Many of us have been victims of one form of violence or another, whether it is physical or verbal. Many of us are also perpetrators of this violence on a daily basis, sometimes unknowingly. Violence often stems from issues of fear, anger, and hatred and for almost everyone has detrimental effects to health and well-being. In practicing intentional non-violence, we actually experience effects of well-being. If you are skeptical, read on…
When I went on my first meditation retreat, one of the rules there was no killing. This meant those little insects that fly around or crawl at your feet are off limits to step on or flush down the toilet. One evening I caught a spider by my head next to my bed and immediately went to the toilet to flush it. Then I remembered the rule of no killing. So I intentionally went outside and let it out in a bush. A smile came to my face and I felt I had just saved something rather than killed it. I felt good. I thought that was interesting.
Try this experiment: Next time you find an insect in your house, take a moment to catch it, and let it outside. See how you feel during the process and after.
Note Judgments: If any immediate judgments arise, “this is stupid, ” or “this sounds like hippy stuff,”, mindfulness informs us to just note these judgments and just come back to the experience, so we can know firsthand and not just being informed by our reactive judgments that often hold us back from new experience.
In his book, Creating True Peace, Thich Nhat Hanh gives us brief practice to try to cultivate a greater sense of peace toward ourselves and the entire world:
Breathing in, I am aware of violence within myself and within the world.
Breathing out, I am determined to look with the eyes of compassion at the violence within myself and within the world.
Again, this isn’t something to just look at and judge whether it would be good or bad. This is something try on and see for yourself how it feels. Feel free to try it out. A little more nonviolence in the world, I’m guessing, would be a step in a healing direction individually and globally and it all starts right here.
As always, please share your thoughts, feelings, and stories below. Your interactions provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
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Last reviewed: 6 Jul 2009