“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” — Buddha
Is there anyone in your life you cannot forgive? Once upon a time, there were such people in my life. Oh, how upset, hurt, and angry I was then. The reason for why I felt like that was because of two consecutive experiences that occurred in different areas of my life. You would never believe how long I carried that extremely intense anger in my heart. When I went to hospital for a general checkup later on, I learned I had two large stones in my gall bladder. It wasn’t surprising when I read that the mental causes of gallstone are bitterness and condemnation.
There was only one way to peace and relief for me. Those who hurt me should be hurt and damaged in return. Their hearts should also be broken, and they should remember the injustices they did to me. They should feel grief, and they must feel regret thousands of times. This was the sort of justice I had in mind.
However, I didn’t take into account how our souls are not designed to carry such intense anger. So, after a year and a half, my soul could no longer handle it. Despite my anger not diminishing even a little, I was so sick of living in my rage that I needed to do something.
A friend of mine told me she was applying Reiki for self-healing and found it helpful. I thought what had helped her could also help me, so I decided to take Reiki instruction, and then my adventure began.
The Reiki master told me that my heart chakra had begun to shrink and advised me to direct Reiki especially at my heart. I did as she instructed, and almost every day, I applied Reiki to myself. Doing something for myself gave me peace of mind, and I felt a little relieved, but I wanted to do more. Even if the pain was diminishing, the anger still remained in all its glory.
After a while, I participated in another training session given by my Reiki master. At the very beginning, she asked us, “Is there anybody in your life whom you cannot forgive?”
Many people, including myself, answered by raising hands. My master continued, “Forgive! If you want to attract abundance and prosperity to your life, you should forgive. There is no other way!”
We all reacted to this. After experiencing so much sadness and a lack of abundance and prosperity, as if this was not enough, we now had to forgive! Ha! What kind of justice was this? It was certainly not acceptable, whatever it was.
“Hatred is a very strong bond. If you don’t break this bond, you cannot stay free. If you want to stay free, you have to forgive,” my master explained.
So, how would this work?
She continued, “The only thing you need do is sincerely forgive from your heart.” She taught us a form of meditation forgiveness and suggested we repeat it every day until we felt we had totally forgiven. The good news was we didn’t need to forgive the other parties to their faces, nor did we need to contact them or include them in our lives again.
I reluctantly tried it, and as I took steps toward this path, the universe prepared some nice surprises for me. I continued to go forward without looking back.
Based on what I could observe from my experience, I can summarize the phases of forgiveness as follows:
- You feel intense anger and show extreme opposition to forgiveness.
- You intend to forgive.
- You verbally say you forgive.
- You forgive with your heart.
- Even when you forgive, the past still hurts.
- The past ceases to hurt anymore.
- You become aware of the spiritual gifts and the greatest goods behind the past, and you accept it was good to have happened so.
- You make peace with the past so much that you can even console the person you forgave (at least if you are still in contact with them and they feel guilty toward you).
- You share the experience with others easily
- You intend on always being unconditionally forgiving from now on.
Forgiveness is inevitable. Do you know why? It’s because when someone causes us to suffer, we first blame ourselves and cannot forgive ourselves for the things we let happen to us. We say, “How could I be such a fool? How could I let it happen? Why could I not prevent this? Why could I not anticipate this? Where did I go wrong?”
That’s why we should forgive ourselves deeply and completely first. I have compiled some forgiveness meditation exercises for you below. I hope they will be helpful.
Anger and hatred are such heavy burdens that when you carry them on your back, your eyes lower from the pain and difficulty. Even if you try to move on regardless, you cannot see the way ahead. You cannot be sure where you are going, and the only solution is to rid yourself of these burdens. Your eyes will then open, and you’ll finally see the truth.
“He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.”
You will find several forgiveness exercises below that I have compiled from various sources. You can also find many others on the Internet. Choose the method that suits you best and apply it. Never give up until you completely forgive everyone. Remember, to forgive yourself and others is the most precious gift you can give to yourself. Believe that you really deserve it.
