I noticed something interesting and amazing the other day when I was at a dog park and how dogs let go of things so effortlessly. If a dog has a negative experience with another dog (growling, showing teeth, snapping or even biting), the negative experience happens and then literally seconds later it is over. (At least in most instances it seems to end quickly.) Then the dogs go back to getting along as though nothing ever happened. They truly DETACH from the past and live in the present. One of the Yamas we should strive for in our Yoga practice is Aparigraha (non-attachment). If only it were as easy for humans as it is for dogs to detach from negative experiences (or any experiences that we obsess about.)

I watched this very thing happen again during a time I took my dog to an agility class and the lab he has puppy playdates with was there. During their puppy playdates they play wonderfully. Well, during this agility class my dog and the lab started getting quite nasty with each other! Me and my friend were shocked! The trainer told us when we leave the agility class to not even think about what happened as the dogs have already forgotten. When we left the class, both, my friend and I couldn’t help but think about the ugly and scary experience. We had to keep talking outloud to ourselves reminding ourselves to pretend the fight between the dogs never happened. Well, sure enough, the dogs truly acted as though nothing happened. They were back to being friends!

Dogs know Yoga better than People

If only us humans could do the same! We as humans ATTACH ourselves to past experiences. We have an extremely difficult time just letting go. That attachment eats away at our minds and drives us CRAZY. I’m sure you’ve had an experience that you keep running through in your head over and over… AND OVER again. You probably felt like you were almost going crazy. Maybe that experience that you kept running through your head now started ruining your day because your attitude surrounding the experience was negative. This happens to all of us! Sad, but true. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if we could let go of past experiences so effortlessly like dogs? Imagine the weight we would lift off of our mind and soul? And once we remove those weights, our physical body will feel better to! When we let thoughts go out of control in our mind, our shoulders, neck, hips and back could start to hurt. Another reminder that our mind, body and soul are truly connected!

Recently, me and a good friend seemed to drift apart. I reached out to that friend to see what, if anything, was wrong. I asked if I did anything to upset her. Turns out she was upset because I was still talking to a mutual friend of ours that she is no longer speaking with. I know it seems so immature and trivial, but this was the answer I received. I think about my friend often and pray for her that she can learn to LET GO. Obviously, a past experience is eating away at her and she is allowing that past experience to dictate how she thinks and acts in the present. She’s allowing that past experience to interfere with a friendship that could be existing now because she is bothered by that past experience. She’s letting that past experience eat away at her mind. I’m not saying that I’m perfect at LETTING GO and DETACHING. Though I am trying to learn to let go and live in the present. I’m trying to LEAVE THE PAST IN THE PAST.

The other thing that saddens me about my friend and how she is letting her past control her present, is that she and this mutual friend are no longer friends. Neither one will talk to and listen to the other and apologize and move on as friends. This made me think that relationships of all kinds (friendships, family, lovers, etc) should not be defined if those two people in the relationship fight or disagree or not, because any two people in any type of relationship WILL FIGHT and DISAGREE. It is inevitable that all persons in all relationships will fight/disagree at some point. We all have different beliefs and personalities and at times those beautiful differences could easily cause a fight/disagreement. I think a relationship should be defined by HOW YOU MAKE UP. I’ve had many fights and disagreements with my closest friends that I have known since I was a child. Those close friends at times have annoyed me as I’m sure I’ve annoyed them. But just as dogs do not focus on the negative and rather focus on the positive, we as humans should do that same. Negative will happen. But positive will happen too. Focus on the positive! Forgive! Apologize! Move on! No relationship is worth losing over a fight. If we learn to let go (detach) and focus on the positive, rather than then negative, so many relationships could be saved.

How sad a life we would live if we didn’t forgive? Beautiful friendships and family relationships would be lost over stupid things that maybe we thought meant something, but in the big picture mean nothing. I, too, made this mistake (not forgiving and leaving the past in the past) and lost a relationship of someone very dear to me. Everyday I work on forgiving myself for this mistake. We all need to speak our minds, forgive and apologize. Even if we feel we truly didn’t do anything wrong, maybe just apologizing (and a hug) is what needs to be done for both parties to move on.

All that said we also need to remember one of the other Yamas, Ahimsa (non-violence). If we are letting our mind get out of control obsessing about some past experience or someone or anything, we’re causing harm to ourselves. We need to practice not only not harming others, but not harming ourselves. We need to surround ourselves with positive people, thoughts and experiences. Remember, you are what you think!

This link is to an article about a boy who’s stepfather hurt him and his mother very severely. The boy forgave his father! It is a inspiring story and a reminder that in order to create peace within ourselves we need to forgive.


Karin aka Shanti Om