“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On Friday of last week the full moon occurred in Scorpio. Scorpio is watery, deep and intense. It belongs to Mars (planet of war) and is affiliated with aggression and getting things accomplished.

The debilitated full moon took place in the Nakshatra Anuradha which means “following Radha.” Anuradha means success and is affiliated with devotional practices and creativity. The divine feminine energy was strong. So instead of drawing inward and focusing on our own feelings we needed to practice outward compassion and understanding. Some conflicts and misunderstandings occurred last week because people turned inward and focused on their own personal emotional survival and deeply ingrained fears instead of pouring their compassion outward.

Well what now? We forgive. We learn. We move on.

In Hinduism forgiveness or tolerance of others is called kshama and is cultivated from being devoted to a higher entity. Once you devote yourself to that entity you are granted kripa. Kripa means divine grace, kindness, love or surrender. Kripa is the central tenant in the practice of Bhakti Yoga or the yoga of devotion. Kripa has the ability to remove unfavorable karmas (actions) that we have accrued so that we do not have to encounter its consequences.

The relationship between kripa and karma can be compared to a river. The flow of this river is caused by adharma or wrong actions that impede our path in life. The flow of adharma takes us further from the source of the river. However when we are able to see our misgivings (patterns created by the ego) we are able to experience kripa which brings us closer to the source of the river.

We have to realize that karma (choice in action), maya (illusion) and anava (our ignorance created by ego) are gifts from the universe. We are given these obstacles to help us decipher our egotistical survival patterns from what is the true happy you.

In life we have ingrained emotional patterns called samskaras. These are habitual emotional response mechanisms that we have accumulated over lifetimes. They cause us to behave in certain ways. What we must do to get closer embracing kripa is learn from our experiences by examining our patterned emotional responses. We need to see how we have reacted before and what the triggers were for those reactions. Finally we must find a solution that helps us break the pattern. Once we break away from the habitual patterns we have the power to make amends.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2:33 states:

“When obstructive thoughts arise, practice the opposite thought.”

If our tendency is to lash out when we feel hurt or threatened, instead try to generate a positive thought about the person who has inflicted the pain. When I I was in Haridwar, India last year at Santosh Puri Ashram, Mataji gave an entire lecture about making your dislikes your likes. She explained that this is one of the central themes of the Bhagavad Gita. She said that surrendering (kripa) and letting go (aparigraha) of our conflicted emotions and spreading love (by means of liking pretty much everything) is the key to happiness in our lives.

This may seem like a farfetched task in this lifetime. But its something that we can gradually work toward. Its a practiced skill that needs dedication, discipline and time just like our physical yoga practice. If we can teach our bodies how to do surya namaskara, bakasana, or a handstand we certainly can teach the mind new ways of managing our emotions. In that way we can choose to be happier, healthier people instead of victims of our emotional ups and downs.

Science says that the limbic brain, the “old mammalian” brain, stores reactions to trauma, stress and pain. This is where deeply rooted emotional patterns tend to exist.

The front brain, the cortex, the seat of rational thought, has the ability to replace a negative thought pattern by making a willed choice. This is where grievance can be terminated and where the process of forgiveness begins.

What we need to remember is that we ultimately have the power over what we hold onto. We have to figure out if we want to live in the safe and familiar prison of our samskaras or the vast liberated essence of forgiveness and divine grace.