The practice of non-violence is usually understood as doing no harm physically. But from a spiritual perspective, non-violence includes refraining from both physical and energetic harm. In Buddhism and Hinduism, the practice is called ahimsa, which Mahatma Gandhi defined as non-violence in thought, word, and deed.
There is no set amount of years of arduous practice required or an initiation that is needed to shift to the advanced path. However, there are two foundational skills that make the advanced path possible. Without these two skills, there is too much distraction and disharmony for the advanced path to take root.