"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." – Mark Twain
Life is a tapestry of unexpected turns, a dance between harmony and discord. Lately, I've encountered such complexities that have served as a crucible for my emotional resilience and spiritual growth. But what if the power to transmute these moments—from chaos to clarity, from hurt to healing—resides within us all? To guide you on this transformative journey, this blog post delves into the art of forgiveness and loving-kindness. Here, you'll discover effective strategies for elevating your mental and emotional state, especially when entangled in misunderstandings or conflicts.
To further enrich your journey, I've also included an interactive PDF worksheet and journal towards the end of this blog. This resource is designed to offer you a structured yet reflective space to dig deeper into these concepts, providing actionable steps and contemplative prompts for each topic discussed. And don't miss the guided Loving Kindness Meditation video, a harmonious capstone to our exploration of these timeless principles.
For an optimal experience, I suggest reading this blog through your browser, particularly if you're one of my cherished subscribers.
With an open heart and spirit,
The Meaning and Importance of Forgiveness
"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." ~ Lewis B. Smedes
Forgiveness is a term we often hear but may not fully understand, especially when we're in the heat of emotional pain, betrayal, or disappointment. The instinct to hold onto hurt is a natural one; it's as if our mind is trying to protect us by saying, "Remember this so it won't happen again." However, that protective instinct often does more harm than good. Before we delve into the intricacies of what forgiveness is and why it's so crucial, let's dispel some common myths.
Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting or excusing the harm done to you; it means releasing the emotional burden that comes with resentment and anger. Holding onto these emotions serves as a constant drain on your mental and emotional resources.
So, what do we stand to gain when we choose the path of forgiveness? Let's explore some compelling reasons:
In summary, forgiveness isn't about giving a free pass to those who've wronged us; it's about freeing ourselves. The act of forgiving is like dropping a heavy bag you've been carrying around; it provides you with a sense of relief and paves the way for inner peace, better health, and empowerment. If you find yourself resistant to forgiveness, remember that you're doing it for you, not for the person who wronged you. The act of forgiving is a self-loving choice that lets you reclaim your power and move forward with a lighter heart.
The Foundation: Practicing Self-Compassion
"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." ~ Buddha
Our journey begins with the indispensable practice of self-compassion, a cornerstone for extending loving kindness towards others. Just as a gardener painstakingly nurtures the soil to yield vibrant blooms, so too must we cultivate self-compassion to nourish love and kindness within our own hearts.
Imagine a friend facing a challenging phase in their life. Naturally, you offer a comforting shoulder, empathetic ear, and uplifting words. The essence of self-compassion lies in affording ourselves that same level of care and understanding when we face life's inevitable ups and downs.
However, the application of self-compassion is often easier said than done. Just yesterday, I found myself entrapped in a cycle of negative self-talk. Thoughts like, "Why did you even get involved?" seemed to undermine my genuine enthusiasm, as if my eagerness held no merit. But upon reflection, I realized that such self-criticism serves no constructive purpose.
As we've explored the essence of self-compassion and its undeniable impact on our emotional well-being, you may be wondering how to manifest this understanding into your day-to-day life. Well, the journey from conceptual understanding to practical application can often be bridged with some simple yet transformative steps. Allow me to share some strategies that have been game-changers for me and could serve as practical building blocks for you as well.
Practical Steps for Cultivating Self-Compassion
By consciously incorporating these practices into your daily life, you begin to disrupt the cycle of self-neglect, paving the way for a more harmonious existence, devoid of unnecessary turmoil and negativity.
Handling Misunderstandings and Negative Energy
"Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace." ~ Dalai Lama
In a world rife with misunderstandings and unexpected negative energy, knowing how to manage your emotional landscape is crucial for maintaining balance and well-being. When I talk about 'managing your emotional landscape,' I'm referring to two main areas: Thought Management and Energy Management.
Thought Management involves becoming aware of your thought patterns and how they contribute to your emotional state. On the flip side, Energy Management is about controlling the invisible yet palpable energy that influences your interactions with others and your own well-being.
