ahimsa and spiders

Yesterday I walked into Veda's nursery to put her down for a nap. I laid her down in her crib and then went over to the window to close the drapes. I reached up and saw a big gray-brown spider staring back at me. He jerked a little bit and I winced and yanked my hand back. And then I didn't know what to do…

In yoga, the first Yama (ethical rules) is Ahimsa. Ahimsa means non-violence. And at first glance that may sound like an easy thing to do… not be cruel toward fellow human beings. But Ahimsa goes beyond that: it requires harmlessness and not causing pain to any living creature in thought, word or deed. Including spiders.

If all things are connected as part of this beautiful creation… then spiders are part of that, too. Right? So how could I mindfully kill this creepy hairy fanged beast that might potentially bite my daughter's toe in her slumber and cause her legs to swell up and fall off?

And of course, Veda was watching me from her crib. So if I went off and started wailing on the thing, she would've taken note in her little baby brain that it's ok to smash little creatures. And later I'd have to battle with the distinction that it's ok to kill spiders, but it's not ok to even slightly smack the dog or step on the kitty's tail? We want to teach respect and ahimsa for all life.

So, while all this was sweeping through my mind, I glanced back at Veda for a second and then looked back to the spider and he had disappeared… making my decision easy, but also creeping me out and making me swear that it was in my pant leg. In my hair. In my shoe. Eep!

Keeping a calm exterior, I closed the drapes and checked to see if I could spot the spider anywhere. And when I couldn't, I left the room so Veda could nap.

So I ask you: Is yours a family that kills spiders on sight? Or are you of the catch-and-release party?