“People have to forgive. We don't have to like them, we don't have to be friends with them, we don't have to send them hearts in text messages, but we have to forgive them, to overlook, to forget. Because if we don't we are tying rocks to our feet, too much for our wings to carry!” ― C. JoyBell C.
Now that the book is published, I have time to get back to my reflective practices. I notice that since I have not been practicing regularly, I am quick to become irritated by situations that would normally not bother me. I think it has something to do with the fact that I just poured my soul into a book that is now out there for the whole world to see. My sleeping and eating patterns have been erratic, and I have felt fatigued. My body has been aching, and I know that it is telling me to get back into my movement practices.
This morning, I woke up early, and the first thing I did was get on my yoga mat. I literally crawled onto it and collapsed. I just laid there. After about 10 minutes of reverse savasana, I pushed myself up into child's pose. It felt so good. I found the rhythm of my breath and let it relax me deeper into the pose. After about 15 deep breaths, I moved into cat/cow and stretched my spine. The pops and cracks seemed to be saying "thank you".
I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. As I slowly made my way through my sun salutations this morning, my body was forgiving me with every stretch and every breath. I began to feel better. I returned to savasana after my practice, and as I felt my body release into the mat, I smiled. I'm back.
My body forgives. After celebrating my birthday for an entire month last summer, I had a lot to ask my body to forgive. I remember going for a run the day after my last birthday celebration. I had not run for over two weeks, and I thought it was going to be awful. I thought I would be back at the starting point.
I started down the street, and I noticed that my body felt OK. Actually, not just OK. I felt pretty good. My feet felt light, and it didn't seem to take as much effort as I thought it would. Before I knew it, my 1.5 mile run turned into 1.77 miles, and more importantly, I was enjoying it. My body remembered how good it felt when I ran nearly every day, and it responded by forgiving me so that I could enjoy running again.
My heart forgives. In my exploration of compassion, I have made conscious choices to forgive the emotional lashings that my heart has endured. My practice of compassion started with myself. I am my toughest critic, and I discovered through my mindfulness practices that I can be downright nasty to myself sometimes.
I have been fortunate to experience blissful episodes of loving exchange. When those relationships ended, there was always a feeling of loss, and the question of what went wrong pops into my head. When I can step back and see the bigger picture, I realize that nothing went wrong. Everything happened just as it was supposed to.
“True forgiveness is when you can say, "Thank you for that experience.” ― Oprah Winfrey
We are meant to experience loss and heartache. That's what makes us human. That's what makes us all more similar than we are different. Everyone knows what heartache feels like. When that familiar ache starts in my chest, I whisper the words my meditation teacher taught me, "Darling, it's OK to feel sad. It's OK to feel loss. It's OK to grieve. That just means that the experience meant something to you. Remember, I love you." And then I forgive myself and move on.
My mind wants to forgive. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that I want my mind to forgive. This is where my mindfulness practices really come in handy. I am constantly in my head. Without regular yoga, Nia, or meditation, my thoughts can easily take over and make my life miserable.
It's easy to say I forgive others for their words or actions that I take personally, but I know that it's not really they who have caused my suffering. I have chosen to take things personally, and therefore become angry or hurt.
One of my favorite books is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book was introduced to me in 2007 during my Nia White Belt Intensive. I have tried to actively incorporate the teachings of The Four Agreements into my practice and my daily life since then.
Here are the Four Agreements, in a nutshell:
1. Be Impeccable With Your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don't Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don't Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
I began my personal forgiveness practice on April 1st as a gift to myself. The practice consists of me sending a kind word to myself every time I prepare to eat my evening meal. I've decided to serve up compassion and forgiveness as the first course of every dinner. I do this for me. It's a silent practice that only takes a second. It's a reminder, a prayer, a mantra, a gift. No one knows that I'm doing it, until now anyway.
“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward." -- Steve Maraboli
Since incorporating this simple practice into my daily life, I have not been as hard on myself. I've found it easier to let go of the little annoyances that creep into my space. I let go of thoughts that are full of shoulds. I invite you to give this practice a try, and see what happens in your own life.
Feel free to leave a comment below or email me at bodymindjoy.com.