In the interest of supporting your journey toward emotional wellness, I've created an interactive PDF worksheet and journal designed to complement this section. This resource offers targeted prompts and exercises that assist you in taking actionable steps towards better emotional self-care. I encourage you to download it as you read along—doing the exercises will significantly enhance your experience and understanding of the material presented.
Techniques for Thought Management:
To sum it all up, mastering your emotional and mental state is well within your grasp. Simple yet potent techniques such as recognizing triggers, pausing to breathe, and questioning your thoughts can provide immense relief. To truly empower yourself, also consider grounding exercises and activities that promote emotional release. Remember, you are not a passive spectator to your life—you have the agency to influence your emotional and mental well-being.
⭐️ How do you manage negative energy and misunderstandings in your own life? Share your techniques or experiences in the comments below. And don't forget to check out the interactive PDF worksheet and journal to deepen your understanding and practice.
⭐️ *For my cherished subscribers viewing this blog in their email, I recommend opening the email in your browser. This will enable you to access both the Loving Kindness Meditation video and thePDF worksheet/journal seamlessly.
Practical Steps for Implementing These Practices
"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." ~ Lao Tzu
Understanding the concepts of forgiveness and loving-kindness is just the beginning. To fully experience their transformative power, we need to integrate them into our daily lives. The proverbial saying, "Knowing is not enough; we must apply," couldn't be truer here. Inspired by the wisdom of Lao Tzu, who emphasizes that kindness in different facets of life brings about profound changes, let's explore some actionable steps you can take to make these practices a part of your everyday routine.
In a nutshell, making forgiveness and loving-kindness an integral part of your life doesn't have to be complex or overwhelming. Even the simplest actions like setting up daily reminders, creating a conducive environment for reflection, or seeking support from trusted individuals can make a substantial impact. Remember, as Lao Tzu so eloquently puts it, kindness in its various forms can bring about confidence, depth, and love in our lives. All it takes is a few consistent, practical steps to unlock these benefits.
A Guided Loving Kindness Meditation
Practical application is essential for fully embracing and integrating the principles I've discussed in this blog. That's why I'm thrilled to offer you an invaluable resource for your self-discovery and emotional growth: a guided Loving Kindness Meditation video. This meditation aims to serve as a nurturing foundation, enriching your compassion and kindness toward yourself and others.
For my cherished subscribers viewing this blog in their email, I recommend opening the email in your browser. This will enable you to access both the Loving Kindness Meditation video and the PDF worksheet/journal seamlessly.
By participating in this guided meditation, you'll be empowering yourself to not only understand but also actively practice the art of forgiveness, loving-kindness, and emotional self-care. While this video offers a wonderful starting point, don't forget that I've also created an interactive PDF worksheet and journal, which you'll find in the section on 'Handling Misunderstandings and Negative Energy.' These resources collectively offer a comprehensive toolkit for emotional well-being, ensuring you're well-equipped for any emotional challenges that may come your way.
Conclusion: The Road Ahead
"It's not about perfect. It's about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that's where transformation happens. That's how change occurs." ~ Jillian Michaels
In recent days, I found myself navigating a labyrinth of emotionally charged conversations with another parent—or rather, a couple. These interactions left an imprint, filling me with a tumultuous blend of feelings: misunderstood, conspicuously frustrated, and deeply unsettled. Despite devoting myself to a structured yoga practice and an intensely focused session of Nadi Shodhana pranayama—both integral components of our ongoing Kriya Yoga Journey—the sticky emotional residue from these confrontations clung to me like stubborn ivy on an ancient wall. Even the tranquility of a concluding Savasana failed to shake them off.
Amid this inner whirlpool, I turned my thoughts to the age-old practice of Loving Kindness meditation. Could it serve as my emotional balm? Did this couple, who had unwittingly triggered my emotional chaos, even warrant my loving kindness? As I wrestled with my own resistance and internal tension, I sank into the soothing folds of the meditation. First, I showered love upon myself, followed by my loved ones, and eventually broadened the circle to include the world at large—and yes, even this couple. Whether they sensed this goodwill, I can't be sure, but I choose to believe in its impact.
