“If you are really paying attending and really ready to heal, the day will come when you recognize that forgiveness is the only way back to the center of your innocence.“ ~ Iyanla Vanzant
Generating a mutual flow of forgiveness renews connection, enhances the sharing of vulnerabilities, and heightens intimacy in our relationships. It is at the core of every soul-hearted relationship, and is an essential dimension of being love.
Forgiveness is the willingness to let go of any resentment, judgment, or grievance toward someone who has injured us. It has two essential parts: a release of negative feelings previously held toward the person who has offended us, and an engagement in positive feelings toward that person.
Since we all engage in human interactions on a daily basis, relationship injuries are unavoidable. Forgiveness is a powerful way to heal such injuries. Even though this practice has been encouraged in religious tradition for years, today it is increasingly discussed in the mainstream global media as a means for facilitating healing and peace. Forgiving a person for harm they caused us―and, likewise, making amends for hurting someone―are positive acts that can sustain loving relationships and deter alienation and loneliness.
Research on forgiveness suggests that, because it helps us sustain our connectedness with others, it has considerable physical and mental health benefits. Forgiveness also promotes our well-being because it encourages the release of negative emotions, such as anger, resentment, or the desire for revenge. The act of blessing and releasing a person or situation assists us in letting go of our past, appreciating the present more fully, and orienting us toward the future.
The more we open our hearts in compassion, the more we can forgive. This idea hit home for me recently when I was finally able to put my first marriage to rest and spiritually complete my relationship with my son’s father. Twenty-two years after Tom and I were divorced, he invited me to breakfast without first telling me why he wanted to meet. I graciously accepted his invitation.
As we were sitting at the table reflecting on the many accomplishments of our son, Tom gazed at me, took a deep breath, and said, “The main reason I wanted to meet today was to share with you that I’m an alcoholic.”
He proceeded to tell me he had completed a chemical dependency treatment program and now wanted to make amends for not having been present in our relationship, as well as take full responsibility for his part in our breakup. Stunned by his honesty and sincerity, I suddenly became aware of residual feelings of hurt within me. Releasing them, I forgave him for his lack of accountability all these years, and together we forgave the past. This experience showed me that it is never too late to forgive and release the past.
Even today, I continue to unearth layers of pain. In instances where my hurt, disappointment, or sadness resurfaces, it becomes necessary to repeat the practice to clear these subtle layers. I know I have finally forgiven someone when I could think of them without experiencing any negative reaction.
Forgiveness as a spiritual practice is an act of love in which we focus energy through our heart center, and bless and release anything that does not align with who we truly are. The heart becomes an energetic clearinghouse that transforms grievance and resentment into love and compassion, and dissolves any emotional injury attached to the person or situation. By forgiving, and truly letting go we make the past powerless over our lives.
Ultimately, there is no resentment, grievance or hurt that cannot be transformed by forgiveness. And the more we forgive ourselves the easier it is to forgive others. To forgive takes an open heart, loving-compassion, and a detachment from specific outcomes. The greater outcome is widely recognized: acts of forgiveness free us from the past and sever the flow of negative energy toward others so that positive energy is returned to us, creating space in our hearts to love and be loved.
Mantra: Today I’m completely free of the past.