Forgive and forget. So we’re told, at least. But is it ever that simple? For many of us, if we feel we’ve been hurt or wronged in some way, we find it easier to just hold on to the anger or resentment and carry a grudge. There’s a certain degree of comfort in re-living the pain, and thoughts of revenge might even energize us. However, holding on to this negativity is not healthy, and even though the actions that wounded us may still remain part of our lives, finding forgiveness helps us live a life that is focused on the positive rather than the negative.
Living with a sense of hurt affects us physically, spiritually and emotionally, so while we work on finding the capacity to forgive, we should acknowledge that this may not happen instantaneously. If we’re reacting to events that took place early in life, it might even take us years to allow ourselves to forgive. But since deep-seated indignation usually causes us to bring that anger and resentment into our new relationships and experiences, it is important to make the effort to let it go.
Kundalini Yoga offers many tools to release anger, bitterness and resentment, and to find ways to forgive. Emotional negativity takes a considerable physical toll on the body. Muscles tense, circulation and digestion are impeded, we can get headaches and neck aches, and the body releases cortisol, or stress hormones. It’s important to be aware of these physical reactions and work to counter them. A few minutes of long deep breathing can help to start, or check out the “Quick Stress Reduction Techniques” in Guru Rattana’s Relax and Renew.
A key component in forgiveness is to move away from our view of ourselves as victims. If we believe someone has victimized us, we are granting them power over us. We dwell on the injustice of the situation, sometimes feeling that there’s just no way to get over it. In some cases, we might even find ourselves repeating the same actions that led to the hurt in the first place! It’s important to take control of our lives and develop our personal power to change these patterns of behavior. A great kriya to help with this is the “Kriya to Relieve Inner Anger,” from the Owner’s Manual for the Human Body. This relatively short kriya wakes up the third chakra, or navel center, and then opens the heart to love and understanding.
At times, the hurt is so deep or long-lasting that we have to overcome years of conditioning. We may never be able to accept what was done to us, and the other person may never apologize, but it’s important to learn to let go. Try practicing the meditation “Stress Relief and Clearing Emotions of the Past” from I Am A Woman: Creative, Sacred, Invincible.
Stress Relief and Clearing Emotions of the Past
This meditation is especially useful for dealing with stressful relationships and with past family issues. It addresses phobias, fears, and neuroses. It can remove unsettling thoughts from the past that surface into the present. It can take difficult situations in the present and release them into the Hands of Infinity. Practice for the full time given or until you feel relief from the stress.
Time: Anywhere from 3 to 31-minutes
1. Sit in Easy Pose with a straight spine.
2. Place the hands at the center of the chest with the tips of the thumbs touching each other and each of the fingers touching the corresponding fingers on the opposite hand.
3. Leave space between the palms. The fingertips are pointing upward.
4. Look at the tip of the nose.
5. Breathe 4 times per minute: inhale 5 seconds, hold 5 seconds, exhale 5 seconds.
An option when completing this meditation would be to chant the Guru Ram Das Mantra, to open yourself to humility and healing. There are many beautiful versions of this mantra available, but my favorite weaves the Ra Ma Da Sa healing mantra into the chant, on Mirabai Ceiba’s CD Flores.
While working on forgiveness, it’s not uncommon to realize that part of our journey requires us to forgive ourselves. This may be the most challenging step of all, as we tend to be our own harshest critics. There is a “Forgiveness Meditation”, from the book Meditations for Addictive Behavior, A System of Yogic Science with Nutritional Formulas by Mukta Kaur Khalsa Ph.D that you can practice for 11 minutes a day that is designed to help forgive both others and the self. As this kriya teaches, “The power of forgiveness transcends time and space and allows us to move forward with ease and confidence. As we forgive ourselves, forgive others and receive forgiveness, our hearts open to the light and love within.”
Wishing you love and light in your journey to forgiveness and inner peace. Sat nam.