs we harbour
- The unethical actions we take
To me, ahimsa means loving and respecting myself so that I accept nothing less than being my best self.
Every time I give in to my fears, cheat on my diet, tell a lie, lose faith in myself, blame and judge myself, or do anything to harm my body or mind, I am hurting myself.
Every time I allow myself to be less than I am capable of being, I am committing an act of violence on myself.
Its not easy, as Gandhi himself noted, for us human beings to be our best selves all the time. And by being my best self, I dont mean being perfect. Im only human, after all.
The important thing is to be aware of my goal at all times. To pick myself up, correct my course and continue on my way every time I take a fall.
Non-violence applies not only to actions that affect others, but also to those that affect me.
It means I will only put into my mouth foods that nurture my body, only harbour thoughts that nurture my mind, only be in a relationship that nurtures my emotions.
It also includes rising above my fears and giving up excuses about why I can’t reach my highest goals of physical, emotional and spiritual mastery.
If it seems like a stretch of the imagination to equate self-mastery with non-violence, remember that when you truly love yourself, you won’t tolerate anything that will harm you.
Don’t use ahimsa as a noun, but as a verb. It’s a process and a way of life that requires a lot of self-discipline. But I believe its worth it.
Because the philosophy of ahimsa, when applied to myself, is the greatest form of self-love there is.