Well here I am on the last day of my “Ahimsa Intensive”. It’s somewhat ironic that I chose to consciously practice Ahimsa (said to be the bedrock of all other Yamas and Niyamas) during the shortest month of the year. Perhaps things worked out that way because non-violence is already engrained in us. We ARE kind and compassionate beings by nature; we just forget sometimes. No one comes out of the womb with hate in their heart. Love is innate; hate is learned. Which leads me to believe that hate can be unlearned, that we can return to loving, or at least being nicer to, each other, including our animal friends and environment. I was not a perfect vegetarian, and let’s be honest, veganism was never going to happen (coffee without cream.. gasp!). But I was more conscious of my food choices in how they were produced, prepared, and consumed, whether by me or someone else. I like to think I have been more aware of my words and thoughts, if they were helpful or hurtful. The adage “If you can’t say anything nice…” has come into play a few times. I have also been thinking about the question “Is it better to be nice or right?”, which leads to next month’s Yama, Satya, or truthfulness. Isn’t it funny that these two precepts are placed sequentially, as they are so closely related (don’t kill, don’t lie) yet at times at odds with each other. Sometimes being kind is not in line with being completely honest, so I am interested if my “Month of Honesty” will undo some of the qualities I have supposedly cultivated during my “Month of Non-violence”. I hope not, but we shall see! That’s really the challenge and beauty of all the Yamas and Niyamas – to practice them ALL simultaneously without forgetting any of them. How do we do that? With kindness, compassion, and of course, love.