‘Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.’ Bruce Lee
I have really been called to step up my forgiveness practice over the past few months. I have realized that it is when we are hurting the most, it is the most important time to forgive, but also the hardest. In Buddhist teachings the path of happiness and peace comes through understanding suffering. Mistakes in the past are often a cause of suffering in the present. In order to gain happiness we must strive to understand and have compassion for the things in life that cause us suffering.
In order to forgive past mistakes, it is essential that you accept them as an inevitable part of the human experience and shift your perspective to viewing all past mistakes as an opportunity to develop strategies to increase your happiness and peace.
Forgetting occurs over time, as you forgive your mind releases the emotional attachment to events. For me, forgiveness takes practice, and this forgiveness practice helps to realign me with my heart center in meditation every time!
Create a sacred space to begin your practice. The practice of forgiveness is one that requires an environment of reverence. This is an environment in which it is easiest for you to connect to your highest self. A sacred space should be clear, quiet and free from distractions.
Think about all people in your life that you may have caused harm to. With your eyes closed, allow yourself to imagine the faces of those people. Repeat this statement, “to those whom I may have caused harm, knowingly or unknowingly, through my thoughts, words and actions, I ask your forgiveness.”
Think about the people that have caused you harm. With your eyes closed, visualize the faces of these people. Repeat the following statement, “to those who may have caused me harm, knowingly or unknowingly, through their thoughts, words and actions, I offer my forgiveness.”
Think about the things you do to cause yourself harm. Visualize these things you do in your mind. Repeat the following statement, “for any harm I may have caused myself, knowingly or unknowingly, through my thoughts, words and actions, I offer my forgiveness.”
This exercise is most effective when done as part of a daily meditative or spiritual practice. To aid in developing a practice, create your sacred space in a quiet corner of your home that is easily accessed early in the morning or at night. Create a daily ritual of going to your sacred space, lighting a candle and practicing forgiveness.
I have found that practicing forgiveness daily has been key for me moving through the most difficult times in my life without shutting my heart down. It was hard. There were many days that I really felt like I failed. But, after having moved through the hardest times, this forgiveness practice has helped me to keep my heart warm and open. When you have moved through a difficult experience or period or when your body is weak or tired, focus first on replenishing your own energy supplies with adequate rest, nutrition and exercise.
Forgiveness is at the center of a healthy relationship with yourself and all others in your life. Every day is a new opportunity to forgive, and let go. Everyday that I practice, I feel like I let go of energy I didn’t even realize I was holding onto. Just setting the intention to forgive has really opened me up to realizing how much forgiveness I really had to do. I have been accepting this gift lately as the greatest gift I could receive! I invite you to incorporate this practice into your own meditation time!
“If the Buddha Married: Creating Enduring Relationships on a Spiritual Path”; Charlotte Kasl
The Power of Forgiveness; Forgiveness and Buddhism; Anh-Huong
Dharma Wisdom; Forgiveness Practice; Phillip Moffit;
“Forgiveness: Theory, Research, and Practice”; Michael E. McCullough, Kenneth I. Pargament, Carl E. Thoresen; 2001