Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I wish to write about forgiveness with respect to shamanism, Ayurveda, psychological thought and my understanding of life so far. I am not the best at forgiveness, of myself or others. My mother and step father as well as the Catholic Church I was exposed to growing up seemed to emphasize the punitive rather than the dynamic of forgiveness. Rather than experiencing the people in my life growing up losing it on occasion and behaving in way that was less than acceptable, apologizing and making amends so we all could move on, they rationalized their perpetual unacceptable behavior, blamed me for it and continued to be abusive. When I was a child I learned to split off from myself or to dissociate to tolerate this. One part of me seemed to always know they were wrong and there was a better world somewhere. Another part of me absorbed the victim blaming and blamed myself and was self punitive. Yet another part acted tough, pretended none of it was a big deal and joined my parents in their convoluted world of life being a playground for drunk, arrogant exploiters.

Decades of healing have helped with this fragmentation. From therapy I learned to be nicer to myself, forgiving, kind and even tender sometimes. I have learned there is no such thing as perfect, therefore not as much to blame myself for. My inner perfectionist can step aside and not take over because there are other parts of me with more reasonable standards. I have learned from indigenous thinking also to embrace imperfections and that there is a way that human interaction works when we are functional. In this value system we live in harmony with Mother Earth and we create a sense of safety and belonging for one another, encourage people to find out who they are and to master the tasks they need to learn to express who they are. We encourage independence with integrity and practice healthy reciprocity with others. Healthy reciprocity is one of my favorite practices because it means we are aware of the needs of others as well as ourselves and we are committed to practicing fairness.

So I am struggling with forgiving myself for making the same mistakes over and over again. And I am wondering how the elements and my doshas might interact to create healthy forgiveness for myself and others. Trust and safety seem to be my first concern. I didn't really get to grow up with a healthy sense of either and still struggle with both of these things. I feel that vata and the elements of air and space do support me with perspective and breath. When I breathe I can sense the whole picture of myself. Kapha and the elements of earth and water help me mother myself, so I can remember and endorse myself for all the good things I do and have done. I can bring into my consciousness how consistent I am in my work, always learning to enhance my skills, and how I have been a good mother in spite of mistakes I have made and continue to make. I can also make amends to myself by remembering that I have done a good job as an adult in spite of not having real nurturing support growing up, but trauma and abuse instead.

Then I can handle the pitta, the fire. In the fire I can see the issues I still have to work on such as continuing to speak up even though someone I am in an intimate relationship with seems to not want to hear it sometimes. As don Miguel Ruiz would say, I need to not assume anything, especially that I have been heard and understood until I get a real sign that I have been. It was so scary to speak up in my family. I often did it at my own peril. Other people aren't so scary now, especially the people I am choosing to be friends and family with and I am not so small and needy. But I am still asking, what do I do with my needs in a relationship and partnership when they seem to be at odds with the other person's? I only know I can't postpone them without consequence in the reality of my inner environment.

I can also work with the elements to see the whole picture of someone else, even when I am mad (vata) and therefore also see their good. I can express this to them and also be nurturing, enjoying the time with them (kapha). I can also use the fire (pitta) to work through the difficulty, the dynamics that are hurtful and are not working. My solidness, kapha, can help me to hold my ground around my needs as I mother myself while I also pay attention to another. It helps to have range within individual elements as well as embracing all of them consciously. Now I'm off to try this out in the real world...

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