( In my city, Toronto (Canada), school teachers have been given a monthly theme to teach in the classroom. The Toronto District School Board calls it Character Development. I went to the Yoga In My School specialist – Donna Freeman for some insight into the monthly themes. Thanks to Donna for this monthly series on Character Development.)
December Character Development Theme: Kindness and Caring
Kindness and Caring the Foundation of Yogic Philosophy
By Donna Freeman
In our home we have one rule. Yes, remarkably, one principle rule to govern all our actions and interactions. It is “Be Kind.” When that one rule is followed life is in harmony. We respect one another. We are responsible for our things and our time. We help without whining. We use kind words. We express gratitude. We show love through small, thoughtful actions. Truly kindness is the key to a happy home and a fulfilling life.
Ahimsa—non violence—is the yogic philosophy which teaches kindness and caring. It is in essence living with an attitude of not wanting to harm anyone or anything, including yourself, in work, thought or action. From this basic core value all other yamas and niyamas are erected. Ahimsa is the foundation upon which basic values are built.
The first step to living with ahimsa is becoming aware of our habits. Only through awareness do we realise exactly how we are living. Once we are aware we are able to improve upon our weakness and build upon our strengths.
Throughout life there will be times which naturally call for greater ahimsa. Tragedies bring out our compassion. Life’s curve balls will teach us kindness as we recognize the help and thoughtfulness shown to us by others during our times of need. Involving children in acts of service and charity is a wonderful way to instill in them a sense of concern and caring for others.
Christmas is an Opportunity to Look Outside of Selfishness
Christmas, with its season of giving and goodwill toward all men, is often an opportunity to look outside of selfish wants and desires and serve others. Volunteering at a soup kitchen, giving generously to a charity, filling boxes at the local food bank, and many other opportunities of service to our fellow man are ways to live with ahimsa: to embody kindness and caring.
Often the most difficult way of incorporating this principle into our life is though regarding ourselves through ahimsa. Negative self-talk, always striving for perfection, and personal expectations of our behaviour and accomplishments need to be tempered through a feeling of kindness to self. Be gentle with yourself. Develop your softer side. Do something you love. Treat your body and mind with care.
Take the time today to live with ahimsa.
- Begin by becoming aware of your interactions. Do you approach life from a foundation of non-violence?
- Next decide to interact with people positively: to express compassion in thoughts and actions.
- Finally remember that you are worth the same kindness and care you express to others.
Remember the one rule “Be Kind” and enjoy a joyful and rewarding life.