A Course in Forgiveness by Gerald Crawford

I offer you two day forgiveness course in Cape Town, Johannesburg, New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Chicago, Ontario, ‎Dublin and Auckland. Develop gratitude with grace and change your life with a universal truth.

Namaste – “I bow to the divine in you”.

Namaste is usually spoken with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest. This gesture is called Pranamasana. It means “I bow to the divine in you”.

The literal translation of the word “Namaste” breaks down into three sections. Nama means bow; as means I; and, te means you. Thus, I bow to you. The gesture is one of greeting in India. Most often we hold our hands together in the prayer position at our heart chakra.

Although in the West the word “Namaste” is usually spoken in conjunction with the gesture. In India, it is understood that the gesture itself signifies Namaste, and therefore, it is unnecessary to say the word while bowing. We bring the hands together at the heart chakra to increase the flow of Divine love.

So when they greet you with namaste they are seeking your blessings. You can respond to them by saying “Sukhino Bhava (सुखिनोऽभव)” which means be happy or “I wish you happiness”. This I believe would be the most appropriate response.

Namasté (nah-mah-stay). You hear this word at the end of every yoga class, but do you know what it means?

As in so many traditions in yoga, an opportunity exists to dig deeper into the intention and meaning behind what you say, what you do, and how you move through this world. After all, if you’re truly living “yoga,” you are more focused on the “how” and “why” of your poses than on the outer form.

When you bow your head and say namasté at the end of a yoga practice, you have the chance to do more than simply mark the ending of the session. In fact, a spiritual revelation is on the other side of a truly felt namasté and so, in the spirit of higher learning, take a look at the deeper explanation of this oft-heard, but commonly over-simplified piece of yogic wisdom.

Definition of Namasté
If the spiritual traditions of yoga could be encapsulated in one word, it might be namasté. This Sanskrit word brings about the essence of oneness, and an understanding of the true nature of reality.

At the base level, namasté is a salutation of respect and reverence. A traditional Indian greeting, it literally translates to “I bow to you” (namah or namas, meaning bow, te meaning you).

In India, the gesture of Anjali Mudra (prayer position of the hands) not only accompanies the word, but is synonymous with its meaning. People passing on the street, family members greeting one another, children acknowledging their elders, and strangers meeting for the first time all join their palms together and bow their heads in respect of one another.

How to Perform the Namasté Greeting
Western yogis have adopted the custom of closing their yoga classes with a bow of namasté. On the surface level, it is a way for the teacher and students to thank one another for time well-spent, and to close the sacred container of the yoga practice. The palms and all ten fingers touch one another, with the thumbs joining in front of the heart space or brow. It is common for the teacher to say it first, and the students to repeat it back.

A List of Translations
One of the most common translations of namasté is “The divine light in me bows to the divine light within you.” However, a simple Internet search provides many beautiful meanings and translations of namasté, such as:

  • I honor the place in you where the entire universe dwells.
  • I bow to the place in you that is love, light, and joy.
  • When you and I bow to our true nature, we are one.
  • My soul recognizes your soul.
  • We are the same, we are one.
  • I honor the place in you that is the same as it is in me.

The Spiritual Teaching of Namasté
It is always helpful to find a concise phrase that captures a spiritual teaching. However, there is more to namasté than what can fit on the side of a coffee mug.

Namasté represents the idea that all are one. It affirms that beneath the outer trappings that make you appear different from others, you are made of the same stuff. You are more the same than you are different.

Tantrik philosophy teaches that everything that exists is one Divine consciousness that longs to experience itself in different forms. As a human being, it is in your nature to forget this truth – that every person, thought, feeling, and experience is a perfect expression of the one Divine awareness. When a being does forget (by feeling separate, less than, better than, or identifying with any external, impermanent aspect of being more so than its true nature), it suffers. The teachings say that your spiritual practice is the art and act of simply remembering who you are.

Seeing Others
By saying namasté (and meaning it), you are saying that you see others for what you actually are. It’s an affirmation of the choice to identify with God-consciousness, rather than the ego, which would have you believe that you are somehow superior or inferior to any other being on this planet. It is an active choice to take the spiritual lessons derived from the yoga practice or meditation, and take it into the laboratory of life. What would life be like if you saw others as perfectly whole? What if you saw yourself this way? A namasté between two yogis is a pact made to honor the highest, truest, most authentic parts of themselves, and let their limitations fall away.

