July- A Practice of Forgiveness
Updated: Sep 11, 2019
This past July has been a month that poked at a few old wounds. I don’t know a lot about astrology, but apparently the combination of Mercury being retrograde, and two eclipses, provided a potent elixir for revealing what needed to be healed - in a big way.
The overall lesson for me was to deepen my practice of forgiveness. What does forgiveness really mean, and how do we forgive? Forgiveness is a non-linear alchemical process, requiring integrity and courage. It happens in waves, layers and stages. There is a felt sense in the body when the energetic charge is released. Our need to be guarded, softens. We feel less constricted, more open, and more willing to step forward again.
Similar to a stream trickling down a mountain, the energy of forgiveness moves around rocks, through muck, and along water life, determined to find freedom. It’s messy, bumpy and downright painful. It ebbs and flows, reminding us that sometimes it’s easy to forgive, and sometimes, it isn’t. The process of forgiveness is not one that can be rushed or forced. For myself, I have spent days, months and even years, in what I would describe as an ‘eddy of forgiveness.’ I swirl here, wanting to move forward, not yet able to let go and be carried by the current to freedom. I have come to understand how important it is to validate our suffering for ourselves, and learn to self soothe. It is also important to be witnessed in our suffering by another trusted person, as this helps us feel seen and supported. However, it is only when we acknowledge our wounds from within, can we feel brave enough to release ever so slightly, and let ourselves be carried a bit closer to an ocean where all is forgiven, including ourselves.
Here are three awareness practices I have found to be helpful with forgiveness:
1. Listening to Jack Kornfield’s Forgiveness Practice regularly: This is a guided meditation, focussing on three directions of forgiveness:
Offer of Forgiveness: To others from myself
Offer of Forgiveness: To myself from myself
Offer of Forgiveness: To myself from others
This meditation reinforces the reality of how we have all hurt, disappointed and abandoned others as well as ourselves - consciously or unconsciously - out of fear, pain or confusion, through our speech, behaviour, action or in-action. From this perspective, there is no such thing as “taking sides,” there’s only one side, and we are all here together.
2. Understanding what “for-giving” means: Forgiveness does not mean we play “nicey nice” together in the sandbox. After all, there are some hurts that knock us to our knees, changing us forever. Rather, forgiveness means we no longer carry the burden of trying to forgive - instead, we let go of whatever we are holding, and let ourselves be carried.
3. Being accountable for 100% of our experience: Our conscious self is a wise adult who feels genuine remorse, and who takes full responsibility for their mis-steps. There's no victimization or blaming. This is where the practices of conscious speech and compassionate communication are vital. They are the essential skills needed to create emotional safety and stability by keeping our egos in check - only then, can our hearts truly open.
Forgiveness is a lifelong practice, and it is the most powerful healing practice for our world.
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Jack Kornfield’s Forgiveness Practice