November 4, 2014.
Taken as a prisoner of war and then isolated from his fellow inmates, Timothy was expected to survive on only a glass of water and one slice of bread each day. Although his body was being starved, it was his soul that was withering away. When he received the meager ration, all he could imagine was the satisfaction of sharing it with others in communion. Timothy envisioned cutting his one small piece of bread into four pieces. Clandestinely, he figured out a way he could give all but one of the miniscule pieces of bread to three of his fellow prisoners at exercise time each day.
To even think that others might be taking part in the same eating ritual was warm and comforting to his hungry heart. With each subsequent delivery, the risk was greater. After his successes, he would return to his cell with a sense of deep gratitude. Sitting very still, Timothy would spend a moment in silent prayer. Slowly and consciously he would eat the quarter piece of bread as if it was a great feast that he was sharing with his three “guests” and entire family. He could almost “touch” them seated with him at a grand table. Savoring each morsel, his heart and soul received more nourishment than his body.
On his liberation from prison, he was thin and frail, yet charged with vigor and health. Instead of bitterness that some felt, he was filled with the spirit of thankfulness and communion.
Ahimsa, or nonharming, is the basis for the yogic diet–in what we eat and how we eat–to do as little harm as possible.
I was talking about the concept of non-harming to one of my groups of heart patients. Many blank stares filled the faces. Because of their conditions, they diligently ate a diet low in fat and filled with nourishing vegetables, grains, and fruits, thinking only of the benefits of clearing out their arteries. They didn’t realize the many other benefits that were taking place.
Finally, after I’d spent some time talking about Ahimsa, a gentle soul with the title of Dr. raised his finger just slightly. “Do you have a question or comment?” I asked hopefully.
“I have been eating a vegetarian diet now for over a year, I never thought about nonharming. Now that I reflect on it, do you think that could be the reason that butterflies land on me now?” My eyes welled up with tears and I gently said, “That could be the reason.”
True Ahimsa is when we have the strength and ability to do harm but, instead, make the decision to do no harm, to experience a sacredness for all life.
Once I sat at a lunch counter, a young boy next to me. Both of us were eating burgers. Mine was a veggie burger and his was a beef burger. He eyed my sandwich with curiosity. What was the difference? The same bun, the same ketchup, tomato, lettuce; yet something was different.
“What is that?” He finally mustered the courage to ask.
“A veggie burger,” I answered, knowing exactly what he was asking.
“Why do you eat that?”
“Because I don’t want to kill animals to live.”
He went into deep thought and came back with this profound insight: “All the animals must love you very much.” Words of wisdom from the petite kingdom!
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❤ The Healing Path of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi
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