A recent article in the National Press, about the awesome way the parents of a murdered man reacted to this terrible tragedy stopped me in my tracks. Rather than decrying his, yet uncaught, murderers, and calling for retribution, they took a very different stand. They moved into print to say that they forgave his killers! Can you envision it? Could you, just a couple days after a gang of muggers brutally murdered your son, talk to the media and state that you forgave them? Thankfully, I’ve never been in this awful place but I believe I would have great trouble doing the identical thing.
It might be a laudable idea but is it really possible? Yet what are the choices? Hatred, resentment, even revenge! How can that help the individual I’ve lost or me? I once read a post that said, once we do not forgive, we condemn ourselves to a life sentence in addition to those our anger is directed against! If that does not stop you in your tracks, think about the consequences. There’s more and more evidence coming out regarding the self-destructive effects of negative emotions.
Our immune system is suppressed and our blood pressure increased, and that is just for starters. Perhaps holding on to these feelings should carry a government health warning! So what’s forgiveness? Surely, it’s more than an intellectual idea. If we truly forgive, then shouldn’t we act in particular ways? I’ve been thinking about it and it appears to be that “letting go” is in the heart of forgiveness. I have often witnessed family and friends say that they forgive a friend or loved one for a few insult or slight, and then they keep talking about it at every chance to anyone who would listen!
This doesn’t feel like forgiveness to me! Up to now, I have been talking about bias directed towards others, but how about implementing it to ourselves! Guilt is something which we’ve all felt at some time or another yet it appears to me that it’s purely the product of too little self-forgiveness. If we keep beating ourselves up for making a poor decision in the past how can this help us? Surely, we will need to learn the lesson and proceed. OK, by now you might be thinking, I really need to practice forgiveness but I do not know how.
Well do not worry, you’re in good company. There are a lot of diverse exercises and approaches to forgiveness and we do not have the time to cover all of them here but I will share one which I find especially helpful. It comes in the Ancient Hawaiian healing tradition named Hoona. In mind, imagine a stage or podium.
Now invite onto that point anybody who has caused you harm, insult, disappointment, hurt or despair, one at a time. As each individual comes onto the stage, take your time and visualise them in as much detail as possible. Now imagine a cable coming out of your solar plexus, linking you to the person on stage. Imagine sending pure forgiveness and love down that cord and after doing this, see yourself cutting the cord and letting the connection with another person to draw back into yourself. Feel the feeling of release that accompanies this action.
Allow the possibility that you might re-connect with this individual at a new and better way now or later on. Repeat this procedure for everyone you want to invite on the point and remember that you’re permitted to do this procedure with yourself too! Forgiveness is simple but it’s not straightforward! I feel that the benefits are enormous but we will need to practice it on a daily basis, beginning with ourselves. If we practice enough the procedure becomes habitual and we could replicate the advantages in terms of better health, better relationships and much more energy.