They say the best revenge is to be happy. I say the best revenge is no revenge at all. I had my heartbroken, and afterwards, I wanted to see terrible things happen to the person that hurt me. I learned that when you stop desiring revenge and replace it with a desire for deep abiding love, magical things happen. I learned this through the art and science of yoga and meditation.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the concept of Sadhana is explained. It is a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal. It involves observation, meditation, and reflection. It also involves action and execution in order to attain your spiritual purpose.
My goal is Atma Prema, also known as self-love. This is not the narcissistic or boisterous love of Facebook pictures and smug self-contentedness. It’s the love that comes from recognizing that we are divine. All people, even my greatest enemy, are worthy of the deepest respect and kind-hearted emotion. Gentle and forgiving Sadhana is not always an easy concept to practice in our political, social, and personal climates. It can be especially difficult when matters of the heart are involved.
“You are the ugliest woman I have ever been with.” My ex-boyfriend hurled those words at me when we broke up the first time. He rooted out my deepest insecurity.
I felt that I was fundamentally too unattractive to be loved. He wounded me. When attacked with my greatest fear, I reacted from a place of wounded ego. I cried. I begged. I pleaded. I raged The Yoga Sutra also talks about illusions.
Illusions are called ‘Maya,’ and we must work to consciously lift the veil of these illusions to recognize our truth, and our subsequent and inherent beauty. This beauty is not contingent on anyone else. It simply exists and is rooted in our perfectness. We practice to peal back the layers of illusion. We practice and meditate to stop hating ourselves, and to honor all that we really are, which is perfect.
Through meditation, I learned that my responses to my ex and to many things was perpetuated on the back of long-standing misconceptions of my own unattractiveness. This illusion of ugliness hearkened back to being a chubby and awkward little girl who was often bullied.
I could not see that I had flowered into someone physically radiant. I did not honor myself, and so I continued to stay or return to a relationship where I was not treated well. I wanted to change. I began to read, meditate, and spend countless hours on the yoga mat.
And yet, I was still stalking my ex-boyfriend’s Facebook feed. I took a mean and spiteful pleasure in the fact that his current girlfriend had physical imperfections. I could not possibly be ‘The ugliest girlfriend he ever had.’ if he was dating her?!? Right? These were my damaging and hurtful thoughts. I was trapped underneath them. The problem was not my physical appearance. That problem I had was spiritual.
My breakthrough came when I learned about the Ho’oponopono. The Ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian art of problem solving. It requires us to take ownership of everything we think, feel, say, and do. It gently guides us into understanding that our troubles are not a result of anything outside of ourselves. The solution for problems of ego, and most problems are caused by fear and ego, is to simply radiate love for ourselves and for others. It is especially important to work on having love and compassion for people who have wounded us deeply. The Ho’oponopono is a mantra of self-love that a person chants, asking for forgiveness.
When I first learned of this chant, I was skeptical. Why would I want to think about my ex-boyfriend and chant the words, ‘Please forgive me. I’m so sorry. I thank you, and I love you?’ He had used and abused me? Hadn’t he? He should say sorry to me!!! I thought all these things angrily. These angry thoughts are all examples of ‘Maya.’
I wanted to stay safe in my victim-hood and my anger, even though it was consuming me from the inside out. Begrudgingly, I began using the mantra. What I learned is that the act of mediating and chanting love for our greatest enemy can actually work to soften our own hearts towards them. More importantly, it helps us to forgive ourselves.
I was not proud of my anxiety, sadness, and rage towards my ex. The damage those emotions were causing me had me stuck in perpetual despair. By chanting the Ho’oponopono, and by wishing him and his new girlfriend true and lasting love, I found that I was able to release the bind he had over my mind and heart.
Little by little, I began to build my own Sadhana that was vibrant and fulfilling. I would come to the yoga mat, or to study, with the intention of forgiving myself and forgiving him. I would set the daily intention of seeking love for myself and for all beings in the world. I created vision boards, and repeated daily affirmations. I delighted in moving my body in the yoga room and on my surfboard.
As I did this, the anger and the anxiety were replaced with a sense of calm. I started smiling more. I laughed with strangers in stores and on street corners. I became more giving and patient with friends and family. But, the most profound change happened when I looked in the mirror and saw beauty staring back at me.
With a stronger sense of my own worth, I began to take actions in my personal life that I was too fearful of when I had been driven by a wounded ego. I recently applied and was accepted into a yoga teacher-training program. I will be living in Costa Rica this summer to continue my Sadhana. I will have the added bonus of surfing in paradise. I have no idea what lies ahead for my heart in the areas of love and partnership. I know that I have closed the chapter of rage and hate. I can forgive my past transgressions.
When my ex-boyfriend crosses my mind, which is infrequently now, I can wish him love with his new girlfriend. I hope he has found a relationship that lasts forever and nourishes his and her spirits. I am no longer looking to compare myself to her or any woman. I am absolutely certain that she is truly beautiful, just as I am absolutely certain that so am I.