Mischief is Not Good Exercise - Halloween Ahimsa
The third harvest is here in the Northern Hemisphere. The Hunter's Moon is bright in the sky.
The last harvest of fall is a time of endings and beginnings. More than a commercial holiday of destruction and gruesome death, the approaching winter was historically a time to reverently mark departure of the living and life-giving fields, and be thankful for the harvests they gave. Revering of elders was observed in analogy.
The first and most important precept of thousands of years of yoga and martial arts is ahimsa. Ahimsa means non-violence, non-harm, non-destruction. Ahimsa was reaffirmed in recent times by the Mahatma Gandhi, and in the West by Martin Luther King, Jr. In all the classes I teach, I remind the students that ahimsa is something you incorporate in all your actions. Don't harm yourself by sitting in injury-producing bad slouching. Don't harm yourself with bad exercise. Don't harm yourself by destructive thoughts and actions. Don't harm yourself with unhealthful food and drink. Don't harm yourself by hunching your shoulders to stress through preparing meals, when you can relax your shoulders, straighten your back, breathe, and use each stoke of washing, cutting, and preparing food as beautiful meditation in the same amount of time. Don't harm others with spiteful words, deeds, and thoughts. Don't cause others fear or pain. Don't cause yourself fear and pain.
In many of the countries where we have traveled and lived, lovely short public service announcements occur daily with kind messages of doing good. Television and radio commercials are paid for with no other purpose than to give specific positive examples of helping each other for a better world. Where we have lived in the US, continuous messages of spiteful and worse behavior are common as entertainment.
Several centers in your brain process self-control. They need exercise like anything else. Studies of imaging these brain centers in people who overeat, showed that with retraining, the centers changed in level of activity when pictures of food were viewed. "Exercising self-control" is more than an expression.
Children, and even adults, need consistent positive examples. It is good and crucial exercise. It is easy to destroy, and takes (but also gives) energy to be good. Instead of "Mischief Night" tonight, do good. Instead of spending money on destroying property with thrown eggs and toilet paper, have fun learning a healthful recipe that you can enjoy for years to come. Learn to stand on your hands safely. Paint or draw a picture of a good wish. Talk about how it can come true. Design and construct inspired homemade costumes. Help the community. Volunteer at a shelter. Exercise your spirit. Develop a fun, beautiful positive public service announcement for your home, or a commercial project, that reminds to uplift spirit and behavior. Teach a child something. Don't wait until they are already doing bad. Teach them consistently, before they know to do either, so that they will more often know to choose good and why.
The average American spends nearly $15 on Halloween candy - more than $1 billion total on unhealthful refined sugar and hydrogenated fat candy - just for Halloween. This is not parental love. It is the same as giving them cigarettes or addictive drugs. Change that. Parental love is giving them beautifully functioning self-control brain centers. Halloween story and ideas in Exercise Common Sense Discipline - Turn Down Halloween Junk Food.
Positive behavior is too important to leave up to only the schools, the entertainment industry, the government, the Internet, the home. We all add ahimsa.
Many chapters of ideas for happy bountiful living are in the book Healthy Martial Arts.
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