Whole Life Magazine

April/May 2013

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/118686

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Page 18 of 43

But shenpa is not based in truth. It is an evolutionary mechanism to avoid harm, a psychological defense mechanism to prevent being wronged again. Our individual or egoic lens typically results in a misperception of what actually happened. "The goal of yoga is to clean the lens, be with the actual experience and align fully with truth," says Stewart. "From there, you have choices. From there, you are not the victim. The whole concept of forgiving someone requires that there has to be a perpetrator. Through the yoga lens there is no perpetrator. It was simply a person who acted from fear. It's never personal." Yoga helps us to move out of the state of shenpa and align ourselves with truth and higher consciousness. When we become present through yoga, we see our situations—and our reactions—more objectively, as if we have a bird's-eye view. This clarity creates the space to make a conscious choice: Do I stay in a state of contraction or do I align with truth? When we make a conscious choice to align with higher consciousness, we transform resentment into compassion and gratitude, says Stewart. "We let go of resentment because we realize there is something higher than this contracted state, higher than our egoic consciousness." Compassion lows naturally as we realize that only someone who is hurting inside would behave in a hurtful way. The way spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson explains it, resentment and guilt "block the heart." The energies of resentment and guilt hold us back from living our best lives and reaching our highest potential. She notes that "We are not held back by the love we didn't receive in the past, but by the love we're not extending in the present." Yoga's role here is that it "moves you out of suffering and enables your mind to create and choose a different path that is about wholeness and heal- yoga&spirit ing," says Stewart. "Yoga is about growing your consciousness and aligning with this larger state of awareness." Exploring further as a therapist, Stewart sees that the ego tends to avoid deeper trauma by staying on the surface—blaming others, holding grudges— rather than looking within to igure out what lurks beneath resentment. What hidden trauma is this resentment really about? "The whole concept of forgiving someone requires that there has to be a perpetrator." This avoidance of the truth causes suffering. "The person who is staying hooked on resentment rather than forgiving is avoiding some deeper pain stored in the body," he says. "We need to go into the body, really see the truth of the pain, sit with it with deep compassion, and slowly allow it to [seep] out of the body." Forgiveness does not mean condoning the other person's behavior, nor does it leave you open to have it happen again. You can live with an open heart and have healthy boundaries. The yogic practice of continually choosing to align with your highest self while maintaining healthy boundaries allows you to live in low and stay open to receive all the abundance life has to offer. Yoga_02.indd 19 April/May201319 3/26/13 4:33 PM

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