Cicadas, spiders, moths, and mosquitoes all come with the territory of summer in the District. Some insects, like cicadas and crickets, provide months of ambient song, impressively resonating over the bustle of city noise. Their presence is rather pleasant, as they for the most part keep to themselves, letting their music add to the summer’s sweltering atmosphere.
Then there’s the array of insects, that are just a plain nuisance. Our culture has it made that the indoors and outdoors are completely separated. There are huge strides to prevent outdoor pests from coming in, (even when you’re outside) whether its hiring an exterminator, wearing bug spray, or simply swatting the gnats out of existence. These precautions are quite opposite of Ahimsa, the first Yama of the from the Eight Limbs of Yoga, which is set to practice compassion toward all living things.
But how do we practice compassion toward pests that swarm our legs the moment we step outside? With all the scare of West Nile and Lyme Disease, shouldn’t we defend our bodies from entities that could potentially carry parasites and disease? Our own well-being is absolutely important, but keeping it in check means blurring the lines on Ahimsa’s fundamental principles when dealing with more insignificantly small life-forms.
I’ve heard a lot of people comment that being outdoors would be more enjoyable if it weren’t for all the bugs, especially mosquitoes. What’s their purpose of existence anyway? Well, to be fair, if we’re going to question the existence of a moth, a mealworm, or a mosquito, then we should also question the existence of everything else out there, from clouds to buildings, to our very selves.
Existence in its very self is full of things that are bothersome. There are plenty of people who frown upon bad weather for instance. It’s raining, and it hinders them from wanting to go outside, just as much as the fear of mosquitoes. The thing is, if we shy away from doing things because of hopes to avoid the annoyance of little things, from bugs to raindrops, then we miss out on the larger picture. All those little things add up to create the whole.
It takes an extreme amount of awareness and practice to break the habits of negative thought and action, but it helps to give it effort over time. Educating yourself about the patterns of cyclic things like insects and rainfall can help you become better at understanding and accepting things around you. Know how to positively deal with and remove frustrations and concerns that are around you, and vice versa. Ahimsa is all about practicing non-violence, which encompasses pure action and pure thought. Being annoyed by your environment for petty reasons causes just as much internal struggle as a little prick from a bug bite would. By accepting and embracing things around you for what they are, and for going with the flow of everyday life, you’ll find more peace within yourself.