Healing Power of Forgiveness and A Forgiveness Meditation
Psychologists now understand that forgiveness is good for our health, not only our mental health and well-being, but also for our physical well-being. There are those small annoyances, betrayals and hurts where we really want to forgive and reconcile with a person. And there are those bigger betrayals and hurts, such as abuse of a child, where we cannot perhaps reconcile but it can do much for us to still forgive. In my own training in the wonderful powerfully transforming, freeing and releasing Journey process, forgiveness is a key part in the cellular healing process. Understanding is recognised as a key factor in forgiveness: understanding the other and the driving force behind behaviours, and understanding ourselves and our reactions. Additionally and quite crucially, a distinction is drawn between forgiving the person and condoning behaviour. In forgivness, we are not necessarily reconcilling with or condoning a person’s behaviour; and so we are not forgiving to re-establish a relationship with the person in question. Forgiveness in this case, in all cases, can still however be freeing and releasing for us: releasing a healthy flow of prana in the body (from a nervous system point of view), or flow through the nerve currents and of adrenaline in the body. When we do not forgive, we remain consciously or unconsciously in a state of anger. When we think about the person, or remember an event, anger is experienced and adrenaline is consequently caused to surge through our bodies creating physiological reponses and disturbed mental states.
And so some of the consequences of not forgiving can be high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, suppressed immunity, fatigue. It takes a lot of energy to hold onto our resentments, grudges and all that is unforgiven.
Can you imagine this for a moment….imagine each little grudge you still bear, each experience unforgiven, is a weight that you carry with you at all times. Can you imagine travelling through your future, accumulating further grudges, hurts, resentments – experiences unforgiven, and still resented? Each adding to that weight that you carry so to the end of your life that burden is becoming heavier and heavier. What does this do to the way your body feels? Your energy? Your mood and state of mind? Close your eyes as you imagine traveling the future time line of your life in this way. Feel how the weight of resentments and hurts weigh you down, sapping your energy and so killing your joie de vivre, and closing your heart to love, compassion, and connection.
Do you want to continue to carry this kind of burden on your health and vitality with you into 2019? I’m sure we all want to put this weight down, so we can feel free to experience the joy and blessings of life. Only then can we feel gratitude for all that we’ve been given, and feel the freedom, energy, health and positivity that will allow us to express our love, kindness, compassion and creativity, to make our highest mark on life and to affect others lives in a healing and positive way, and to live out the promise of our fullest potentiality.
John Hopkins University in the USA has apparently done much investigation into the positive health benefits of those who undergo forgiveness training: benefits include lower blood pressure, better sleep, feeling physically more well, and having less need for medicines.
Try this forgiveness meditation. It’s a preparation for our Yoga retreat day of thanksgiving this Saturday. Whether you will join us or not on Saturday, it will support you to move into the close of the year with a lighter, more open and grateful heart.
If you did the enquiry practice I posted in the last bog, looking into who you haven’t forgiven and where you haven’t forgiven yourself, then please look at any notes you took and revisit that practice.
Sit quietly where you won’t be disturbed, comfortable and with spine tall. Begin to connect with your breathing. Feel your inhalation touch your heart centre (mid point of your chest), on your exhalation feel yourself letting go into a connection with that space within.
Once you are settled into your breath and connected to the heart centre, can you imagine a campfire and see yourself there. This campfire is a place of safety and of unconditional love.
The next step is to please bring to your mind’s eye an image of that “you” that you haven’t forgiven, or an image of that part of you that suffers and struggles. Please imagine that your eyes are attached to your heart and you are looking at yourself through these eyes. Feel compassion arise in your heart, for this part of you and the difficulties you face. On your inhalation breathe in this suffering. On your exhalation let the suffering dissolve in the light and love of your heart, the spiritual heart which is boundless in it’s love and is always untainted. As compassion arises in your heart, feel how any lack of forgiveness or understanding towards yourself dissolves.
Then please call to mind someone that you love, who is also going through difficulty. See again as if your eyes are attached to you your heart, how this person suffers and struggles in spite of their best efforts. Can you do the same practice for this person that you just did for yourself? Breathe in their suffering into your heart centre, and as you exhale let that suffering release it into the vastness of the heart and see it dissolve there.
The last and perhaps most challenging step is to call to mind someone who is on your “unforgiven” list, someone with whom you have had difficulty this year. Remembering that we are not condoning any behaviours, can you begin to see this person with those same eyes attached to your heart. See that he/she also struggles and suffers, and has experienced unknown sufferings – to a greater or lesser degree, that we cannot know – through his/her life. Can you do the same compassion practice with your breath for this person? Breath in his/her suffering and as you exhale feel the suffering dissolve in the light and vast pool of love in your heart, like a dew drop dissolves in the ocean. Know that our heart of being is ALWAYS untainted, and is boundless in it’s capacity to love and understand. Feel compassion arising in your heart for this person, and perhaps the possibility to forgive.
If you wish, you can carry out the same practice with other people on your list, perhaps choosing the “smaller” forgivenesses. If you are bringing to your mind’s eye anyone who causes fear to arise in you, then imagine an indestructible screen between the two of you that your breath can pass through and only that which is borne out of love and healing can pass through. And remind yourself that this is not about condoning or reconciling to any abusive behaviours.
Once you feel this process is complete, please let all the people you have worked with in the meditation, step into and disappear into the fire of unconditional love with a prayer for their awakening to what has taken place and for their healing. Then please rest a while your awareness on the breath in the heart centre. Are you becoming aware of a new connection to more positive states of being? For example, love, compassion, understanding, kindness, vitality health. Can you record in your notebook, 10 qualities like this that you possibly experience when you rest in this open, loving, forgiving heart space.
When it feels time for you, sit again for a while in stillness to prepare to leave the meditation, ready to get on with your day. If it’s evening time, you can fall asleep with this love, compassion and forgiveness in your heart. please rest your mind in the stillness of your heart.
We will continue from here in the workshop on Saturday…AND I will post a follow on practice next week. SO even if you can’t join us this weekend, please do enjoy the healing power of these practices at home. If there is any point at which you become stuck – for example, discover there is someone you just cannot forgive. Please do drop me a line. There are other powerful practices that I would be happy to work through with you.
Thank you SO MUCH for embarking on this inner work. I am certain that if we want things to change in our worlds, it has to start here – with us being clearer, lighter and more connected to our loving, compassionate, wise heart of being.
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