This is air.
Opening the heart chakra.
Blowing away anger and resentment, bitterness,
envy, jealousy, animosity, and rage.
The danger with anger is not that we have it, but that we may not choose to release it. It seems to be the same with anger and resentment. We feed anger with our doubts and fears. We create stories about the insult and injury we experienced. The resentment becomes a self-righteous retreat for our own feelings of smallness and inferiority.
If we are not mindful, we become prone to all the maladies of body and spirit that thrive in the twisters of these negative emotions. Sore backs. Headaches. Isolation. Vengeance. Even chronic and fatal diseases have been attributed to the biochemical disturbances that can manifest when anger is left to brew.
Resentment Can Suck the Life Out of Us & the People Around Us
Anger is not the enemy. It signals us that we need to be in action—perhaps moving away from something that is not in our best interest, perhaps moving toward a change that we are resisting. Anger, in and of itself, is a healthy emotion. Resentment, on the other hand, has the power to suck the life out of us and the people around us.
The word "resent" is derived from a Latin precursor that meant, literally, to "re-feel." When we are resenting someone or something, we are actually re-feeling the hurts and pains and disappointments that have come before; we are living in the past. Unfortunately, we are also impacting the present and setting ourselves up for problems in the future.
For the purpose of our discussion I created a working definition for resentment by blending entries from two dictionary sources: Resentment is indignation or persistent ill will as a result of a real or imagined wrong, insult, or injury. The key words in this rendering of resentment are, for me, "persistent" and "imagined." That is the crux of it, really.
In order to enter into the bowels of resentment, you have to latch on to a perceived hurt and declare by your words and actions that you will not be shaken from your pole. In so doing, you grasp on to something absolutely undesirable. It is a dangerous place to be. At best you will distance yourself from one person who has inflicted a real or imagined hurt; at worst, you set yourself up for an ever-growing list of people you feel justified to cut off from your love and your life.
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Finding & Uncovering Resentment
How do we keep our imaginations from creating situations of persistent ill will? Resentment can be a seething monster that stalks our consciousness and looks back at us from the mirror every morning. But I think it more frequently exists at a deeper level, under the surface, lurking in the shadows of our hearts. Little twisters of persistent ill will just waiting to be unleashed to threaten our relationships and our own well-being.
Let me share my story about "finding" resentment as I was writing this book. Without going into too much detail, I began to be aware of several examples of places where I was harboring persistent ill will for real or imagined injuries to my person. I noticed that there were times when the name or thought of this person or that person would bring out several sentences related to my hurt feelings. Generally, there would be a barb or two back at them in there, too.
We were planning an event at The Lodge in France. We had created a guest list. A few years earlier, I had had a slight run in with one of the people on the list. I could feel my desire to consider not asking that person to participate. I could feel myself prepping for a confrontation. I could feel ill will three years later. I was aware of a sense of real or imagined personal injury sitting in there, under the surface, like an ancient rock from the Grampian Mountains resting at the bottom of the cold North Sea. Three years later, here it comes rolling back onto the shore to be reckoned with.
Opening myself to what was happening in the situation in France made me hyper-aware of other situations where I was holding something against someone else. Among the lot were a parent, a former partner, a sister, and a friend. Rather the gamut of possibilities, don't you think? Nothing vicious; some no big deal—but a collection was brewing, a group of people whose past deeds were being "re-felt" in my present.
Why Do We Hold On To Hurtful Words or Actions?
Why do we do it? Why do we want to hold on to the hurtful words or actions that others might send our way? A relationship ends. Why do we cling to the bitter bits? A parent says something hurtful. Why do we let that find its way inside of us? A friend steps away in our time of need. A stranger embarrasses us. How can it possibly serve me to hold on to past offenses?
I believe that early in our lives resentment may have been a self-protective behavior we developed before we were able to take care of ourselves. If someone was "mean" or "hurtful," we learned to shut ourselves off from her or avoid him as a means of protecting ourselves. If someone disappointed us time and time again, we stopped depending on her. It makes sense ... when you are four or eight years old.
But protecting ourselves by "going away" from the people who hurt us is not such a sensible behavior when we are fully grown, functioning adults. That self-protective response is now a sign of our inability or unwillingness to open our hearts to others in love and compassion, to step fully into our own power, to be vulnerable and authentic, to release the victim mentality and assume the posture of a grounded and responsible grownup. Yes, there are some advantages to being just eight.