By the meditation's end, something extraordinary happened. The weight of resentment and frustration lifted, as though a fog had finally cleared. I felt reconnected to the fundamental essence of who I am, aligned with the universe's intricate web of interconnectedness. Unexpectedly, a sense of gratitude crept in, thanking these individuals for the unintentional lessons they had bestowed. Their words and actions became a mirror, reflecting my own imperfections and reaffirming my place within the greater cosmic mosaic.
As we venture further into the transformative realms of forgiveness and loving kindness, let's heed Rumi's timeless wisdom: 'Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth.' Through the alchemy of forgiveness, compassion, and deep-rooted empathy, we become the authors of our own healing narrative. Consider this a heartfelt invitation to nurture these virtues within ourselves, allowing their radiant essence to extend outward, influencing all who cross our paths.
~ With Love, Ashley
Your Support Matters
Dear readers, if you've found value in this article, I invite you to join the conversation. Share your thoughts, experiences, or questions in the comments below; your insights could make a difference in someone else's journey.
Additionally, if you appreciate my efforts to provide an ad-free reading experience, please consider making a donation. Your generosity enables me to continue creating quality content that enriches lives.
Your support doesn't just help me; it fosters a community committed to growth, forgiveness, and loving-kindness. Thank you for being a part of this journey with me.
With Gratitude ~ Ashley
When my daughter Isabella was born late last year, I spent almost every single moment carrying her in my arms. Lifting her. Setting her down. Holding her. Giving her alllll my love. That of course, hasn't changed. However, as a result of all that original activity and because I was unaware of the excess weight I was putting onto my thumbs and the tendons that help them to function, I ended up with a relentless injury called De Quervain's tendinosis, which has yet to heal to this day (she's ten 1/2 months old).
As a result of this injury, I have had to discontinue my advanced power yoga practice as well as my other interest -- Muay Thai -- which means no more handstands, jump backs, side planks, punching bags... things like that. At first, I felt depressed at the state my body was in. Although I understood that I needed to be patient with my body as it recovered from having made and delivered a baby girl, I was depressed and frustrated that I wasn't able to care for my body the way I was used to caring for it - via hardcore daily Yoga and Muay Thai. I also wasn't able to care for my family the way I truly wanted to - I felt like an invalid. In the mornings I would wake to find my hands stiff and in pain. By the end of the day, after cleaning and cooking, caring for Isabella, etc... I could hardly move them. Mentally, I thought that I had no more energy to give to a yoga practice. I also found that my ego disliked the idea of doing any yoga practice that wasn't the usual intense, cardio-activating practice I was accustomed. It was a negative spiral for a while.
Finally though, and only after my first 8-hour sleep in months 6 months haha, I went to my mat with discipline and an internal mantra/repetitive thought:
It doesn't matter that I can't do push-ups right now. It doesn't matter that my body no longer feels as limber. I am going to start moving now and I will figure this out.
In the absence of the norm, I found myself becoming more creative with my yoga flows. I became acquainted with new poses, old poses, different parts of my body and especially my breath and thought patterns. I created yoga practices for myself which did not need to include my hands on the floor. I started "teaching in my mind" as if I were teaching other students who happened to have the same type of injury as myself - hands, wrists, or otherwise. As a result, I began to heal. Not only my hands (which are getting there with the help of a therapist) but my mind and soul too.
I realize now that I was being harsh with myself, literally inflexible and unbending. I was so used to a certain "Ashley" and certain "Yoga style" that I had been unwilling to accept my limitations, body, or self. How sad is that? How much time, I wonder, did I waste not practicing yoga simply because I couldn't do what I wanted? How silly!?
After meditating and reflecting on it all, I've forgiven myself and I am now ready to finally share what I have learned from this whole experience. And here it is:
Beginner's Yoga is just as amazing as Advanced Yoga because Yoga is about learning to accept the present limits of your current body - to embrace, move in it, grow with it, love it.
