There are stories about Gopal that I've shared in Jivamukti class, and often in these stories his mother plays an integral part. And why not? For all of us, the first bond that we make is with our mother. Inside our mother's womb, as a fetus, we were protected. We were born and our first human contact is with our mother. From thereon the relationship changes or evolves. For some, the relationship could be easy and straightforward. For others, the relationship may have grown complicated throughout the years. Regardless of whether we felt loved or abandoned, nurtured or ignored, cared for or neglected, connected or misunderstood, the relationship is one wherein we are heavily invested, whether we choose to admit it or not. And this relationship also forms the blueprint of many of our other relationships. We may even catch ourselves repeating the same patterns from our childhood.
The yoga practice is a reflective one. As we spend time putting our bodies in different yoga asanas or poses, we may find that certain sensations or thoughts or feelings arise. When that happens, we can allow ourselves to stay in the present moment, observe what is happening, and by not attaching to it, we resolve the karma. Karma simply means action. And because all actions create consequences, as yogis, we strive to make our actions pure so they do not result to any more negative consequences.
The way we live our lives is like staying on the outside edge of a wheel. Something we like happens, then we are happy, we are on top of the world. Something we do not like happens, we suffer, we become angry and negative. In this wheel that goes around and around, we may feel completely out of control, swayed by this event and that event in our lives. Samsara is the Sanskrit word for wheel. It refers to this cycle of mechanized madness where we keep doing the same thing, we keep getting the same results, and we are unhappy.
There is a way out of samsara. Any wheel that moves has a center, a center that is steady. That is the changeless reality, who we really are, the fully enlightened version of ourselves. To get there, we must be willing to change the way we think, the things we say, the actions that we take. To be free we have to stop becoming victims of our attachments and patterns and negativity, and we can start by resolving the first relationship we have, the relationship we have with our mother.
There is an ancient Hawaiian practice called Ho'oponopono which focuses on mental clesnsing through forgiveness. We can adapt the practice to heal this relationship. Maybe for some of us, we think it is not possible. But the healing comes from us, and is independent of outside circumstances. So even if you no longer speak with your mother, or maybe she is no longer here, or maybe you are holding on to pride, you can still practice healing and you can still confront any unresolved issues.
The first step is to ask for forgiveness, simply to say the words "I am sorry". Maybe it is an apology for a specific incident or situation. Maybe it is a blanket apology for all that has been done. You can start by saying this in your mind. And what you choose to do with this later on is up to you.
The second step is to cultivate gratitude, to express it in the words "Thank you". Maybe it is thank you for the love, or thank you for all that you did, or thank you for all that you tried to do. Maybe it is a partial thank you for the things done right. Maybe it is an unconditional thank you for all the right intentions. Say this in your mind. And whether you choose to express it later on to her is up to you.
The third step is to allow yourself to feel the love, to say the words "I love you". Maybe you have a close relationship where you say this all the time you start to feel disconnected with the actual words. Maybe you did not know your mother well or at all. Maybe there is distance between you. Do not let your hesitation in saying this to her in person stop you from at least saying this in your mind right now. What you choose to do later on is up to you.
The August focus of the month in Jivamukti, Gopal, reminds us that our childlike nature was to forgive and be grateful and be open to love. We may have forgotten this childlike nature along the way because we have been hurt and we built walls around us. Our yoga practice can guide us back to that vulnerability. It is not a weakness to be open. It is our strength that we are each capable of freeing ourselves from our own suffering by being unconditionally compassionate towards all our relationships with others and ourselves. And yes, we can start by working on our very first human connection with our mother. It is through this that we can find freedom. No one else can do it for us. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are our own saviors.