Award-winning author and preacher Max Lucado once said, "Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and … realizing you were the prisoner!"
Everyone experiences wrongdoings by others that affects them personally on a deep and profound level (husbands cheating or compulsive liars, for example). And unless you are perfect (you aren't), you have probably caused dilemma and hardship on others. Maybe you had a falling out with a friend or a petty argument that resulted in a friendship terminated. Forgiving is a hard task that requires courage, acceptance and empathy. Psychologists define forgiveness as "a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness." The key words here are 'consciousness', and letting go of 'resentment' and 'vengeance'.
Yoga practice, philosophy and yogic lifestyle is cultivated through devotion and practice. Where there have been wrong-doings, yoga teaches us the spirit of forgiveness. When someone asks you to forgive, your first thought and/or response is to shun that person. Maybe you think it makes you feel powerful and in control. But the one asking for forgiveness is admitting fault and is doing something that requires great strength.
Anything that bothers you is only a problem from within; only you can experience it and only you can correct it. I don't have a problem with procrastination, but I read a self-help book called Eat That Frog. The premise and bottom line of this book is to analyze priorities. Which thing on your "to do" list is your most daunting (least favorite) task? Pinpoint that task and do it first thing in the morning. What a weight off the shoulders! When I am at odds with someone I care about, it keeps me up at night. My conscious is overbearing and I want to correct the problem, forgiving or being forgiven, as soon as possible.
Yoga has taught me that sometimes, people need time to heal and recover from the hurt they caused (if they are the offender). Or, if it is someone else that wants to correct the harm they inflicted upon you, you can put it off until you find empathy and acceptance for that person. Time is the greatest healer. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting the past. Forgiveness is compassionately accepting an apology with complete understanding and empathy. I had a falling out with my best friend over a year ago and it took nine months (of no communication) for her to accept that what I did that hurt her feelings. It made me, the offender, feel completely relieved when my apology was accepted. I actually obsessed over the termination of our friendship to the point where my close friends and boyfriend told me to "let go and let God". I was deeply hurt, confused, powerless, bitter and filled with regret. After the period of resentment on her part, she shared with me that it actually made her feel better about herself to let the hurt go. Complete serenity and joy for the both of us.
This taught me that forgiveness is a process that takes time. I am powerless over others' actions and where they are in their resentment process. If I do the next right thing, I find that I am on the path to freedom. Yoga allows me to accept this process and reduce the burden and sadness that I experience as the offender.
Turning the other cheek actually improves health:
• Lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, and decrease in the stress hormone, cortisol.
• Holding onto a grudge leads to symptoms of depression. Resentments equate burdens.
• Happiness unfolds when true forgiveness is given, to both parties.
• Improved sleep quality.
• Forgiveness opens the heart which has been clamped shut by resentments.
• Forgiveness is a powerful and positive attitude, as stated by Martin Luther King, Jr.
• Forgiveness displays kindness and a desire to correct.
• Finally, and obviously, forgiveness repairs important relationships through proper communication before they disappear completely.
How do you experience and handle forgiveness, as the forgiver and/or the offender?
Mantra of the Day: I work on my problems, and then I release them.