So, when and if you decide to begin a Yoga practice, whether you are advanced or new to Yoga, the key is to accept and love your body and your practice, no matter what it looks like or feels like. ❤ ~ Ashley
I WANT TO SHARE with you here a few resources that I have either recently come across or have been an avid user/follower of now for years. For example, meet Laruga Glaser! She is a beautiful, talented, and super-flexible/inspirational yogini. Was she born that way? I don't know. What I do know is that she has been a yogini for many, many years. Which means, that her beautiful practice is a complete and total result of what? HER PRACTICE. It's hers. Not yours. Not mine. Hers. And yet, although I will probably never be able to do all the poses that she does, no matter how much effort and energy I put into my practice, I can still admire her. I can still try to emulate her in my own ways, in my own practice - by practicing often and with discipline. And so can you!
The following video is of Laruga teaching Ashtanga Yoga. For more about Ashtanga yoga, consider reading one of my previous blogs such as "What is Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga". However, for now, consider watching the flow for at least the first 10-15 minutes. It may seem repetitive - because it is. That is one of the defining factors of Ashtanga Yoga. Within those repetition, your mind is given an opportunity to stop jumping from one thing to another - your practice becomes a moving meditation.
Purple Valley Ashtanga Yoga. (2018, March 19). Led Primary Series with Laruga Glaser. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SefpsUfI7y4&t=384s
I PRACTICED with the above video yesterday while Isabella was playing with a Tibetan singing bowl next to me (video below). :) Even though I have studied at the K.PATTABHI JOIS ASHTANGA YOGA SHALA, I don't usually practice Ashtanga Yoga as my main practice, so I too had to look up at the video some... and you may have to look up sometimes as well. NO WORRIES! Oh, and you'll also notice the use of numbers (though you may not have known they were numbers) said in a strange language. That language is Sanskrit. No worries again! You don't have to learn Sanskrit to practice yoga, but you will eventually learn some words such as CHATURANGA! haha as a by-product of your practice. Yoga is Sanskrit too --> योग ;)
After viewing the video, maybe you decide that you love it, or maybe you think Ashtanga isn't for you. That's totally okay! But please don't turn your back on it too quickly... or any type of yoga, really. My advice before you give up on a yoga style is to:
In this video, you can hear Laruga counting out the asanas :) You might also notice me modifying poses because it hurts my injured hands. Modifications are totally fine! Please don’t ever feel ashamed to modify your poses like I do, or by using a block or a strap. We were all beginners once.
OTHER YOGA BLOGS
kinolorber. (2019, March 4). Iyengar: The Man, Yoga, and the Student's Journey - Official Trailer. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvqQwr8xfgc&feature=youtu.be
As soon as life allows it, I'll have a moment to share with you my thoughts about Ayurveda and the lessons I have learned. Until then, consider reading the following book if you're new to Ayurveda:
Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing by Vasant Lad
You can purchase the book HERE.
Vasant Lad's best-selling book clearly explains the history, principles and practical applications of Ayurveda. Many beautiful illustrations, diagrams and charts accompany the text.
It was the first book that I read. It's basic, but a good introduction.
Let me know what you think :)
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley
donating = loving
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by Amy Ippoliti
Enlightenment Is Your Nature: The Fundamental Difference Between Psychology, Therapy, and Meditation
❤ WHAT STUDENTS SAY ABOUT ASHLEY CRUZ YOGA ❤
"From Aldea Yanapay (great school of love to children), to the incredible homely hostel la boheme, to the food at mercado san blas and at greenpoint... My 6 weeks in Cusco/Qosqo/centre/gravitational centre were all truly well balanced out by Ashley ● I have been doing yoga for five years in London, Lisbon and NYC and I was wonderfully surprised by the teacher Ashley in Cusco, Peru. From her words, to the sense of opportunity, helping, the pace, the getting everyone's names and brief "why am I here", taste for music and simply those oils... vinyasa gained a new look for me. ● You made me feel so balanced out, just when I needed that push. May your excellent work continue and your knowledge be taken further." ~ Yours, Ana Maria (portugal)
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