Normally for January I’d be writing about resolutions and becoming clear on what we would love to create for the year. This year is different.
I’ve noticed there seems to be a split going on in society. Some folks are becoming more and more afraid, while others are focusing on healing and greater personal freedom. This seems to be the case regardless of the level of “lock down” people are in and experiencing. It’s showing up in many ways, including our political systems.
I took some time off over the holidays to reflect, and had some beautiful, unstructured time. It felt really good to stay off the computer and most social media for a while. I don’t know if you’ve tried that, but if not, I’d highly recommend you consider it sometime 🙂
This month I’ve been inspired to write about something that is near and dear to me – the topic of forgiveness. In my experience forgiveness is the basis for healing on a number of levels.
Over the holidays, you may have had the opportunity to get together with family, or been distanced from them with all that it entails. Family can be the source of great happiness for some, and for others, much sadness and grief.
If you are reading this, I know you want to create a life you love – one that expresses your life’s purpose, is expansive and beautiful, and where you feel happy and even joyful. Yet many of us will be pulled into drama after trauma, carrying baggage with us from moment to moment, week to week and year to year… We may have become so weighed down we are ill or have found a way to live with it yet know it isn’t serving us.
So I have a question for you: Would you be willing to set that baggage down? Its heavy isn’t it…
If not, that’s ok.
Yet if you’ve said “yes” – well congratulations because believe it or not, you’ve taken your first step. The willingness to make the change is essential.
Even if you don’t know what you would love to create on a physical level, you do know in your heart. Now the work starts, and that is where forgiveness comes in.
Many people think that to forgive someone is to say a situation or circumstance didn’t happen, or that it didn’t matter or that forgiveness “absolves” the person from the responsibility of their actions or lets them off the hook. Nothing could be further from the truth.
True forgiveness removes a block in you to the awareness of Love’s presence. It opens the door to understanding that there is something beyond what our 5 senses and perception would have us believe. The book, A Course in Miracles, says (and I’m paraphrasing here) that every act is either an expression of love or a call for love, no matter how egregious that act may be or seem.
I encourage you to reflect on that for a moment…
What if you were to look at a situation, relationship or circumstance that you are currently experiencing, or have experienced, with this in mind.
Can you see more? Does it feel more expansive? Do you feel some compassion?
Forgiveness doesn’t mean we have to be a doormat, to accept abusive behavior (physical, emotional or mental), or even understand the “why”. It isn’t about the other person. Forgiveness is an act of self-love. Its where we decide to not continue to keep the pain of the past alive in our every waking moment. For what can be forgiven but the past? And when it is forgiven, it is gone. We have freed ourselves.
Yes, some action steps may be required. However, change is an inside out job. Nothing changes on the outside until it has first changed on the inside – and it’s often a process.
For, regardless of whether a situation or circumstance is technically in the past, if you are still thinking about it at all, you are keeping it and the emotion of it “fresh” in your mind and it is still happening now for you. That “so ‘n so” or “such ‘n such” did or said _________________. Right? We complain, gossip, tell others and it continues to be fresh, again and again as we continue to tell or justify what “happened to us”.
But that doesn’t feel very good does it?
What we often fail to realize is that while someone may have said or done something, it is we who continue to rehearse the situation over and over again. We are the ones who take it on and don’t let it go.
Now you may be saying… well, you don’t understand, Eve… this was really bad!
Actually, I do understand, because I lived in a world of pain and suffering for many years of my life. I grew up in a household with lots of rules, comparisons, criticisms and where regardless of how well I did, it just didn’t “make the grade”. Judgment was inherent in my upbringing as it may have been for you as well. I don’t blame my parents – they did the best they could under their own circumstances.
Yet, judgment is the basis of our systems of education and socialization – that is the way we are schooled and dare I say, programmed. We judge, compare and criticize each other and everything around us on a regular basis. We are graded throughout our initial 12 years of school (and for some of us it was a lot more than 12 years) and know where we “rank”. Now I’m not here to “judge” the school system or criticize it. That isn’t what this is about, so if you are thinking that, I’d say that’s interesting.
I’m merely making the point that the way we think leads to certain types of results. And if you want different results, you will have to start to adopt new ways of thinking over time. Forgiveness is one way to start.
Forgiveness has the effect of opening us to more abundance, joy and happiness. It allows for release, which is why it feels so good.
There’s no judgment in forgiveness. There is no right or wrong there. We can’t hold onto judgment and forgive at the same time.
And you might even find that once you have forgiven, that past dissipates and the negative feelings, hurt, frustration or anger vanish.
So, you may be saying, well that’s all well and good, Eve, but how do I forgive. Well, the first point to note is that neither the size of the hurt or pain, nor the length of time it has been going on, matter. There is no order of difficulty in the realm of forgiveness.
Here is a process you can begin with:
- Ask yourself if you are truly ready to let this go. We sometimes have an entire story associated with a situation, circumstance or person. It may have become part of your identity in some way, painful though it may be.
- Find a quiet time or space and take some deep breaths until you feel your body quiet and relaxed and then close your eyes.
- Now tune into your heart – turn your attention to the center of your chest where your physical heart is. Allow yourself to feel love for yourself and your life. If any thoughts of pain or judgment come up, kindly tell the thoughts and emotions that you will come back to them once you are complete here.
- Next bring to mind the person at the center stream of the situation or circumstance – it might even be you – and tune into the truth of that being – beyond the limitations of time and space as we currently know it.
- Ask yourself: what gift does this experience or situation have for me? Is it time for you to love and value yourself? Is it time to take a stand for freedom, for your true purpose or your evolution? Be with that for a moment. And if you don’t become aware of a message, what is the feeling or image that comes to mind?
- Thank the person for the gift.
- And when you are ready, open your eyes.
- You may wish to write down your perceptions, thoughts and images and take time later to reflect, if the “gift” is not yet clear.
- Decide that any time that person, situation or circumstance comes to mind, you will replace it with the gift as soon as you notice it.
Prescription: as needed. If I were starting a forgiveness practice I would do this once per week for a month, and reflect in between.
The process here is one that takes a little time. And know that there may be layers to whatever it is that you are working with, so it may take effort over time. However, I promise that you will be rewarded if you take the time.
I’ve found that forgiveness is a daily practice and have learned to “shovel while the pile is still small” 🙂 – I now include it in my daily routine, like showering or bathing. It becomes easier the more we include it in as part of our daily life. You will find your own way – the key is sincerity.
As the outer world becomes more and more chaotic, you don’t have to. Give yourself the opportunity to step outside the chaos for a few moments each day, and decide where you truly want to be. Your choice will always be between fear and freedom.
You do have that choice, though I get that it may not seem that way at first.
Forgiveness is always the choice for freedom.
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Much love coming your way,