We all have fears, no matter how trivial or consuming. Just the other night I watched a stink bug back away in the face of a hissing kitten, over and over again as she circled him. Like the little bug, our fears are sometimes meant to protect us.
My fear of spiders was not protecting me. If anything it was keeping me from fun spider-related activities. Studying the Yoga Sutras has challenged the way I see other living beings, from spiders to humans.
Ahimsa is a sanskrit word that means non-violence and is one piece of the Ashtanga philosophy. Since introducing this concept into my life I've slowly shifted a lot of my own practices. When I simply think of non-violence I say, "Yes, I am non-violent, I don't pick fights with people." But when we begin to study what it means, non-violence becomes much deeper. I've begun to think about my actions from a place of compassion, "Do I need to kill this spider?"
From there it branches out. I wonder about my clothes when I buy them new, "Was anyone harmed in the making? How does the pollution from the process effect the ecosystem around it?" These are simple questions with big answers that we usually don't get to see.
But like a spiders web, everything in life on this earth is connected. From economics to health, and our daily decisions have a direct impact.
In the early morning, my dog Lupin likes to wake up and pant in my face until I wake up. If the ground isn't frozen I like to walk outside barefoot with him and play in the yard, check in on the plants, ground myself for the day. Most of these cold fall nights bring a heavy cloud to the hill that rolls down into the village or evaporates as the sun comes up. And left behind are perfectly intact webs filled with drops of water.
The beauty and intricacy of the webs are so emphasized by the water, it becomes easy for me to see the beauty of spiders in other ways. Once I genuinely opened my eyes I couldn't see them as a threat. Instead of throwing a tantrum fit for a five year old when I cross paths with one, I now stop to find something I can appreciate about it.
And I watch and listen for other kinds of beauty around me too. I fill my days with it. I can honestly say that it feels better than any other perspective I've historically adopted.