FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness is associated with letting things go. Not necessarily removing or forgetting about a past hurt but for an ideal life and good health it is generally better to forgive and forgetrather than holding grudges and resentment. Forgiveness is not only linked with others rather, often it is not being able to forgive yourself for a past mistake. Sometimes it is not possible for one to forgive one’s self. One can apply the Patanjali Sutras and the 8 limbs of yoga that is, let go and surrender.  You might not believe this but practicing yoga makes you a master in forgiveness either consciously or unconsciously. At our yoga studio, at Bend it like Buddha we teach people the gesture of forgiveness through the act of exhaling for example. We consider that when you let the things go through exhalation, there is an inspiration waiting for you. That moment in the present moment, pulling in relief and practicing forgiveness through the breath.


A question here can be raised; how can you forgive someone who has hurt you? Consider not confusing forgiveness with acceptance. Different scientific studies have been conducted that have proved that forgiveness is an act that is linked with our brain; however, it is also important to act with all your heart. Yoga helps you to establish ourselves making a contact with the peace and harmony thus strengthening the quality and power of lives. The power of forgiveness will let you move through different circumstances of your life more peacefully. 

The researchers have explained forgiveness being associated with both internal and external elements. These internal and external elements are the behavioural and emotional elements and have further emphasised that forgiveness often involve both public and private aspects of forgiveness. There, however, are only a few types of research that have studied the public and private aspects of forgiveness. McCullough, Worthington and Rachal (1997) have stated that people deal with injustice in many different ways; they might not decide to forgive or to change their emotions. Not forgiving or responding in resentment, bitterness or retaliation leads towards affecting the physical, mental, social as well as physical health in a negative manner. The researches, in this regard, have suggested that forgiveness can benefit the health in more positive ways.

Another study was conducted by a psychologist, Charlotte van Oyen Witvliet. The people were asked to think about someone who has either mistreated or hurt them in any way after which their blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension is monitored. An increase in heart rate and blood pressure has been observed while the research participants recall these unpleasant incidents. These participants were then asked to imagine forgiving their offenders and while practicing forgiveness, their stress level is observed to be decreased (Witvliet et al., 2001). 

There are some people who have considered forgiveness as emotions while the others as behaviour. Forgiveness does not require exposing oneself to the same situation again and again and most often the people also see a link between forgiveness and forgetting. Usually, when yoga is taught, an intention to let go is put into the process. It is definitely not an easy process to let something go. While practicing yoga asana, meditation and pranayama are most commonly preferred, however, it does require a reasonable time and daily practice to see and feel the results. 

Forgiveness is a decision; it is a daily practice much like yoga and meditation. This practice helps with releasing emotions thus shifting the mind towards a more pure, positive state. For some people, forgiveness is emotional not logical as it does not always make sense and not an orderly process.

How to Forgive?

The first stage is simply becoming aware of the need to forgive. Allow you to feel free and experience the full force of emotions. Express the emotions through journaling, counselling or even punching a pillow and screaming without bothering others. This may be difficult but once you go through this stage, you will definitely feel more relaxed as you will accept the situation by letting go the resistance and difficult emotions. Acceptance is the first step to improvement and when you accept how you feel about a situation and how it has impacted your life, you will find yourself releasing the grudge. On this path of forgiveness, meditation will be your invaluable aid. The stages of forgiveness, as stated above, will guide you while practicing forgiveness during meditation, pranayama and yoga. Asking for wisdom and guidance from your higher self will also provide patience and strength of going through the phase. Forgiveness will help create more space in the body to bring in more positive experiences and experience life with more ease.

References

  • McCullough, M.E., Worthington, E.L., Jr., and Rachal, K.C. (1997). Interpersonal forgiving in close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 321-336.

  • Witvliet, C.V.O., Ludwig, T. E., and Vander Laan, K. L. (2001). Granting forgiveness of harboring grudges: Implications for emotion, physiology, and health. Psychological Science,12, 117-123.

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