We all have heard that hating, holding a grudge, and not forgiving isn't a good thing, right?
But why? Because it's not nice?
Why should I love someone who acts in a way which I don't approve of?
Why should I have positive feelings towards someone who is causing harm to others?
What's wrong with having negative emotions towards others? It doesn't hurt them. They often even don't know that we hate them. They sometimes don't even realize we exist!
And that's precisely why.
They sometimes don't even know you exist! Hating them won't change their actions. The only one who suffers and whose life is affected is you.
One of the participants in my recent meditation workshop put it pretty nicely - "It's like you are drinking poison and expecting your enemy to get hurt."
Cultivating negative emotions promotes small-minded thinking, which affects your actions, decision-making, and also your self-esteem.
It can also lead to anxiety and depression. It's like constantly micro-dosing poison into your system. It affects not only your mental state but also your physical health. Studies show that stress and poor mental hygiene may cause such problems as memory processing and learning disorders, suppressing functions of the immune system, and putting your cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health at risk. Some of the implications can even be deadly.
So what to do? Clearly, I'm not saying that you suddenly have to become okay with the fact that people are hurting other people, animals, or the environment.
You don't need to start loving what the opposite political party is doing.
What can you do then? Doing your part, taking small actions to change your reality into the one that you have envisioned. As Gandhi used to say, "Be the change you want to see." That will make you feel better!
What about your negative feelings toward the people you can't stand?
You don't need to write love letters to them. It's not about them.
It's about your health and your wellbeing.
Where to start? Yoga teaches that we are all one. By hurting others, you hurt yourself. Learning to see that, and understanding people are separate from their actions can make a difference in your perception of them. One of the practices that help to overtake negative thinking with positive, love-based expansive thinking is Metta Meditation. It's also known as Lovingkindness Meditation. My teacher, Brand Passalacqua, the founder of the Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy School says that Metta is like planting a seed of a good, but very invasive plant in your heart, it crowds out the negative emotions. And then we can find peace because love from our heart underlies most of our thinking.
It's useful to remember that even though, in this meditation, you bring to your mind other people, the practice is not for them. It's for you. You are the one who benefits from it.
Here is a link to a guided Metta Meditation that I recorded. You are welcome to use and share it. You can also explore recordings of Metta by other teachers or practice your own version. Enjoy!