Forgiveness is an essential part of our spiritual growth and a necessary tool to cleanse karma. Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the heart and the door to the body of Love. If we cannot forgive, we will never be able to truly love. We all have karmic connections to everyone in our lives past and present. This connection is like a fine thread, which may become dark and filled with blockages of negativity. By not forgiving, we give our personal power to the other person and create a prison of anger and resentment around ourselves. When we forgive, the blockages disappear and the thread turns to pure light. As M.L. Stedman said,“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day”. If we don’t forgive, we are the ones who suffer, allowing the other person to hurt us over and over again.
There are essentially three areas of forgiveness. Sometimes all three are involved in the same situation:
– forgiving others for a hurt we perceive they have caused us
– asking others to forgive us for a hurt we perceive we have caused them
– forgiving ourselves for hurts we perceive we have caused
The word perceive is important here as sometimes the idea of the “hurt” might be quite different to different people.
These steps can be adapted for whomever is to be forgiven.
The first step in forgiving is to take responsibility for our emotions. Not necessarily responsibility for the situation, but how it made us feel. Emotions are a choice. To forgive, we must recognize that it is our emotion and stop blaming others for how we choose to feel. Pain is real but suffering is a choice.
Whatever happened, happened. We cannot change the past. Accepting what happened allows us to move from the past to the present. Healing happens in the present. This doesn’t mean we have to forget what happened but dwelling on it or wishing it had been different, doesn’t serve us. Accept it, learn from it and begin creating the future you deserve.
So many people hold onto anger and animosity towards someone who has been dead for years or one group of people are hostile towards another for something their ancestors did generations ago. Such a waste of time and energy.
One of the most important parts of forgiveness is to separate the person from the act. There are many acts which can never be forgiven, murder, rape, child abuse, etc. However, we can always forgive the person who committed the act. Focus your forgiveness on the person, not what was done by the person.
Whatever emotions you are still feeling – anger, sadness, fear, guilt, are the stress and toxicity locked into your physiology, diminishing your quality of life. Take some time to be quiet, be aware of the emotion mentally and then feel it physically in your body. It’s there as some pain, tightness or other discomfort. Now do something physical to release the sensation. This could be jumping, running, shouting or breathing forcefully. Whatever you do should require some effort. Imagine you are forcing that sensation out of your body.
Next see if you can begin to understand why this person might have done what was done. What was going on in that person’s life at the time. Maybe put yourself in that person’s shoes and ask yourself, “What would it have taken for me to do that? How much pain and suffering, how much distorted thinking would I have had to be experiencing to do that?” Remember, everyone, including you, is doing the best they can from their level of awareness, no matter how confused that might have been at the time.
Karma is a complex subject and sometimes hard to accept. From a Vedic perspective, everything is the result of karma, so whatever has happened to us, was the result of some previous act of ours. Consider therefore, that the person who we feel hurt us, was creating future karma for him/herself but was also the postman delivering our karma.
Every experience or situation holds the gift of an opportunity for growth. If we view life as problems, we miss these gifts. No matter how dark the experience might have seemed, look for the opportunity. Our spiritual strength and awareness comes from seeing the opportunities.
Meditation is a powerful tool that can help us in the process of forgiving. A silent meditation such as Primordial Sound Meditation takes us beyond the mind, beyond thought. It allows us to naturally release the blockages that are causing our suffering. A lack of forgiveness creates limitations in our lives. Meditation allows us to look beyond the problem and opens us to the realm of Infinite Possibilities. Meditation brings clarity of thinking and opens our heart, bringing compassion and understanding.
Guided meditations such as the one below can also help us forgive.
Although Stedman said we only need to forgive once, sometimes there are several layers to forgiveness. As we peel off one layer, another is exposed. No one says it is easy but it is necessary and the rewards are well worth any effort.
Remember, forgiveness is all about you. Even though it may sound selfish, it’s necessary for you to reach a place of comfort within yourself before you can help anyone else.
Forgive and forget?
If we can forgive and forget great, however, this isn’t necessary. If someone has harmed us, forgiving doesn’t mean we have to spend the rest of our lives with them. If the person
committed a crime, forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean he/she should not be legally punished. Forgive but use your common sense. Learn from the experience.
If the situation involved another person you are still in contact with, sharing your feelings and allowing the other to share his or her feelings is the way to create a strong meaningful relationship moving forward. However only do this if both of you are ready.
Writing a letter to the other party, expressing your feeling and addressing forgiveness can also be a useful tool when a face to face dialogue isn’t possible. There’s no need to even send the letter, it’s for your benefit.
Like so many other things in our lives, the best approach is prevention. If we live our life consciously aware of our choices, hopefully we’ll avoid situations that could be hurtful.
If we do find ourselves in such a situation, the sooner we can process our emotions, the less we’ll have to forgive in the future. The process for forgiving in the moment or forgiving something from the past is essentially the same process.
Celebrate your Freedom
As we’ve mentioned, forgiveness often has many layers but you’ll know you have truly and fully forgiven something or someone when you can face it with no emotional charge. Processing any emotion isn’t comfortable, which is why we often keep putting it off. When you do forgive, reward yourself. Enjoy the lightness, empowerment and the freedom forgiveness brings.