In his translation of the 1,000-year-old spiritual text The Recognition Sutras, Tantrik scholar Christopher Wallis describes how this understanding might affect your approach to life:

Once you become aware of the true nature of reality, everything you do becomes an act of reverence. Simply living your ordinary daily life with full awareness becomes a complete practice of meditation, a perfect form of worship, an offering to all beings and to Being itself. Tantra teaches that because there is only One in the universe, all actions are in truth the Divine exploring itself, reverencing itself, worshipping itself.

Sanskrit is a truly magical language because its words represent concepts that don’t have English equivalents. Because no single word in English can summarize the meaning of namasté, the process of unpacking it can be a spiritual quest of the heart. It is one thing to conceptually understand this philosophy, but it is another to feel it in your bones. To know this teaching as a truth is both the aim and the way.

Find a meaning of this salutation that speaks to your heart—to plant that meaning as a seed into your center, that every time you join your palms together, you nourish the seed and savor its nectar.

Namasté.

Exercises to Cultivate Gratitude

When we were young the adults in our lives taught us that we had to use good manners. They said that we should always ask politely and show gratitude when someone does something for us.

How many times have we been told “and what do you say?” And we respond automatically “Thank you!” We need to cultivate gratitude more.

Just like our parents before us, we do the same with our children. We think it’s essential that they show gratitude. But are we grateful on a day to day basis? The reality is we have a lot to be grateful for. Learn to cultivate gratitude and you will feel better!

“Gratitude isn’t just the greatest of virtues. It is related to all of them.”

-Marco Tulio Ciceron-

Cultivate gratitude to improve well-being

Gratitude is a feeling that you have when life (and those who are part of your life) smiles on you. When the little things are going well. Sometimes you might think that gratitude is not that important. But knowing how to use it and maximize it will bring you more positive emotions. That, in turn, will increase your sense of well-being.

When you use gratitude with good measure and it is balanced, you can make the most of it. How? In the first place, I recommend that you make time during the day to think about the person you want to show gratitude for. It could be your partner, your friend, a family member, or someone you spend time with. Then, think about something they did or said that you liked.

“Forget what you have given so you can remember what you have received.”

-Mariano Aguilo-

Once you have in mind what it is you want to express gratitude for, write it in a personalized and concrete message. This will serve as proof of your gratitude and reflect how much you value that person. Write the date as well, and hide it in their things so they find it unexpectedly.

When they open their wallet or grab their socks, they will discover a lovely surprise. It will make them feel the same thing you felt when you wrote it – gratitude! If you do this once a week, imagine the effect it could have. Also, you don’t necessarily have to do it with a paper and pen. If we take into account all the new technology and ways to leave a message, the potential to cultivate gratitude multiplies.

Balanced gratitude – not too much or too little

Now you know how to cultivate gratitude and make the most of it. But, is it possible to use gratitude too little or too much? How can you balance it? If you are underutilizing it, the first step is to feel grateful to yourself. Gratitude, after all, begins with you.

“A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.”

-Henry Ward Beecher-

To do this, you should start each day by pampering yourself. Get up 10 minutes earlier than usual and listen to your body. It is always communicating its needs to you, but you have to pay attention to understand them. So, check your facial expression, your skin, and your body in general.

Once you’ve observed what you need, enjoy a few moments of self-care in the shower. Give yourself a massage with a washcloth, and be aware of the pleasant sensations you feel. If your skin is dry, give yourself a massage with moisturizing lotion. That way you can cultivate good feelings on each centimeter of your skin.

Just say “no” to overused gratitude

Why is excessive gratitude bad? It’s very simple – it might give people the impression that you aren’t being sincere. This can negatively affect your relationships. That’s why it’s so important to know how to use it with the right person at the right time. Expressing gratitude requires intelligence.

To achieve this, you can keep track of gratitude throughout the week. Write down when you say thank you, and how other people react to your gratitude. Once the week is over, you can see if someone communicated to you that it wasn’t necessary to say thank you so much.

Or it’s possible that other people won’t react at all because we are expressing our gratitude too frequently. The alternative is to look for different ways to be grateful.

That way you can make sure that gratitude has a positive impact on you, the other person, and your relationship… Practice these simple exercises to balance and cultivate gratitude!

Forgiving Means Letting Go of Your Resentment

Forgiving means a lot more than the simple act of saying “I forgive you.” It is much more than resuming a lost relationship. It means even more than forgetting the action that caused us sorrow at some point in our lives.

When we truly forgive someone, we make peace with our own ego. We feel fulfilled, at ease and free, because resentment has disappeared forever.

