The Miracle of Forgiveness
Recently, I was in a situation that took me by surprise. A person I coached and also saw as an acquaintance was hurt terribly by an interaction that we had in public when I crossed a boundary unbeknownst to me. This person alerted me to this the next day in a number of emails. While I was shocked, I responded in a way that I thought was respectful: I apologized, owned my behavior, and offered to meet face to face to resolve the issue. This person refused to meet face to face, as he/she did not feel comfortable meeting.
Personally, I have always been a fan of confronting issues head-on to resolve a conflict with a person or organization. However, there are many situations where meeting face to face or over the phone are not possible. It is during these times that I turn to the practice of forgiveness meditation to make peace with myself and whoever else is involved. It is not necessary for all parties to be present and willing to participate in order to make peace and move on.
I first learned about forgiveness meditation from Jack Kornfield in his CD Guided Meditations for Difficult Times. The practice of forgiveness meditation requires that we forgive in three directions. Here’s Jack’s guidance on the three directions. (It doesn’t make sense to rewrite because his words are perfect to me.)
To practice forgiveness meditation, let yourself sit comfortably, allowing your eyes to close and your breath to be natural and easy. Let your body and mind relax. Breathing gently into the area of your heart, let yourself feel all the barriers you have erected and the emotions that you have carried because you have not forgiven—not forgiven yourself, not forgiven others. Let yourself feel the pain of keeping your heart closed. Then, breathing softly, begin asking and extending forgiveness, reciting the following words, letting the images and feelings that come up grow deeper as you repeat them.
FORGIVENESS FROM OTHERS: There are many ways that I have hurt and harmed others, have betrayed or abandoned them, cause them suffering, knowingly or unknowingly, out of my pain, fear, anger and confusion. Let yourself remember and visualize the ways you have hurt others. See and feel the pain you have caused out of your own fear and confusion. Feel your own sorrow and regret. Sense that finally you can release this burden and ask for forgiveness. Picture each memory that still burdens your heart. And then to each person in your mind repeat: I ask for your forgiveness, I ask for your forgiveness.
FORGIVENESS FOR YOURSELF: There are many ways that I have hurt and harmed myself. I have betrayed or abandoned myself many times through thought, word, or deed, knowingly or unknowingly. Feel your own precious body and life. Let yourself see the ways you have hurt or harmed yourself. Picture them, remember them. Feel the sorrow you have carried from this and sense that you can release these burdens. Extend forgiveness for each of them, one by one. Repeat to yourself: For the ways I have hurt myself through action or inaction, out of fear, pain and confusion, I now extend a full and heartfelt forgiveness. I forgive myself, I forgive myself.
FORGIVENESS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE HURT OR HARMED YOU: There are many ways that I have been harmed by others, abused or abandoned, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word or deed. Let yourself picture and remember these many ways. Feel the sorrow you have carried from this past and sense that you can release this burden of pain by extending forgiveness when your heart is ready. Now say to yourself: I now remember the many ways others have hurt or harmed me, wounded me, out of fear, pain, confusion and anger. I have carried this pain in my heart too long. To the extent that I am ready, I offer them forgiveness. To those who have caused me harm, I offer my forgiveness, I forgive you.
After hearing from the person I hurt for several days, I meditated twice each of those days. I found tremendous peace by taking Jack’s three directions, or steps, one by one. First, I forgave myself for harming this individual, which I did unknowingly, and I allowed myself to be human and remember that I make mistakes. I never would knowingly cause harm to anyone. My second step was to show forgiveness for beating myself up after this happened and for not maintaining healthy boundaries, again allowing myself to be human. In this second step, I chose to show myself compassion. My third step was to forgive this person. Although she was unaware of it and still is, her words hurt me deeply. I am sure that she unknowingly hurt me. I forgave her and wished her peace. Through this process, I was able to create peace for myself and move on. There is no better gift that we can give ourselves than forgiveness. It is a true form of self-love.
I would like to share with you a great read. I just finished Carl Honoré’s second book, The Slow Fix. Many of you may remember that I shared his first book, In Praise of Slowness, a number of years ago. His current book The Slow Fix is another winner. Carl tackles our addiction to speed and displays that tackling problems in all areas of life can be much more effective by applying a mindful, slow-fix strategy.
I can’t think of the practice of forgiveness without thinking of the practice of self-compassion. I just signed up for an online course by Brené Brown and Kristin Neff. I think this will be an amazing opportunity. Click here in case you care to treat yourself to a few lessons on how to be more compassionate and kind to yourself. Treat yourself! You so deserve it.
You all know how I love quotes. Here are some wonderful quotes regarding forgiveness and how the practice of forgiveness can be a miracle in our lives.
Until next time,
Safe Space Life Coaching