(This newsletter is part of a 4 week study on Forgiveness according to the Bhakti path. Links are provided below the video to all parts in this series.)
Dear Yoga Community,
Our topic this month, forgiveness, has been quite powerful for me, as well as others in our community. In conversation with my husband I asked, "What are your thoughts on forgiveness?” My tone acknowledged the challenging nature of this topic, as did his sorrowful look when he replied, “Yeah, it seems we hold onto these grudges, these stories, and it keeps us in suffering.” We talked a little more about how our current culture elevates reason above all else, and how that prevents us from receiving the spiritual fruits of forgiveness.
A moment later my 9 year old daughter (the bug saver) told us to look out for the daddy long-legged spider crawling over the rug. As you all have learned, I often look to the natural world for insight, guidance and inspiration and I laughed, as I knew the spider was just giving me yet another chance to remember all it had recently taught me about Forgiveness. Its message has been nothing short of profound: Don’t be afraid of fear. Look into the darkness. Use your “antenna” to tap into the higher vibrations where forgiveness flows naturally. From this place, cast your new web of life, thread by beautiful thread.
These messages from the spider, in response to my contemplation about forgiveness, are an example of what I call “Our Yoga Nature”. This is a play on words to show how the essential teachings of yoga are also contained within the varied expressions of nature. In Yoga, we are continuously awakening the wisdom within us as we harmonize our body, mind and spirit. In nature, each creation of the Divine exemplifies unique attributes, archetypes or energies that can, likewise, awaken and harmonize our divine wholeness. Our yoga nature is one in which we experience the wisdom within us, as well as see it reflected in all of creation around us.
To me, this has become a conversation with universal intelligence, or God, and its instruction is incredibly relevant to me on any given day. I now trust the reactions and observations I make, unique to each aspect of nature, and then allow their messages to become clearer through studying, wondering and listening for the meaning. Sometimes it spans over a few days, and often the creature appears at least 3 times, both of which happened with the spider. Below I will share the message I learned in each of the three encounters, as an invitation for you to observe how this might work for you.
Our first reaction to something is perhaps the most important message, and it is therefore essential that we are honest and authentic. Our reaction is all a part of this conversation with our divine nature, which is mirroring back our own vibration in any given time. With the spider my first reaction was one of instinctual fear, and I asked myself what this had to do with forgiveness. Well, forgiveness is scary. First, it requires bringing a painful situation into our waking consciousness, and we’d probably rather not think about it. We also are given very few instructions for this spiritual practice, and few role models. The spider’s message is to trust this fear as a sign of something important being communicated from our soul. Is there something we are afraid to look at? Is fear keeping us stuck in an old pattern?
The second thing that grabbed my attention about the spider was its antenna, which had an unusually dark color, again reminding me to look at the value of the dark--the unknown and scary place for us. The dark is often associated with the feminine and the higher consciousness available to us when we look to the internal, quiet space of our soul. In the dark, we can become more aware of fine and subtle perceptions, which is what the antenna are all about! Our spiritual antenna will help us feel our way through the dark and unknown aspects of forgiveness, and awaken wisdom there.
The third thing that caught my eye was the spider’s peculiar position, with seven legs on the ground and one lifted up onto the wall. As humans we do not typically take on this posture, but metaphorically we can receive this invitation to step into a different plane or dimension of reality. This is perhaps the most important lesson about forgiveness, for it is an act of the spirit, not the ego.
The inability to forgive can’t exist in the spiritual plane because only energies like union, understanding, compassion, love and surrender exist there. Its flow comes from a different part of ourselves, from a different plane of reality--the spiritual plane--and its practice also delivers us into higher realms of our soul. Try noticing how you feel about a difficult relationship at the end of a yoga class, or when you are in nature, and you will begin to see what happens when we surrender our ego to our spirit.
The spider’s wisdom about forgiveness begins with an acknowledgment of its difficulty, and that we can transmute our fear into a recognition that our soul is communicating something important to us. As we learn to trust that our fear is guiding us, we can also learn to trust the dark and the unknown aspects of this important spiritual practice. More than ever, as a collective, we all need to be forgiven as well as to forgive. And, yet, we are not very good at it. The spider reminds us to raise our antenna, and take a step into the higher dimensions of reality, where reason and the ego are softened and guided by the light of the spirit.
with great love, Julie
Our Spider Sense (1:15 min)
Content related to this months theme:
Guiding Theme | Issue #104 | You Will Laugh!
Yoga Philosophy | Issue #105 | Our Forgiving Nature
Our Yoga Nature | Issue #106 | Forgiveness Lifts Us to a Higher Dimension
Yoga Therapy Practice | Issue #107 | The Light and Hum of our Spiritual Nature