1. Forgiveness exercises from “You Can Heal your Life” by Louise Hay (quoted):
Those on the spiritual pathway know the importance of forgiveness. For some of us, there is a step that is necessary before we can totally forgive. Sometimes the little kid in us needs to have revenge before it is free to forgive. For that, this exercise is very helpful.
Close your eyes, sit quietly and peacefully. Think of the people who are hardest to forgive. What would you really like to do to them? What do they need to do to get your forgiveness? Imagine that happening now. Get into the details. How long do you want them to suffer or do penance?
When you feel complete, condense time and let it be over forever. Usually at this point, you feel lighter, and it is easier to think about forgiveness. To indulge in this every day would not be good for you. To do it once as a closing exercise can be freeing.
There is an old Emmet Fox exercise for dissolving resentment that always works. He recommends that you sit quietly, close your eyes, and allow your mind and body to relax. Then, imagine yourself sitting in a darkened theater, and in front of you is a small stage.
On that stage, place the person you resent the most. It could be someone from the past or present, living or dead. When you see this person clearly, visualize good things happening to this person, things that would be meaningful to her. See her smiling and happy.
Hold this image for a few minutes, and then let it fade away. I like to add another step. As this person leaves the stage, put yourself up there. See good things happening to you. See yourself smiling and happy. Be aware that the abundance of the Universe is available to all of us.
The above exercise dissolves the dark clouds of resentment most of us carry. For some, it will be very difficult to do. Each time you do it, you may get a different person. Do it once a day for a month, and notice how much lighter you feel.
Now, we are ready to forgive. Do this exercise with a partner if you can, or do it out loud if you are alone.
Again, sit quietly with your eyes closed and say, “The person I need to forgive is ___________ and I forgive you for ___________.”
Do this over and over. You will have many things to forgive some for, and only one or two to forgive others for. If you have a partner, let him say to you, “Thank you, I set you free now.” If you do not, then imagine the person you are forgiving saying it to you. Do this for at least five or ten minutes. Search your heart for the injustices you still carry. Then let them go.
When you have cleared as much as you can for now, turn your attention to yourself. Say out loud to yourself, “I forgive myself for ___________.”
Do this for another five minutes or so. These are powerful exercises and good to do at least once a week to clear out any remaining rubbish. Some experiences are easy to let go and some we have to chip away at, until suddenly one day they let go and dissolve. — Louise Hay
2. Meditation to forgive others
Close your eyes and sit comfortably. Take a few deep breaths, and imagine the person you’ve decided to forgive. Look at this person and say the following, either aloud or mentally:
I intend to forgive you.
I accept forgiving you.
I forgive you.
I forgive myself.
You’re free. I’m free
I’m sending my best thoughts.
I release you.
I forgive you.
Now imagine pink lights spreading from your heart and reflecting your loving, candid feelings. Intensify them and send them through the other person’s heart. These lights create a huge bubble of pink light that surrounds him or her. Imagine this person in the bubble of pink light and maintain this image in your mind for a while. Now approach the person and give him or her a warm hug. Say once more, “I forgive you” and observe the change on the person’s face. Take a deep breath and open your eyes.
Keep on repeating this meditation every day until you feel you have completely forgiven that person.
3. Meditation to forgive yourself
Close your eyes and sit comfortably. Take a few deep breaths, and imagine yourself bringing your entire body in front of you. Look into your own eyes and say loudly or mentally the following:
I intend to forgive you.
I accept forgiving you.
I accept everything you do and how you live.
Everything you’ve experienced is from your own choices.
Every decision you’ve made is by your own choice.
I accept you with all your decisions and choices.
You do not need to be accepted by anyone else.
I accept you.
I accept that everything you have experienced has been for your spiritual development.
I release you.
I love you.
I forgive you.
Now, picture pink lights spreading from your own heart toward yourself and intensify them. These lights create a huge bubble of pink light that surrounds your body. Imagine yourself in this bubble of pink light and keep this image in your mind for a while. Now go beside yourself and give yourself a warm hug. Next, tell yourself, “I love you and I forgive you.” Take a deep breath and then open your eyes.
Keep repeating this meditation every day until you feel you have completely forgiven yourself.
“Only the brave know how to forgive. A coward never forgave; it is not in his nature.” —Laurence Sterne