How yoga and meditation can lead to forgiveness


Two fairly major happenings in my life, all roads leading in the same direction. Firstly I have started yoga teacher training. Secondly, I’ve just spent a week in Uruguay/Jose Ignacio on yoga retreat. 

Suffice to say I have spent a great deal of time creating some space in my mind through detaching. I'm finding the more I invest myself into yoga, the easier it is becoming to gain clarity. In particular, this past week, we spent 5 hours per day in the yoga room.  The first 30-35 minutes each day were spent in meditation. Then we generally did a vinyasa class that would last up to 2.5 hours - including 30 minutes in savasana. After some beach time, we would reconvene for another 2 hours of restorative or yin yoga. Again including 30 minutes of savasana.

Five hours a day for 7 days is 35 hours. It’s fair to say, this is the most time I have ever spent alone with my thoughts (and without - in admittedly fleeting moments). Sometimes it was hard, frustrating even. Other times I did not want to return to the real world. Now that I am on my way back to NY, I can feel the benefits way more clearly than I could when I was "in it".

Our meditations were led and that really helped identify areas I need to work on. The biggest being forgiveness. I realized that I continue to hold on to resentments, despite the ongoing work I do to release them and let go. This runs deep with me, starting early in my childhood, and replaying in recent times, as if I need to keep learning the same lessons. Last year in particular, I was deeply hurt by a man who in many ways reminds me of my father. They both came up strongly as people I need to forgive.

But, they weren't the main act. No, it seems when it comes to forgiveness, I need to start even closer to home. With myself. Actually, with my body to be more precise. Even typing this is not an easy thing for me. My body has betrayed me beyond measure in the past five years. Yes I can appreciate that using the word betray means I am nowhere near done. 

Reading the Yoga Sutra’s for yoga teacher training while away was good timing. From a yogic POV, your body is just a vessel.  Your soul the only real you. Experiences outside of your soul, are just that, experiences. Opportunities to learn.  Opportunities to detach. I couldn’t be more glad that I'm doing this training, it’s clearly life enriching, more than I realized. On the last night of retreat, our teacher walked us to the beach in silent meditation, where we were to set an intention and release a flower into the ocean.  I actually set two. The first one, to write a book to help other women with challenges similar to my own. The second to forgive my body. They are actually the same thing. There were tears, but it was a special kind of watershed moment for me.

Whilst this post is about my own journey, I hope there’s something here for you too. In particular, I want to remind you to create some space for yourself, your soul self.  To invite clear thinking in. Meditating is one way to achieve this and definitely a practice I plan to incorporate more of into my life. For the near future, I will be meditating on forgiveness. 

Meditating can be pretty challenging for the uninitiated, but there’s plenty of help to be found on the interwebs. I have the headspace app which I recommend as a great starting tool. There’s also an Australian guy called Charlie Knowles, you can buy his courses on line. Gabby Bernstein is another great resource. Finally, Heather actually recorded her mediations on the retreat this week which are free to access on Sound Cloud. Click on the names in this paragraph for links to their materials.

Throughout life we all hold on to negativity at times. I'm talking here of the 'how could you do this to me' type of thing. Whether you need to forgive somebody else, yourself or your body like me, doing incredibly important for your well being. In fact the act of forgiveness is like inviting in a great tidal wave of inner peace. It also creates more space for positive emotions like love and joy. 

As for me, well I intend to start working on that book. Not sure where I will find the time to write between work, blogging and yoga teacher training but as I said in a recent post, sometimes, the most important thing you can do is JUST START. Momentum is in the offing if you do. Oh and don’t forget to look for signs you are doing the right thing along the way.

On that. Last night as I passed time before falling asleep on the plane I checked out what books I had on my tablet. The first one that came up was the War of Art. As I read the intro I felt the need to pinch myself it was so on point with all of the above. For any ideas people out there (which is all of us), I highly recommend it.