A Buddhist in the City

by Nicole Smith on September 29, 2012

I grew up in the country but live in the heart of New York City. To me, NYC is loud, crowded, and can be very overwhelming. A few years ago after returning from my yoga teacher training in India, I was very inspired to start practicing Ahmisa, or Non-Harming in my life. I have always found setting little practices for myself, or “rules”, to be an extremely helpful way for me to keep a practice long enough to see if it actually creates positive change. I didn’t realize that this Ahimsa practice would change my view on the city or the way that I interact with people as much as it has, but it did. I now see the city as friendlier, interesting, and extremely beautiful.

Here are a few of my “Ahimsa Rules” that I have been practicing for the past two years that have definitely made my life happier, more enriched, and rewarding. Try them out and let me know what happens!

1. When you make eye contact with someone on the street, smile.  (It doesn’t have to be a silly fake smile, but a close-mouthed friendly smile will do. It’s amazing how many people will smile back at you. Your mood will change to positive immediately and you can be sure that it will change many people’s moods to a more positive one too!  It’s a “pay it forward” chain reaction, all started by your simple friendly smile!)

2. If you get bumped into by someone on the street, immediately say, “I’m sorry” to him or her.  (Even if it is not your fault, if you make it a habit to apologize first, the anger will leave you and 99% of the time the other person will soften too and apologize. Even if they don’t, it’s easier to let it go.)

3. When in the subway, do metta meditation.  (The positive and friendly wishes/vibes you give out with metta can change a whole train. It also builds your compassion for other people in a way that you start seeing individuals around you…I mean REALLY seeing them. It’s beautiful!)

4. Go vegetarian.  (Even if you don’t go full vegetarian, eating less meat with a purpose of not wanting to kill animals is good enough. You might be inspired to eventually just give it up all together. I did. I never thought I’d be one to give up meat but when I really thought about what had to happen for me to eat it, I realized that I could never kill an animal if I didn’t have to and that I didn’t’ need to. It was a mind-blowing discovery. However, if you love the taste of meat, no worries, start small. I was there once too, I get it. Just be vegetarian at least HALF the time. You will be making a big difference in the world and your compassion and awareness is heightened by it immensely.)

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