In the past I have discussed the concept of ojas. They are a whole topic unto themselves and just as the doshas come in three’s, likewise ojas is one part of a trifecta involving prana and tejas (which we will discuss in the future but for now in a purely physical sense can be thought of as the air we breathe and the fires that metabolize in our body).
Ojas can be thought of in many ways. They are the storehouses of vitality within us, serving to invigorate and empower us. They are responsible for our endurance, they stabilize the immune system, and stabilize the mind. These ojas exist not just in our physical body as a protective raincoat, but also exist in our subtle body (mind) as structure for the channels that carry our thoughts (nadis) and protect us from the potentially destructive aspects of prana and tejas. In the body we experience ojas as health and immunity. In the mind, we experience ojas as contentment in the ordinary and bliss in the enlightened. Ojas are the seed for our enlightened state of bliss.
As you can see, Ojas are extremely important. In fact, in an Ayurvedic sense one must focus on quality and quantity of ojas before almost anything else. Ojas serve as the container for the prana and tejas we have. Without strong ojas, we can become imbalanced quite easily and the doshas can move in and dominate us. It is said that without ojas, the body will be destroyed. Having severely depleted ojas goes hand in hand with being unhealthy and ultimately dying of that unhealthiness.
So I cannot stress this enough – build ojas. Build ojas, build ojas, build ojas!!!
By now you are no doubt wondering “How do I build ojas”?
Well of course, consult a CAS. The intricacies of building ojas depend on your constitution as well as your imbalances. Remember, you are a unique individual and there is no one size fits all treatment for any of us.
However, in a grand, overarching sense, there is one clear way to build ojas: Ahimsa.
Just like the three causes of disease (misuse of the senses, making unhealthy choices, and the passage of time) have a primordial cause (forgetting that we are not separate and are all connected), and by addressing that primordial cause we can cure ourselves fundamentally, so too can Ahimsa in this fundamental sense build ojas for us.
So what is Ahimsa?
Ahimsa is the first step of the Yamas, which are one part of the eightfold path of Yoga. The Yamas and their next stage, the Niyamas, are like a set of rules to follow to reach enlightenment.
Ahimsa quite simply is the first rule:
Do no harm.
Simple and elegant. By doing no harm, we start to lose our destructive thoughts. Then as we make space within, unconditional love can fill it. This is why so many yogis are vegetarian. It is impossible to eat meat and not harm an animal.
No, I am not suggesting the way towards building ojas is to become vegan (although it might help). I have met many vegetarians and vegans who are toxic, rude, and entitled. I have also met many who are kind, gentle, and loving. But not harming animals is just one part of this Yama.
You see, in order to truly benefit from Ahimsa and build ojas, one must do no harm to others, the environment, and one’s own self. In actuality, by harming others and nature we in turn harm ourselves. It is connected and there is no avoiding this. This path of Ahimsa is not easy.
We all are constantly doing harm each and every day:
When we drive our car, we are harming nature.
When we eat fast food, we are harming our body and animals.
When we get pissed off in traffic, we are harming ourselves and others.
When we think ill of others, we are harming others.
When we gossip, we are harming others.
When we get wrapped up in our opinions, we are harming ourselves.
When we become defensive, we are harming ourselves.
When we don’t get a good night’s sleep, we are harming ourselves.
When we get no exercise, we are harming ourselves.
When we overstimulate our mind through media, we are harming ourselves.
Shall I continue?
If I were to ask you to write down a tally every time you had a thought, spoke, or did an action that was doing harm, how many tallies would appear in one day?
Would there be dozens?
Would there be hundreds?
We all have so many opportunities in the day to build ojas. By practicing Ahimsa, we can stop doing harm and open up space for love to flow in. It is ultimately that love that brings us the awareness and clarity to make the right decisions that will build our ojas. It is this heightened awareness of ourselves and our impact that is the key. Start small, with yourself, in the tiniest ways. Begin to reduce the harm you do.
I was narrow minded and defensive once and got into an argument with a friend about this topic. I did it just to put him into his place. I was practicing harm because I had no love for myself and others. He reacted with kindness, patience, and compassion. He said quite simply to me that if we can practice not harming even the tiniest of creatures, then maybe we can begin practicing it on a larger scale. Since he said that to me, I gently pickup bugs in my house and put them outside rather than killing them. It’s these little acts that make room for love. It’s these little acts that build ojas. It is ojas that keep us healthy.
Do no harm.
Let love in.