“Be kind to your own past versions that you didn’t know now.” ~ Unknown
When I taught yoga classes in prisons in Colorado and New Jersey, I ended the class with Metta Meditation.
May all of us feel forgiveness.
May all of us feel happy.
May we all feel loved.
May all our suffering be healed.
May you feel peace.
Women in all light gray sweatpants are in a relaxed yoga position, usually lying on a yoga mat with their feet facing the wall. Fluorescent lights are full blast because they are always in jail or jail. Some women will feel comfortable with their eyes closed. Some people don’t.
While playing quiet meditation music, I guided the meditation with the gentlest possible voice, considering the loud noise outside the room. Basketball dribbles were often heard constantly in the men’s gymnasium. Someone in the complex may be yelling and we all have to get over it.
When they spoke the first line, “Can you feel forgiveness,” their tears began and a stable stream rolled down their faces. When speaking later, they said that the most challenging part of the practice was to forgive themselves.
If these prisoners were allowed to dress as they wanted, they would have looked like other groups of yoga students.
I didn’t know who killed someone. Because their lives were so desperate. Or those with too many DWIs — because their addiction (the one used to hide abuse and trauma) was out of control. Or, a person who has received a restraint order from an abuser and has violated it himself. Because she was convinced he loved him this time.
Now that they have been imprisoned, their parents and children are also suffering from the consequences.
Choice to regret
Everyone understands that our personal choices can bring challenges to others. Some of us were fortunate enough not to be imprisoned for our decision.
We all made a decision hoping that it could be revoked. I said that I want to get it back. We were important, sacred, ignoring what was important, and had results. We could have been too naive or too obsessed with principles or completeness and had emotional victims.
These regrets lie deep in our hearts. They are like dark shadows stalking the space of our minds, the ropes binding our self-acceptance and preventing us from flying high. You may still feel the impact of the choices made 20, 30, or 40 years ago. And even today, shame and guilt influence our decisions.
The mistakes I have made to my children are the hardest to handle. The abuse of my second marriage was harmful to my children, my community, and me. Fallout took years to unwind.
When life seemed to return to normal, I had time to see my role in trauma. It’s mainly a red flag that I ignored when I was dating him. I felt uncomfortable, ignoring what happened in his first marriage, and the comments he said, but I didn’t react, my hindsight, my ball and chain I’m dragging my self-esteem. The time was healed, but even a small mistake was a trigger. If I say something wrong in a conversation, as we all do, I can go down slippery slopes and be pulled into a pile of unresolved remorse.
I decided enough not to think about those stories. I’m not sure if I can find some of them and perfect peace. I know they still have the power to disturb my peace of mind.
I know it’s worth the effort to come to some Resolving regrets, even if we have to keep shaving them over time.
Consciously handle regrets
One way I’ve dealt with regret is to write a story. Throw everything out of your head, including difficult ones. If possible, write what to do next time or say something else. It turns out that knowing what you have learned from past mistakes is healing.
Exporting the story also gives me a clear idea of what I need to fix.
Does anyone say I’m sorry? Need to inspire courage to have a heartfelt dialogue with other players in the story? Or do I have to forgive myself if I already say sorry? Do you need to consciously let go of the story now? Need to remember that sticking to the story doesn’t help me at all?
I also regret practicing meditation.
One of the most powerful times to deal with regret happened early one morning in the spring when I was sitting on the roof of the garden of a stone house. I felt heavy. The severity of the abuse in the second marriage, and the resulting divorce, pulled me down again.
As I listened to the birds singing to each other, I felt a sudden inspiration to recite the Metta meditation that shed tears in the eyes of prisoners in a distant prison.
“May all of us feel forgiveness,” I began. This time, the mysteries of the surroundings and the familiar words from ancient times made me feel a sense of liberation and freedom that I had never felt before. The bird bark let me know that I could let go of another part of my remorse about what I could have done otherwise. Tears came out. My heart was relaxed.
Accepting that you may not see perfect harmony with regret is, in and of itself, part of letting go of them. I have heard this from other clients.
A common challenge for women later in life is not to be familiar with their children. Marcia, the mother of five adult children, regrets how hard she struggled with her eldest daughter. Her attempt to repair her relationship did not produce the results she wanted. It is difficult to accept that this alienation may or may not be temporary. She promised to get closer to her daughter, and it’s the peace she can find every day.
You may also need to find a solution with someone who has already passed. Twelve years after her mother died, I used Metta meditation to reconcile with her mother. It completely surprised me and freed my mind more than I had ever thought.
Become the whole
All regrets, memories of shame, and overwhelming guilt are part of us. When we are driven by them, we may make choices that are not in our best interests. We may believe that it is not worth the good, or that it deserves relentless punishment. If you incite regret by repeating regret, you will increase shame and increase your emotional charge. Our minds continue to be fragmented, connected to the past, and feel imperfect.
If you can handle your regrets with kindness and compassion, you can use these painful memories as part of a bank of wisdom.
A heartfelt life accepts all the mistakes we make. A heartfelt life is compassion for all the time of our lives when we make mistakes. I understand that we are not alone — each adult regrets. As we live wholeheartedly, we can build healthier relationships and make wise decisions in every effort.