Sincerely forgiving someone who has harmed you is one of the most difficult things a person can do. Forgiveness requires great emotional strength and bravery that not many possess.

When we have been hurt, be it physically or emotionally, we go into a state of rage. Anger can be a useful emotion if we want to defend ourselves from a threat. Yet, it is meaningless when the threat is no longer present.
Prolonged anger poisons us slowly. It fills us with rage and hatred, a thirst for vengeance, which are all completely useless negative emotions. They will not erase the past and also serve no purpose in the present or future.

Forgiving in a rational way

In order to free ourselves of negative emotions, such as rage, we can use the power of our thoughts and ideas. This way, we take control of our mind. Thus, we rip the control of our mind away from these emotions. Thinking in a rational manner implies not letting yourself get carried away by impulses, by our imagination. It means not exaggerating or dramatizing the facts and, above all, abandoning the so-called “you should have“s.

When we are being guided by our rage, we are assuming that other people should have behaved in a certain way. Thus, we aren’t capable of forgiving them sincerely.

The truth is that everyone is free to behave according to their own criteria, not our own, whether we like it or not. Accepting this reality and being able to bear it without too much negativity will allow us to finally forgive those who have hurt us.

Therefore, in order to free ourselves of this heavy feeling of resentment, vengeance or sadness, we should keep in mind that no one is perfect. Not the people who have hurt us, nor us. It is natural for humans to make mistakes, to become confused, to behave in a visceral manner. That’s why our emotional side comes from the most primitive part of our brain.

Although the damage affects us, rage wont change this fact. We’ll only end up with two problems. First, the damage suffered due to the other person’s actions. Secondly, the rage that we impose on ourselves, which just generates even more pain.

Another rational thought that may help us is the idea that nobody can make us suffer without our consent. This may sound weird but, it’s the truth. If you know who you are, you have a balanced self-esteem and a good head on your shoulders, it’ll be impossible for someone to harm you. At least not through words or deeds that don’t involve physical harm.

An insult can only harm me if I tell myself that that person shouldn’t ever insult me. Or, on the other hand, if I “buy” that person’s insult. If I end up believing the insult and accepting it as my own. That’s when I’m opening the door to that which causes me pain.

You may think that this an extremely hard thing to achieve, and you would be right to think that way. Nobody teaches us how to think this way. Instead, they teach us how to protect our dignity with all of our strengths, to make our ego shine as if each one of us were the most important being on the planet.

In the end, this will work against us, because we are the ones who suffer on an emotional level. And, if we stop and think about it, we’ll see that it’s not worth it at all, because we will never obtain anything from it. The anger towards the other person never has any practical use.

How can I know if I have truly forgiven?

Although forgiving is a truly difficult act that requires a great deal of bravery, we can all do it. The rational thoughts that we described previously are only the beginning, but it doesn’t stop there. In order to forgive, one needs to grow and connect with the things we tell ourselves.

You have been able to forgive if you feel within you each one or at least one of these points:

  • You don’t think that the other person is a bad person. To you, they are simply confused. You know that human beings are good by nature. They want to cooperate and not compete, but these societies, as artificial as they are, they teach us other things. And this may confuse us. Everyone can fail at some point in their life, because this is the normal order of things. When you are capable of acknowledging this, you have definitely forgiven the other person. Also, that has now eliminated the negative emotion.
  • You have accepted what the other person did. You tolerate, accept and are aware that life is not perfect and that people are even less perfect. Therefore, you must accept that there are situations, actions, facts that are not going to be of your liking. In fact, they may even go against what you believe in. This is a part of life, and if we see it and feel it as such, it will not cause as much harm. It is unpleasant when everything doesn’t go the way we want it to, but it is not the end of the world.
  • You don’t feel anger or rage when you see the other person. Instead, you would like to help them or wish them good luck in life.
  • If your feelings are more about compassion than about rage, then you have managed to forgive for good. You only wish that person the best. You truly want them to have a good life and for them to fix their behavior. In fact, you consider it’s nothing more than a sign of the misfortune they are surely carrying on their shoulders.

Forgiving is not an easy mental task. Oftentimes it emerges as a form of your triumph in a hard battle against negative emotions. However, by doing so, you will be the first one to be benefited.

Now you can stop suffering mentally over something that already happened. By doing so, you are letting go of useless weight that we all carry around for no good reason.

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I offer you two day forgiveness course in Cape Town, Johannesburg, New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Chicago, Ontario, ‎Dublin and Auckland.