Sometimes people hurt us: intentionally or unintentionally.  Some times we know we are hurt – right away, the words have slipped out or the door is slammed in our faces.  We immediately recognize the hurt – our heart rate rises, we might notice our breath becoming shallow, maybe we feel that flight/fight reaction and just want to run away.  Other times we don’t know that someone has hurt us until months or maybe even years later.

I find that when someone is unkind to you, to your face, it hurts but I know it’s happened, maybe others saw it too, and I can usually let it go pretty quickly, by talking about it with friends and thinking it through.  When you discover that someone was mean to you in the past, and you have carried on being nice to them, the hurt is mixed with humiliation, that you were treated badly, yet you kept going.  And perhaps other people knew – for example, maybe your friends didn’t tell you about the affair that your partner was having and you found out after the fact. This betrayal can make the pain feel worse.

We have to learn to let go of these mistreatments, so they don’t fester and rot. What we don’t want to do is let these people & their negativities take up valuable mental real estate.  I found that was key years ago when someone told a lie about me, and never admitted their wrong.  I had to find a way to let go of this, so it didn’t consume me and negatively affect my relationships with other people who this person and I were both connected to.

What can we do?

Every time we breathe in and out we have a chance to let go.  Each breath is a constant reminder to let go. Every new in-breath is a chance to take in a new lighter, brighter future. So start here.  Just breathe it out.  Allow the exhalation to relax your body.  Soften the space between your eyebrows, your jaw line, your shoulders and the palms of your hands.  As you inhale direct the breath to the tightest muscles and exhale the tightness, the hurt, the sadness, the stress.

More specifically, there is a meditation practice called Tonglen, where we take in the suffering of the other person.  This can be done for anyone who is suffering, but can be a hugely healing practice if you do it for this person who is causing you the pain and sadness, this person who hurt you.

Start by closing your eyes and picturing this person standing in front of you.  See their face, hair, body, clothes.  Look at the expression on their face.  And then inhale their pain in the form of thick, dark, hot, heavy smoke, through every pore in your body.  This hot, heavy, thick, dark smoke dissolves in the bright white light of your heart center.  And you exhale that bright, white, clean, clear light back out to them.  Continue this for 10-15 minutes.  And then let your breath return to normal and open your eyes.

Every breath – it’s your choice – are you going to let it go or let it fester?  Take back the power and don’t let other peoples bad behavior direct your life and your experience of it!

Copyright Tamsin Astor, YogaBrained LLC, 2015