At my Tuesday evening yoga class the teacher has been talking about the different chakras, one each week. We've worked our way through the 3 lower chakras, which have to deal with the external, and this week discussed the heart chakra. The color associated with this place is green, something that makes sense to me as we open our hearts and feel love for the world around us. The heart chakra is the transition to the upper areas, which deal with the internal, our own spiritual growth.
The essence of the heart chakra is love- spiritual love, not the clingy, "i need you", attached sort of love. Love for all living things-- including ourselves! Sometimes that is the most difficult love of all. Unconditional love. We did some heart opening postures and by the end of the class I was feeling so centered, so grounded, and almost had a glimpse of that universal, unconditional love for everyone and everything.
One of the subjects associated with this chakra is forgiveness. Tricky subject, forgiveness. I know I've always associated forgiveness with being able to forget something that happened. According to yogic teachings, it's not about forgetting, which sometimes feels like you are condoning a "wrong" that was done to you. It's about understanding that each person does the best they can with what they are dealing with at any given time. Most often, when someone doesn't give us what we need, or hurts us, it's because they are in pain themselves, or lacking in something, or afraid.
Of course there are always exceptions, but in most cases, others don't intend to hurt us. It just happens that we are not on the same path at that particular point in time. We may need more than they are able to give; or perhaps because of something they are dealing with in their own internal makeup, they are unable to provide what we need. It doesn't make them a bad person or even wrong; it helps to be aware that they have their own issues.
This realization can lead to more compassion for others. Compassion and forgiveness go hand in hand; when we realize that it's not just about us, it becomes much easier to forgive actions that we perceive as "wrongs" against us. Perhaps the person who just cut us off in traffic is late to pick up her children and is worried about them - a position we have probably all been in at one time or another. When we remember how we felt in that situation it's easy to forgive the person. "Sure, go ahead of me, I know just how you feel, your kids are your focus, not driver etiquette!" Certainly, we'd all say that if we knew the person's situation!
Today I'm going to work on unconditional love and forgiveness - seeing things from other people's perspectives instead of just my own - and hopefully this will make me a more grounded and peaceful person.