By TARA MANIAR
With so many forms of violence so prevalent in the world, I am reminded of my spiritual master Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji’s teaching: “Forgive, forget and move forward. This is the only way. It is not enough to forgive and forget. One must also move on.”
How do we forgive those who have violated us? How do we forgive ourselves for hurting those we love? How do we forget and let go of these incidents of violence that have caused us so much hurt, pain, shame, guilt, anger and more? Pujya Swamiji said it is only when we forgive and let go that we can truly move forward. Until such time, those incidents of violence continue to hold power over us.
All of us have been hurt by others or hurt another person with our own words or actions. Usually we do not intend to hurt another; however, in our desire to feel special or important, or to be right, we cause harm. Forgiveness is for our own peace of mind. It is only when we have peace within that we can share peace with others or become a torchbearer of peace to make a positive difference in the world around us.
Before we can forgive, forget and move forward, we must practise acceptance. Sometimes we do not want to forgive because we feel that if we forgive it means that we condone the actions of the one who violated us. No! We do not condone the actions, but we need to accept that the incident happened. It is only when we accept that the incident occurred that we can move towards forgiveness to begin the process of healing, rebuilding our confidence and inner strength.
As we embark on the process of forgiveness, there is a part of us that resists, for we feel that if we hang on to the hurt, anger and other distress, we are punishing the one who hurt us. No! We are punishing ourselves while continuing to give power to the one who hurt us. We are allowing the past incident to have an impact on our present decision and rob us of our peace and happiness, eroding our self-esteem and inner strength.
There is also a part of us seeking forgiveness because we want to let go of the hurt, anger, humiliation and all the rest of it. We have that inner wisdom that forgiving the perpetrator is the only way to move forward towards peace and happiness; however, we are conflicted and unsure how to forgive, let go and move forward.
We need to begin to acknowledge all these different and conflicting parts within us. Allow them to get to know each other by listening to each part without judgment. We can use meditation, focusing, coaching, counselling and other strategies to explore the different faces of forgiveness.
A good test I use to know if I have genuinely forgiven is checking my emotions when I think about the incident or the person I have hurt or the person who has hurt me. When you can think of that event without anger, hurt, shame, guilt or other negative feelings, you know you are in the process of forgiveness. When you can send love to the incident and/or the persons involved, you know that you have indeed forgiven. And that includes you!
Mahatma Gandhi-Ji said: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” It is easy to hang on to the evil of the incidents that hurt us, allowing that evil to erode our inner strength and self-esteem. We have identified ourselves with being the victim. It gives us excuses to not step up and move forward. It is easier to remain the victim than to do the work necessary to forgive, let go and move forward.
It takes strength to move forward or see a positive energy and the goodness in ourselves and in others, especially when the incidents have led to hurt feelings and pain. We are afraid to see anything positive from that event that so violated us. However, when we accept that the incident happened, we can then choose to focus on building the inner strength to be our best, despite the violent conflict. This is one moment in time. Do not let it steal the best that you are. When you choose to continue to live from your best self, you are refusing to give power to the one who hurt you.
Let us build the inner strength, the confidence and self-esteem to discover your best self. To begin the process to create that inner strength to know the truth of who you are, invest time to connect with yourself each day. This can be done by paying attention to your breath for five minutes each morning or by praying, exercising, walking, dancing or listening in silence to music that uplifts you.
As you connect with yourself each day, you begin to discover your different sides and qualities. Over time, you will discover that you are connected to universal joy and love. You discover that unconditional love for self and others is the only way to forgive, let go and move forward towards a life of deep connection, peace and harmony. You realize that you are joy, peace and love!
Tara Maniar is a teacher and practitioner of traditional yoga, a certified Chakaradance™ Facilitator and a spiritual life coach. Tara empowers strong women to transform their inner turmoil into enlightened possibilities. She strives to live in humble service to humanity and Guruji. Visit her online at taramaniar.com.