Redeeming Grief Part II: Empowered Forgiveness
Forgiveness finishes the unfinished business that carries the pain of the past into the present. It unburdens the heart of shame, blame and resentment. Forgiveness restores us to the authentic seat and source of our power. It has the potential to disencumber us from judgment and release us from the burdens of our personal and collective history. Forgiveness guides us home to the heart's natural state of love and receptivity. It rides tandem with Grieving as a way to cleanse the wounds of the past, let go of what no longer serves, and set us free into the Present.
I will never forget the first time I forgave myself... The moment I really let myself back into my own heart after years of shame, years of desperately trying to be the person I thought I was supposed to be, years of numbing myself to the pain of self hatred. I was sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, listening to Stephen Levine's gravelly voice from a taped workshop on the Yoga of Relationship, talking about forgiveness and the merciless mind. I closed my eyes, breathed into my heart, and softened. I softened to me. I saw me, perhaps for the first time, through the eyes of Love. As my eyes opened, swimming with tears, and the sunlight split into a thousand swords of brilliance that momentarily carved away the highway before me and all its shiny cars, I saw clearly how the impersonal mechanics of my conditioning shaped so many of my life's disasters. That despite how easily I could imagine otherwise, none of the past could actually be other than it was. And that none of my mistakes disqualified me from a worthiness of my own love. My life was forever changed in that moment.
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I want you to take a moment to imagine what your life would be like if you were completely free of resentment, blame, and shame. How would it feel to be incapable of experiencing yourself or anyone else as anything less than beautiful just as they are? How much lighter would you feel? How much more love would you get to experience? How much easier would it be to relate to the people you are intimately connected to on a daily basis? Please take a few deep breaths while you imagine this life as vividly as you can in every cell of your body...
This is the life to which true, empowering forgiveness is a precious doorway. A portal through which we walk, again and again, on the way Home.
The medicine of Forgiveness is so often misunderstood. It never condones tragic or harmful behavior. It never says "what you did was OK." It just honestly acknowledges the humanity and fragility of the person who authored such behavior.
Forgiveness is not so much a gift to the one forgiven but to the one forgiving, though it can be quite healing for both parties. It is an unclouded seeing of the truth: That we are all capable of causing pain and harm, whether consciously or unconsciously; that we are all capable of acting out the unhealed traumas of the past to carry inherited patterns of suffering forward. Forgiveness softens the calcification surrounding the heart, ending the suffering that comes with holding ourselves or another outside the circle of our love and compassion. By forgiving you for your tragic mistakes, I set myself free. With every breath of forgiveness I release toxic emotional buildup from my own cells.
Forgiveness is an act of reclaiming our true Power. The power to LOVE and live with an open heart that is not dictated by the actions of another. Forgiveness ends the argument with What Is. By disentangling our lives from the wasted energy and futility of needing anyone to be different than they are in order to feel OK ourselves, we free up tremendous resouces to serve our deepest purpose.
Forgiving DOES NOT MEAN we trust or feel safe in the presence of the person we have forgiven. Nor that we want to spend time with them! It just means we refuse to blind ourselves to their humanity or suffer the pain of blame and resentment for a moment longer. It is entirely possible that after forgiving someone, you will choose to have no contact with them indefinitely.
Forgiveness is a revolutionary act. It is an affirmation of the possibility of restoration and healing in a culture of incrimination and punishment.
Sometimes we are not ready to forgive. It cannot be rushed into. Sometimes attempting to move to forgiveness too soon in the healing process can be one more way we are dishonoring our own authentic outrage. Another merciless, "spiritualized" devaluing of ourselves or a tragic attempt to avoid the discomfort of our anger and resentment. That said, the presence of some resistance to the process of forgiveness is not necessarily an indication that you are not ready.
Paradoxically, we often discover great benefit in forgiving those we might not have a "reasonable" occasion to forgive, like our young children who often do not meet our expectations, or those who have "abandoned" us by dying or going away.
Forgiveness is a skill. One that, like any other, grows easier and stronger with practice. It will change your life.
You can try it right now by turning toward the person who most needs your mercy: You. Take a breath into your heart. Make a little room there for you. Call your soul home to this warm sanctuary. Embrace you. Say to yourself, "I forgive you, dear one. I forgive you for the pain you have caused yourself and others, consciously and unconsciously, in action, word and even thought. I release you from the burden of my shame and resentment. I accept you in my heart, just as you are. Yes, dear one, just as you are. I forgive you."
Please take a moment to download the free mp3 audio of this eleven minute long Forgiveness Meditation. While this version guides you through a gentle process of forgiving yourself, the format can be used to forgive anyone you have put out of your heart. When you are ripe for it, find a quiet, undistracted place, get comfortable, and allow my voice to guide you through a gentle journey into your heart, on the wings of breath and visualization.
When you are ready to take the process even deeper, you can click on this link to schedule a free thirty minute "Empowering Forgiveness" session with me to heal the heart and reclaim your power in relation to someone in your life you have lost connection with.
I look forward to connecting soon...