Practicing Ahimsa at the Pottery Studio
Ahimsa, one of the guiding principles of the Yoga Sutras, is the concept of non-violence or non-harming. It's kind of a big deal, having inspired the words and actions of some of the best-known and loved peacemakers of our time, like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
There are some fairly obvious ways to think about and apply the concept of Ahimsa, even within the somewhat unique context of a small pottery studio like ours:
We can use and share the space in a considerate way, taking care of studio tools and equipment and maintaining an orderly environment so that we are less likely to accidentally damage somebody else's work.
We can support each other as we work--either with kind words and friendly conversation when that's what's called for or by respecting somebody's wish to create quietly or keep to themselves.
Although maybe a little less obvious, responsible use of water and recycling clay help us protect important natural resources, practicing non-harm to the planet. Plus, it can be a fun challenge, at least in my opinion (May I never lose the giddy feeling that comes from transforming slop from the bucket under the sink to fresh recycled clay.!)
But what else can we do? Core to the idea of non-harming is the recognition that we are all the same. Putting a twist on the more familiar golden rule of "do unto others...", within the concept of Ahimsa lies the recognition that when we hurt others, we hurt ourselves, in kind.
OK, so then how about this? If Ahimsa guides your relationships with others, how does it reflect in your relationship to yourself--especially when it comes to pottery making?
Do you judge your work or your progress negatively? Do you feel guilty if you're not making pieces that are big enough, perfect enough, "whatever" enough? Next time the negativity arises, think about Ahimsa and trust that the act of awareness is a positive step toward releasing self-harming thoughts that can hinder our ability to tap into our true spirit.
I'm curious to explore Ahimsa as a creative force in the year ahead. Some of the harming conversations that take place in my own head revolve around my feeling that I'm more of a craftsperson than a "capital A" artist. What's the distinction? In my moments of self doubt, I will never be an artist because I'm not good at conceptualizing beauty--I'm great at appreciating it, but I'm only sometimes semi-OK at re-creating somebody else's artistic vision. What will happen to my creative spirit if I keep working on Ahimsa? in my relationship to art and clay..?