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Monthly Musing: Emotional Spring Cleaning

Last Tuesday, finding that I had a free afternoon, I did some spring cleaning: I cleaned out my closet and donated several suits and other garments that are still in good condition. This has been on my mind for some time now and it felt good to finally take care of it. I needed to purge what no longer serves me and having lost 38 pounds in the past few years, these items no longer fit me. It was a freeing moment having accomplished this task that I have been procrastinating about.
It reminded me that spring is a popular time to cleanse and unclutter your physical space, however, it is probably more important to do that with your inner space releasing negative emotions from your psyche. So the question is, what is a good example of emotional spring cleaning?
The central message of our recently celebrated Easter is “Father forgive them as they do not know what they are doing.” So as part of your emotional spring cleaning consider forgiveness as an essential practice. Forgive those that have harmed you and forgive yourself. Why? Forgiveness can improve your health, relationships, and manifest peace. It has done this for me and will for you. Just like the clothes that no longer fit because of physical changes, old emotions from the past no longer serve us as we spiritually grow and change. Read on to learn more about emotional spring cleaning and how forgiveness can unclutter your heart, mind, and spirit this season.
In 2004, I was hosted by Pope John Paul with 30 other worldwide leaders that included His Holiness the Dalai Lama for a 5-day conference held at his summer palace in Castel Gandolfo, Italy. HH shared that since the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1949, they have killed 1.2 million Tibetans from a population of 6 million and destroyed over 6,000 monasteries. All Tibetan adolescents attend a monastery for 2 years learning their faith and culture. They imprisoned many high-ranking monks including his best friend with whom he attended the monastery. HH was able to get his friend released after 30 years of imprisonment, during which he was tortured. When he finally came face to face again with his friend, he told HH that “while he was in Chinese prison, he had an impending danger in his life.”
When HH asked him, “Were you afraid the Chinese were going to kill you?” He said, “No, the impending danger in my life was losing compassion for the Chinese who imprisoned and tortured me for 30 years and murdered 1.2 million of my brothers and sisters and destroyed 6,000 monasteries.”
I wept in profound understanding about what the monk had shared. He was afraid to lose his compassion and ability to identify the humanness in others, just like I learned when I forgave my son’s killer seeing that he was a victim along with my son. If I lost compassion for him, what would I replace it with?
Resentment is a form of entitlement that can steal your energy and make you more spiritually fragile. So, in this musing, I offer some tips on how you can learn to spring clean your negative emotions and release your own resentment and channel your inner Tibetan monk.
First, understand that living in resentment, anger, and/or hatred harms YOU and NOT the offender. It is essentially self-abuse. You might as well get a whip and flog yourself. These feelings of anger and relentless hatred can become overly consuming robbing you of peace and can negatively affect your health as they often manifest in fatal diseases like cancer. As Nelson Mandela taught us, “staying in resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for your enemy to die.”
Second, you must learn to separate yourself from the offender. Leave judgement to the higher power. There is no escaping wrongdoing; karma always balances. One of the biggest impediments to releasing resentment is judgement. The offender has his journey, and you have your journey. Do you want to live in hatred or peace?
Thirdly, recognize there is no quality of life living as a victim. Unless you give up resentment and forgive, you remain a victim.
I had a full life when my son was alive as an international banker and then for some time, no life. I wanted that full life back–we all do! I have a full life again because of my choice to release resentment and judgement. In fact, this life I have today is more fulfilling and meaningful than before–banking was about monetary wealth, now my life is about saving the lives of youth through the work of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation and teaching forgiveness and peacebuilding.
Finally, to strengthen your spiritual resiliency seek inner guidance. I do that through quiet time, meditation (here is a link to my guided meditations) contemplation, and/or journaling.
As you become more resilient, you no longer ask, “Why me?” (Which keeps you in a victim mentality). Rather ask, “Why have I attracted this experience to myself?” In the Buddhist tradition, they believe everything that happens to you – you attract for your evolution. This is part of the secret to how the Buddhist monk mentioned above remained in compassion irrespective of suffering enormous pain.
In conclusion, as Robert Louis Stevenson taught us, “Life is not a matter of holding good cards but of playing a poor hand well.” All of us experience hard hits. Expecting that you are somehow entitled to a perfect life with no hardship is unrealistic, it is like playing football and not being tackled. I believe that the universe does not give you more pain than you can handle.
Every cloud has a silver lining, so make room in your heart for gratitude for all that has happened to you and all the people that have crossed your path–-friends, family, and foes–they all came into your life to make the perfect you that you truly already are. As you clean out the negative emotions through the practice of forgiveness, you will be able to focus on all the emotions that serve your spiritual journey toward peace and purpose.
Enjoy the spring and the many stunning blossoms that color our landscape and lives!
Peace and many blessings on your journey forward,
Azim Khamisa
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