Coming To Grips With Your List of Resentments
Do you have a list, too? Maybe I should start by asking if you are hiding from the list, too. It is difficult to face both the wounds that have been rendered and the people who have allegedly inflicted them. We need to look deeply at these things when they first occur. But it just feels easier—and safer—to walk away, to hide out, to isolate, and to let the little splinters of hurt and disappointment fester out of sight.
As I came to grips with my own list, I noticed that I had certain "tells" that would signal me that I had gone to that place of holding ill will. First, I became aware that I could not make eye contact. I am generally a look-you-in-the-eye-and-shake-your-hand kind of person. I assume I avoid the eyes of the other person because I either do not want her to see the hurt or disappointment in me or I do not want to see the Divine in him. I look away or down or to the side rather than taking the object of my resentment in by the seat of the soul.
Second, I distance physically. I will not choose to have a conversation with him. I prefer not to sit next to her. I want a physical distance to create a buffer between the person and what I am holding back. Withdrawing my emotional connection, my physical presence, and my affection are ways of cutting myself off and not having to deal with what I am feeling.
Exploring Resentment & Moving On
Whew! There is a lot on the table right now If you know that there are resentments brewing inside you, you might be feeling overwhelmed, and if you are insisting there are no resentments brewing inside you, you might be thinking you need to move on to a different chapter.
This is a great time to become very familiar with the mantra for the Second Tibetan: This is air. Opening the heart chakra. Blowing away anger and resentment, bitterness, envy, jealousy, animosity, and rage. Creating space for love and compassion, forgiveness and vulnerability, acceptance and peace.
Air has the capacity to seep into places that are shut off. Think of how difficult it is to create an air-tight house in the winter. Air also invigorates and brings freshness. Air, by its very nature as a gas, is expansive. It is more than fluid. It can be everywhere at once. Air is susceptible to the laws of diffusion and will always move from a place where there is more of it to a place where there is less.
Visualize your heart and chest being full of air, opening as the expansiveness of the gas takes up more and more space. What needs to be pushed out? Let those things go as you breathe out.
In each case, be mindful of your thoughts and feelings. Is there anger? Hurt? Sadness? Are the tears making their way to the corners of your eyes? Can you breathe easily or is the breath stiff and ragged? You do not need to do anything with these observations. Notice. Move on.
Releasing The Death and Destruction Resentment Can Bring Into Your Heart
I invite you to rest in Corpse Pose. Corpse is an apt name for what can occur in your life and relationships if you do not release the death and destruction resentment can bring into your heart. It is also a picture of giving up those persistently held hurts and hard feelings. Let them die. Allow them to make their way back into the earth and become compost to feed the thoughts and actions of a higher calling.
As you take complete breaths, visualize a warm breeze blowing over your body—the kind of breeze you might feel when you are lying on the beach, sun shining down on your face, perhaps a little damp from taking a swim. As you remain in Corpse Pose, let that movement of air over your body take the resentment and held hurts in its delicate tendrils and carry them away.
As the breeze moves over you, think or say aloud the names and events you are holding, acknowledging that they are keeping you small and unable to move freely and confidently in your world. As the breeze makes each pass, keep releasing those names and specific events until no more surface. Take a moment to deeply breathe and feel the air expand your heart, opening you to compassion and forgiveness. Feel the lightness the release has brought. Take a moment to offer gratitude for the people and situations you have named.
©2014 by Susan L. Westbrook, PhD. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Findhorn Press. www.findhornpress.com.
The Five Tibetans Yoga Workshop: Tone Your Body and Transform Your Life
by Susan Westbrook, PhD.
As you move through the pages and activities of the book you will discover for yourself the positive effects of performing the rites that have been touted as the “ancient secret of the fountain of youth.”
About the Author
At the age of 50, after more than 25 years as an educator, University Professor, and school developer and director, Susan Westbrook took a leap out of the mainstream to become a high ropes facilitator, life coach, and Reiki Master/Teacher. A consummate teacher, storyteller, and spiritual wanderer, Susan is passionate about helping you go bravely into the dark corners of your inner life so you can begin healing the old wounds that are stealing the peace, joy, and abundance you were created to have. Visit her website at http://susanwestbrook.com/