The Soulful Art of Forgiveness
It took me over fifty years to learn that forgiveness was about setting prisoners free and discovering that I was one of the prisoners. It was a time when I’d reached a pinnacle of success yet was still suffering from issues of insecurity and anger. I’d experienced decades of schooling, training in psychotherapy, years of supervision, was a practicing therapist and still suffered from mother issues. In a private session with myself, I tested a life regression meditation I’d purchased for others to personally experience it.
Through the headphones of this guided meditation I was taken into my mother’s world when she was a girl and young teenager. I witnessed the abuse, the fear and suffering, her protection of her three younger sisters and the psycho-spiritual injury it all caused. I saw events that shaped her life and how anger and fear had been thrust upon her and upon generations before her. In this inner work, I saw how her pain had become my pain and received the gift of forgiveness for her, myself and generations of victims.
In that solo therapeutic session I experienced more empathy and compassion for my mother, grandparents, all my relatives and people everywhere in all generations than ever before in my life. I realized on that day how we all go through great love, loss, pain and suffering and how it transforms us in both negative and positive ways. I also realized that awareness of these experiences and conscious forgiveness opens our hearts to smile and love again. For the most part however, we know not what we do.
Recognizing the pain, prosperity, loss and love in ourselves and others can open our hearts and minds to experience our own dignity and that of others. It can help us free ourselves and each another by widening our circle of love and appreciation; to embrace the whole creation in all its seasons of birth, life, death and new life. It allows us to see through the externals into the heart of the matter thereby recognizing the true Essence in all, how intertwined we are and the resilient creative capacities we share.
The soulful art of forgiveness engages a power larger than ourselves that’s also within ourselves. This allows us to venture in and through the unknown to discover our common unity in love and reverence as well as in fear and anxiety. The art is that of the alchemist who through inner awareness is able to transmute the dullness of lead into the brilliance of gold. This alchemical process gives us infinite choices and chances to make new beginnings. It promises new life as we choose to transcend and include.
In consciously giving and receiving Life with all its darkness and light, we awaken to the difficulties of the past and present while opening to the possibilities and potentialities of the present and future. We cast light on the darkness of Life’s many paintings to see the shadows and new contours that can be shaped from them. This gives attention to what we’re growing, discovering and creating. It’s also a refusal to contaminate the now with previous errors of judgement.
To begin again is to be reborn in a meta-physical way that can take place any moment of any day. It simply requires an inner shift to move beyond, to change, to transform, to transcend and comprehend in ways beyond where we’ve been. In my breakthrough moment in the above mentioned meditation, both joy and sadness showed up. I was joyful that a healing had taken place in me and saddened that I hadn’t seen Mom’s heart and loved her in ways that could have helped us both before she died.
To engage the soulful art of forgiveness is to awaken to a meta-awareness that never ends as long as we keep loving, receiving and giving ourselves to it with compassion, appreciation, reverence and empathy. It repairs the past and prepares the future as we live in its presence. It grows us beyond where we are, builds on the mistakes of the past while reconciling and inspiring us to create new transfigured futures. It may be the most important contribution to healing the global community we’ll ever make. . .
- In today’s meditation give yourself the gift of forgiveness for whatever you’re holding against yourself. Breathe in the love of Life and breathe out the anger, the fear, the anxiety and the regret. Look deeply into your heart of hearts and feel the love and acceptance that’s here forgiving you, comforting you, caring for you. Feel it deeply and take it in. Allow yourself this gift of acceptance, healing and harmony. . .
- When you’re able to experience the receptivity of this forgiveness, allow a reflection to come of someone you could give this same energy of forgiveness to. Visualize them. See their pain, there disconnections, their losses and defenses. Now look into their broken defended heart. Feel their longing for love and kindness. The change here is in you and how you’re going to relate to them from now on. Feel the compassion that comes to you and through you. Feel the reverence for Life in all its iterations. . .
- Take time this week to write in your journal about a soulful experience of forgiveness you’ve had. Notice the change that takes place in you. Notice how this soulful art applies to forgiving yourself as well as others. Experience letting go of the most obvious judgements, anxieties, regrets, blaming and shaming. Notice the ease or difficulty of letting go to let come the trust, acceptance, forgiveness, reverence and love for yourself and others. Remember to remember and practice this daily.
- When you go to bed this week and for as long as needed, wrap your arms around yourself and hold yourself as a loving mother holds a child. Love yourself to Life. . .