“Forgiveness is the economy of the heart; forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.”Hannah More, English writer
At this moment, no matter what storms rage in our reality, each of us has the power to let go of old grievances that hold us back from a more vibrant life. The toughest things to consider are those hard little knots of anger lodged in our hearts that keep our desire for peace of mind just beyond actualization. Once we drag these gnarls of petrified resentment from the closet of old wounds and expose them to the air, we create more space in our hearts for happiness and catapult our chances for living a more joy-filled life straight into today.
Try this forgiveness therapy: Each night as you lie down, drop into your heart and focus on the hardest knots—your feelings and images of those people who have committed a crime against you so heinous you almost believe that a hundred lifetimes reincarnated as a microbe on the belly of a snake would be too good a life for them. When you have these capital offenders clearly lined up in your mind, from the space of your heart say:
“I forgive_____________” (Mom, the teacher who turned you in for smoking, your ex, whomever.)
“I forgive myself.”
Notice how you feel after doing this exercise. Sometime in the next few days, or perhaps weeks, new insights, new sensibilities will emerge. You begin experiencing the steps to forgiveness. You may come to understand that each of those people was doing the best they could manage at the time. You just got caught in their interior melodrama. To help you get to the place of forgiveness, ask yourself this question, “Do I, or anyone else, ever get up in the morning and say, ‘I am going to make a half-hearted effort today?’ ”
I don’t think so. Consciously, or unconsciously, we do the best we can every day with the mental, physical, and emotional faculties available to us right then. Absorbing this truth stopped me from judging myself and other people quite so much, and now I downshift into forgiveness far easier than I ever could before.
I don’t ask myself whether these people actually deserve to be forgiven. They probably aren’t even seeking forgiveness, because apparently, they are happy with the way their lives are right now. That’s not important. What IS important is what forgiving them does for me. Forgiving someone, as Doc Childre and Dr. Rollin McCraty and their team at the HeartMath Institute have shown, frees up huge vats of energy previously being utilized to keep those anger knots solidly in place. Afterward, you feel lighter, happier, and more at peace than you thought possible. You are the prime beneficiary of this gift. The gift you bestow on those you forgive? Extra gravy.
The one catch I must warn you about is the “yes-but,” conditional forgiving gambit. The classic one goes something like, “I forgive my ex-husband, but I never want to see him again.” That is not the real thing. At the time you forgave him, you thought you were done, yet each time you have to see him, or talk to him, or hear his name, your chest tightens. The knots of anger and resentment are still there. You may think it will take forever, but the more you touch that little knot and fully feel the hurt—forgiving them in the above nightly practice– the sooner the knot will finally, completely dissolve. At the moment of sincerely knowing that you have really forgiven your ex-husband, you will beam up to the next level: inner peace. Forgiveness does not mean that you forget or condone what he did to you, or that what he did reflects acceptable behavior in any realm of this universe. It means that you no longer actively feel the anger and the hurt you once did. You don’t let the anger control you; you simply release it from your heart, because to hold it there hurts you. Then you will walk in the slippers of a forgiver.
The last thing I want you to consider is forgiving yourself. You didn’t really think that was just a line in the above exercise, did you? “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete,” the saying goes. This part of the practice may prove a bit harder. At times, it is for me.
Often I think about poor behavioral choices I made in the past or fixate on one of a myriad of other sins I think I committed. But, now I understand that we are all worthy and so most of the time I include myself as worthy of healing too. Sometimes this is difficult to do, but. I must work on making this practice routine. By saying, “I forgive myself” at night after offering grace to all those other “sinners,” I include myself. Acknowledging that for any of the mistakes I have ever made, I made the best choice I could at that moment, given my state of being and working from the best information available, however limited or inaccurate. With 20-20 hindsight, we see how we could have acted differently, but we cannot change the past. Learn the lesson. Let it go and move on.
If forgiving yourself, or even thinking you deserve forgiveness, is a hard concept for you to embrace right now, don’t worry. Just keep adding yourself to the list every night, or whenever you allow a little forgiveness to caress your soul. Each time you initiate this compassion you move farther away from the darkness of pain and closer to the light of happiness. Choose forgiveness and it will set you free–today, tomorrow, and forever.
Until next time…Be Vibrant!