The holidays bring a sense of warmth and festivity, but can also be a chaotic and stressful time. The other day, I was driving down the freeway, when I witnessed road rage and the near collision of two cars that refused to yield to each other on the freeway. The feeling of tension and frenetic energy during the holidays makes it a particularly busy time for life coaches and therapists. Nothing brings up people’s stuff like holidays – and family time.
Ram Dass said that “if you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” The holidays can be a particularly challenging time because of the associations and obligations we often face – buying gifts, receiving, making plans, attending work parties, spending time with family, loved ones who have departed.. the holidays make us think more deeply and often times react more strongly.
Ahimsa, one of the 10 primary yogic principles, is the practice of non-violence. This includes non-violence towards ourselves in the form of negative self-talk, judgement and resentment. It is refraining from causing pain or injury to any living creature. This includes negative thoughts towards others that can cause as much damage as physical harm. It is more than refraining from doing to harm to others, it includes the practice of love towards others. Ahimsa is considered an act of great strength.
I believe Ahimsa is possible through the conscious act of forgiveness. When you choose to forgive, yourself or others, you are choosing to release a hardened energy within yourself, a form of held tension that separates you from the other. When you don’t forgive, you carry resentment. Resentment is a protective guard against others that you hold within yourself. When you consciously release resentment, you will feel it in your body. There will be a noticeable shift towards lightness and power. That power comes back to you in the form of your own energy and essence.
When you let go and forgive, you receive your own life force energy back. Forgiveness = Energy.
When you have your energy, you have your power and vitality. Forgiveness is a conscious choice in shifting your vibration. You are choosing to lighten up.
Forgiveness is an act of liberation. It is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. When you’re not holding onto past grievances, you have all your energy to be present in life. It allows you to live fully. Forgiveness is deeply healing. How do you forgive? I think creativity, intention and even a little imagination can help us heal all wounds and past hurts.
I don’t even believe you need to know how, but to simply have an intention of forgiveness. You can call upon a higher power, or spiritual guides to help you forgive. If I were to offer any how-to’s on forgiveness, here’s what I’d offer you.
1. Specify what you’re angry about. What did the other person do to you? Was it intentional or did you assume it was intentional? Is the other person aware of how much he/she hurt you?
2. Practice Self-Observation. Notice the thoughts you have when you choose not to forgive and the way it affects your health and energy. What happens when you don’t forgive? Where does your attention and energy tend to go? What is the story you keep telling yourself over and over again about the other?
3. Imagine Being The Other. For a moment, take yourself out of your own shoes, and imagine being the other person. Imagine them as a child. What was it like for them to grow up? What was their experience like for them to have behaved the way they did towards you? Meditate on being the other person and seeing the situation from his/her point of view.
4. Reflect. Take time to reflect on what happened and how the situation came into being between you and the other. What was the initial intention or feeling? What unspoken agreements were broken? How were you drawn to each other, and what unfolded as a result?
5. Shapeshift Your Perspective. Look at your situation from a bird’s eye perspective that can see 360 degrees, across all time and space. What would it look like 200 years from now? Would you still feel the same? What if it wasn’t personal?
6. Take responsibility. It takes 2 to have a misunderstanding. What was your part in what happened? What did you do to communicate the truth? How did you respond and take responsibility in the matter?
7. Forgive the Other. What would it be like to forgive the other person? To simply have an intention to forgive? How does it feel in your body?
8. Forgive Yourself. Can you forgive yourself for what happened? For the judgements, resentments or actions you took? What would it be like to wholly forgive yourself.
9. Choose To Learn. What do you feel that you learned from the situation? About yourself? What would you do differently in the future?
10. Take Positive Action. Transform your hurt into positive action. If someone cheated you for your money, consider giving money away as a way to reverse the energetic imprint it created in your life. Whatever you experienced a “lack” of in your previous situation, go out and create an intentional abundance of it, and notice the affect it has on you.
Forgiveness is an act of self-love. It is by far one of the healthiest things you could do for yourself. Forgiveness allows you to be fully present. It takes a lot of courage and humility to choose to forgive. But consider it like building a muscle, with practice and time, it gets easier and easier. Whenever you feel provoked, or angered, take a moment and a breath, let there be a little space. Take time to reflect and notice before engaging in any automatic reactions. When you’re ready to speak, remember that forgiveness is an act of self-care. It is always an option.