When I was introduced to the Andean traditions I was particlulary interested in the concept of  It is a Quechua term and means the energetic force to understand the interconnection and dynamic exchange of all things.

It honours that the natural world is communicating with us and sustaining us.

The ultimate aim of Ayni is to create balance, and it encourages us to live a life in inner and outer harmony. It says that we have to be in balance with ourselves to be in balance with the world. 

It entails 3 pillars:

1. Reciprocity / Wheel of life

You may be familiar with the concept of Karma, which has a similar meaning. However, some people misunderstand Karma and it becomes a quiet self-centred idea where people think “what goes around comes around” and so, if I do good I will receive good energy and abundance. The original idea however is more collective and less self-centred. Reciprocity (and Karma) is about giving without expecting anything back. In return you will be rewarded with abundance. It is also about energetic balance. Some people naturally take more energy, others give more energy in form of love or attention. Ayni reminds us that energy is precious and that we want to be careful and resourceful with ours and others energy. We don’t want give more than we receive and take more than we give.

2. Responsibility

Ayni puts great responsibility on the individual and it’s own actions. It links to the indian concept of Dharma which calls for people to take their place in the oneness of all things. It says that everyone of us has a very unique gift and that it is our responsibility to share our unique gift that we came here for share with the world. 

3. Gratitude

More specifically, the ability of seeing the beauty in all and choosing to act from the heart. Animism, a concept that we also can find in the Andean traditions holds the believe that the world is alive with spirits. So, if you send some gratitude to a tree, you connect with its spirit.

Ayni and sustainability

For me, Ayni describes what we aim for when we talk about “sustainability” – Planetary reciprocity – taking from the planet and its resources only what we really need and giving back just as much. Responsible lifestyles – over our actions as individuals in our daily lives… not leaving sustainability to the others, but leading a live that is representatives for the change that we want to see. Deep gratitude – I believe that in order to create a more sustainable future, we have to rebuild our connection to nature and honour its value on a personal level. If we can cultivate real gratitude for the natural beauty and the resources (on an individual, collective, business and governmental level) we have been given on this unique planet, we would treat it differently.

How you may want to practice Ayni in your everyday life:

Give without exhausting your own resources.
Listen within yourself to how much energy reserves are left. Meditation and yoga are a great way to learn to listen to yourself.
Take just what you need. Be a bit more aware when you shop and consume. Is it really something you need? Can you give back by planting or sending gratitude?
Don’t just perceive food as given but give praise and thanks in return of receiveing it.
Honor natural beauty, look at the little things, you can find natural beauty everywhere.

I would love to hear your Ayni story. How could you embed into your life? Please post and comment.