When I am trying to live healthily, whether exercising, eating right, or sleeping right, I am actively trying to create a better life and, ultimately, to feel better overall. However, while these things are essential, we also must remember that our mental health is just as important to our overall well-being. For example, if I am depressed, I am far less likely to exercise and way less likely to sleep or eat right.
This is where we will start to cover why forgiveness is vital to our overall health; physically, emotionally, and spiritually (connecting to the Universal order of things). This is NOT religious but rather a suggestion to be open-minded to mystical forces assisting in the forgiveness process.
When I look at the remarkable stories of forgiveness, I am astounded by the seeming miraculousness of it all. People who survived horrific acts live to tell their stories of forgiveness. There are even personal enrichment courses on this stuff folks!
Because the act of forgiveness is a process and not an overnight matter, be compassionate with yourself. Simple (we’re not gurus here!) meditation can help with this.
What is compassion meditation?
Known as Karuna Meditation, Compassion Meditation is deeply rooted in Buddhist philosophy and guides participants toward compassionate thoughts. It is a method for connecting with suffering — our own and others — and for awakening the inherent compassion in all of us.
Of course, the practice of compassion meditation typically begins with the development of self-compassion. Once we have a more solid foundation of self-compassion, we can begin cultivating compassion for others. The goal is to eventually feel connected to all beings and experience the world with an open heart.
There are many ways to meditate on compassion, but one common method is focusing on a particular person or situation. Start by picturing the person or situation in your mind and repeating a compassion mantra. The goal is not to fix or change the person or situation but simply to offer them kindness and understanding.
Some examples of compassion mantras are:
- “May you be happy”
- “May you be free from suffering”
- “May you be safe and protected”
- “May you be healthy and strong”
These bring to mind a phrase a friend shared with me if you are struggling with forgiveness, anger, or resentment:
- “I forgive you”
- “I release you”
- “I wish you no harm”
- “I send you love”
When we offer compassion to others, we open our hearts and minds and connect with our shared humanity. We begin to see the world differently and feel more connected to all beings. Compassion meditation can be a powerful tool for personal transformation and making the world a kinder and more compassionate place to live and be in.
What are the powers of forgiveness?
Practicing forgiveness can have powerful health benefits. Observational studies, and even some randomized trials, suggest that forgiveness is associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, and hostility, reduced substance abuse; higher self-esteem; and greater life satisfaction.
Additionally, forgiveness gives us the power to do things we thought we couldn’t do before because “they” hurt us with “ABC” so I can never do “ABC” again. What? No, that is not how this works! When we forgive, we open up the possibility for healthier relationships with others and ourselves. We also find it easier to cope with stress and manage our emotions more constructively.
Forgiveness is a choice. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it. You don’t have to forget what happened or excuse the person’s behavior. Instead, you’re simply choosing to let go of anger, resentment, and bitterness so you can move on with your life.
How can I practice forgiveness?
Here are some tips for practicing forgiveness:
- Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to grieve. It’s OK to be angry, hurt, or sad. You don’t have to pretend that everything is OK when it’s not.
- Identify the hurt. What exactly are you holding onto? Why is it so difficult to let go?
- Develop a forgiving attitude. Try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. Consider the possibility that they may have been going through a difficult time themselves. This is where we may be able to “see” our part in the situation.
- Practice kindness and compassion, both for yourself and the other person. See if you can find some understanding or empathy for what they may have been going through.
- Choose to let go of anger and resentment. Forgiveness is a choice, and it’s up to you to decide whether or not to forgive.
- Make a conscious effort to let go of the hurt. This may take some time, but it’s essential to keep working at it.
- Focus on the present rather than dwelling on the past.
- Set boundaries as needed. Forgiving someone does not mean you have to continue allowing them to hurt you. It’s important to set boundaries and take care of yourself first and foremost.
Forgiveness is integral to self-care and can be a powerful tool for personal transformation.
Sometimes during this forgiveness process, we might start to recognize that we too played a part in the “hurting.” A journey into self-discovery and seeing how we participated opens up much more growth, empathy, and compassion for ourselves and the other person. From this space of deep understanding, forgiveness comes more easily because we can see the humanity in everyone involved.
A friend sent me this quote recently after I was inquiring about forgiveness:
“Forgiveness is not a matter of exonerating people who have hurt you. They may not deserve exoneration. Forgiveness means cleansing your soul of the bitterness of ‘what might have been’, ‘what should have been’ and “what didn’t have to happen’. Someone has defined forgiveness as ‘giving up all hope of having a better past’. What’s past is past, and there is little to be gained by dwelling on it. There are perhaps no sadder people than those who have a grievance against a world because of something that happened years ago and have let that memory sour their view of life ever since.” – Rabbi Harold S Kushner
Forgiveness is an essential part of life. When we choose to let go of anger, resentment, and bitterness, we can move on with our lives. When we forgive, we open up the possibility for healthier relationships with others and ourselves. We also find it easier to cope with stress and manage our emotions in a more constructive way.
If you’re struggling to forgive someone, it’s OK to seek professional help. A therapist or spiritual guide can provide guidance and support as you work through your feelings and learn to let go.
Why is forgiveness important?
Wikipedia states: forgiveness, in a psychological sense, is the intentional and voluntary process by which one who may initially feel victimized or wronged goes through a change in feelings and attitude regarding a given offender and overcomes the impact of the offense, including negative emotions such as resentment and a desire for vengeance (however justified it might be).
In conclusion, forgiveness is important to our lives, personal relationships, work relationships, our relationship with the “world” as it is not as we want it to be, and how we see ourselves. When we find compassion and understanding – for ourselves and others – the healing process of forgiveness can begin and you will be set free from the bondage of resentments.