How to Start Living a Peaceful, Gentle Life Right Now

Graffiti art on metal with a hand painted picture of Gandhi's face and the quote, "An Eye for An Eye Makes the Whole World Blind"

Updated August 24, 2018

In the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions, ahimsa, considered one of the five great virtues of man, is the principle of nonviolence and compassion toward all living things. The origin of the word, ahimsa, is from the Sanskrit language: a ‘non-, without’ + hiṃsā ‘violence.’ If more of us focused brought ahimsa into our consciousness and hearts, the world would be a whole different place.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi promoted ahimsa in his life's work and applied ahimsa to all arenas of life and living.

Ahimsa is in Hinduism, it is in Christianity as well as in Islam... Nonviolence is common to all religions, but it has found the highest expression and application in Hinduism (I do not regard Jainism or Buddhism as separate from Hinduism).
— Gandhi

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A depiction of the ahimsa icon

A depiction of the ahimsa icon

Ahimsa tends to include the following loving lifestyle practices and leads to an overall more peaceful life:

  • Practicing vegetarianism and even greater, veganism, in both food and clothing choices. Would we eat our pets? No. So then why would we eat any other animal? The animals commonly consumed in the world are quite intelligent and they feel fear including at the moment of their brutal deaths. That energy goes right into the meat we eat.
  • Refraining from hunting and fishing whether to kill or to wound and release. How would you feel if you were at risk of being hunted and killed by beings with weapons that put you at a complete disadvantage?
  • Eliminating the caging of animals and visiting animals in zoos (animal sanctuaries for the wounded would not apply here) and taking in abandoned pets from animal shelters and giving them all the love we have to give.
  • Treating pets with love and respect as well as creating structure within ourselves so that our pets are not relegated to mirroring our chaos.
  • Refusing to patronize companies, people or countries that practice cruelty toward or testing on animals.
  • Taking loving care of our own bodies with high frequency exercise such as yoga, martial arts, distance meditative walking; see this former blog post for one such simple exercise.
  • Adopting moderation in the food, drink and substances we take into our bodies such as food, alcohol, sugar, fats, drugs, tobacco, and ceremony medicines like cannabis and mushrooms. Moderation, not necessarily abstinence.
  • Meditating almost daily for a short period of time being sure to include some form of prayer before or after. Declaring our intention for the day is a wonderful way to go out into the world as an ambassador of peace and loving kindness.
  • Creating a serene home environment that will support the nonviolent tendencies that live innately within us. This blog post of ours provides more than a dozen tips.
  • Gently rejecting negative and destructive self-talk realizing this is the ego talking and not us and that exactly the opposite is true about ourselves; this is practicing non-violent thinking.
  • Enriching our attitudes towards life by reading uplifting, inspiring books and passages.
  • Slowing down if we tend to rush through life; relaxing and getting present to life; living life in a relaxed state of being.
  • Recycling all that we no longer use including clothing, furniture, tools, food scraps.
  • Buying organic and vegan to support the people and the companies with a conscience and to support the living organisms and cells of our bodies with life abundant.
  • Walking or riding a bicycle whenever possible; this causes us to observe and appreciate our environment more and it’s great exercise for the body and the mind.
  • Cutting way back on our consumption of paper, plastic and synthetic products; looking for creative ways to reduce disposables by investing in stainless steel lunch boxes or bringing our own bags to the grocery store, for example.
  • Becoming more acutely aware of our individual carbon footprint overall and learning how to reduce it. This can be an eye-opening and fun experience at the same time.

Editor's note: This post was originally published on March 19, 2017 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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