The last sentence of my previous post got me to thinking about forgiveness, and how I often find myself relatively incapable of it, both when it comes to myself and those who might have hurt me or the people I love. In short, I hold a mean grudge, despite knowing it really isn’t a good thing for both my physical and mental health. We learn about forgiveness so many different facets of life; religion, parents, school and books. It is the subject and moral of many a fairy tale, but in general, it seems to evade me.
My family jokes that I hold a grudge for years, often referring to my elephant-like memory as the main cause for this affliction. I remember offences against me as early as when I was five when I fell off the swing and my neighbour, Herman, laughed for weeks whenever he saw me. When I think of it now, the same anger burns inside me as it did way back then, as though it was still happening and not a reel of a memory, playing in my head. Yes, the grudge I hold against poor little Herman continues, despite my reasonable adult self knowing that this isn’t the most realistic pursuit.
I often try to let these issues go when I enter a yoga studio or sit myself on my mat at home, when regular life doesn’t necessarily allow me the time (or at least, that’s what I seem to tell myself). Those few minutes of focused meditation before each class are important to me, as I am often inundated with my own thoughts of anxiety and anger over transgressions that aren’t really transgressions at all, but my own insecurities, bubbling up into the forefront of my brain. By far, my worst offence is my lack of ability to forgive myself, not others; a topic I’ve mentioned briefly in a few other posts. I mentally punish myself for my physical limitations that prevent me from moving deeper into certain poses. I berate my writing skills now that Grave’s disease has affected my ability to concentrate and write effortlessly, the way I did once.
But when I really think about it, what I’m doing is mourning a past version of myself…a girl who ran faster and exercised harder and wrote more prolifically and more often. But I am someone new now, and she’s not so bad. I may have to concentrate more in order to write, but I work harder at it now, and there’s something to be said for that. I may not be as fast or as fit as I used to be, but I also spent more time with weights than I ever did with my yoga practice, which wouldn’t be so bad if I had taken at least some time for reflection at other points during the day. In some ways, I see myself as damaged, but I’m also so much more developed in so many other aspects of life.
Forgiving ourselves for what we see as limitations or mistakes is no easy feat. I know that for me, my time practicing yoga is the time of day at which I allow myself look at those issues as stepping stones instead of failures or mistakes. Each step is en route to making me who I am, and so how can I apologize for that? I encourage all of you to look into yourself and all the things that you think you may have done wrong, and for a moment, consider the direction life might have gone had you made another decision or chosen a different path. We have no way of knowing who we might turn out to be, but if we can appreciate the building blocks along the way, life will be a whole lot easier and endlessly less stressful. Forgive yourself and quickly, forgiveness for others will follow suit.