A Year To Live Part 2 – An effective technique to forgive people that have hurt you
Newsletter, January 2017
Dearest Quiet Evolutionary,
In this newsletter, I’m going to share with you the second practice in this series ‘A Year To Live’.
But first, whatever you are doing right now, I invite you to take a moment to PAUSE.
I am going to walk with you hand-in-hand through the techniques behind my current mantra:
Stop. Breathe. Love
Please treat reading the following words as a meditation in itself.
So take a moment to check-in with your state of mind right now. Does it feel clear or foggy or somewhere in-between? Whatever you notice, just accepting it as it is.
Now, turn your attention to your breathing. Notice now how your breathing happens all by itself. Its been happening since the moment you were born, and will continue until the moment you die. It is the animating force within you. And you don’t need to do anything to control it right now. Effortless.
Now, place your hand on your heart and feel a connection to the space of compassion within you. There is a basic warmth and openness that is your true nature. Its called Love. If you struggle to connect to that feeling, bring to mind someone you know who is suffering right now. Notice what feelings arise in your heart. If possible, make a commitment to support that person today.
So that is the basic technique behind the mantra:
Stop. Breathe. Love
I hope you find it useful today and any moment when you need to reconnect to your true, peaceful, loving nature.
Last week, I sent you the first in a series of practices called ‘A Year To Live’.
The idea is very simple…
We put important things off.
We convince ourselves we have more time. We can keep putting important things off until tomorrow our whole lives…until there are no more tomorrows.
The best way to overcome this self-delusion we all suffer from is to bring an awareness of your own mortality to the foreground. This is why the practices I am sharing with you are grounded in a total acceptance that this year may indeed be the last year we have to live. If it were, what would you do?
By the way, if you think this kind of thing is ‘morbid’, just consider for a moment that this response might be a defence from the part of you that is terrified of leaving this earth-bound existence without having given fully of your gift. From my experience, maintaining an awareness that this life is finite and therefore precious is the single most life-affirming practice I know.
If you missed last week’s newsletter, you can read it here. The practice I shared was about making a simple list of moments when people have been kind to you. How did you get on?
Over the last 2 weeks, I have had some amazing interactions with people who have been kind to me. Some of these interactions took place in my head, as I recalled, for example, a moment in my first year at secondary school when a boy in the year above was bullying me, trying to stop me from getting off the bus, and a boy two years older than me at school came in and shielded me, helping me get off the bus. This moment came into my mind as I meditated on these instances of kindness, and so I imagined thanking the boy who protected me and said an appreciative good-bye.
The second practice in this series is about forgiving people who have hurt you.
Why would you want to do this if you had a year to live? Well, holding onto resentment and bitterness prevents you from living and ultimately from dying in peace and love. This is a physiological truth, not just a metaphysical one. Studies show that extended feelings of anger, bitterness or resentment can affect our immune system, our organ function and our metabolism. Each time we replay in our minds the original event that offended us, the stress hormone cortisol is released into our bloodstream. You can read more about the science here.
So if you want to live, and ultimately die, in peace, I invite you to try the following steps:
1. Take a few moments to run through in your mind any memories where you are still holding onto some resentment. Some memories may be obvious, some will be buried a little deeper down. You will find that once you open the door to this reflective process, some older memories containing energies of resentment will pop up to say hello. Say HELLO back:) These memories are your heart’s way of showing you that it longs to be free from grief.
2. Make a list of these moments or people who have hurt you deeply enough to warrant the effort to forgive. It can help to use a 1-to-10 scale: How much pain do I have regarding the way this person treated me? (with 1 being the least amount of pain and 10 being the most pain).
3. Recognise the venom: Start with the person/incident with the lowest score. Recognize the effect on your thoughts, feelings, behaviours that not forgiving this person/incident has been having on your life. Wayne Dyer compares resentment to being like a snakebite: it’s not the bite that kills, but the venom that keeps circulating around the bloodstream. So the effect that not forgiving is having on your life is the ‘venom’.
4. Make a strong decision to forgive: It is important to remember that forgiving is not forgetting. By choosing forgivenness, you are choosing to release yourself from suffering. We can do this, and at the same time hold someone to account for their actions. Make a strong decision to forgive, knowing that this is for your own peace.
5. A moment of empathy: to forgive deeply, we need to consider this: if we had lived exactly the same life as the person who hurt us, can we be 100% sure that we wouldn’t have acted in the same way? Consider the wounds that person suffered in their own life, the pressures and stresses they may have been going through at the time they hurt you. Notice any movement in your heart, that warm, open feeling of empathy.
6. Think of a gift and release the venom: is there a gesture, real or visualised, that you could extend to this person as a symbol of your forgivennes. It might be thinking or speaking kindly of them from now on. It might be calling them, texting them, writing them an email or letter. Of course, in many incidents we may not want or need to contact the person directly. For these incidents, you can imagine extending a gesture of forgivenness and then imagine that any venom that has been cirrculating in your system is released back into Mother Earth who just loves taking this heavy energy and turning it into sweet energy. It can also help to open a closed fist as you release the venom.
7. Gratitude for the lesson: what lesson has this incident or person taught you? Find a place in your heart to feel gratitude for the wisdom this person or incident has allowed you to cultivate.
This is definitely a more challenging practice then last week’s. But because it is challenging, it contains a greater potential for your own transformation. If you like science, then you will see that many elements of this practice have been taken from this evidence-based forgivennes practice. In other words, yes, it really works:)
Once you have gone through the list from lighter to heavier situations, you will feel a great shift in your heart, and a growing sense of inner peace. There is no need to rush this process. Just open that door marked ‘forgivennes’ in your heart, and go gently.
I am struck by the delicious irony that many people reading this will put this email in a file marked ‘tomorrow’.
Here are a couple of quotes to keep you inspired:
There are days when I wish I could erase all the horrors that I have witnessed from my mind. It seems that there is no end to the creative ways we humans can find to hurt each other, and no end to the reasons we feel justified in doing so. There is also no end to the human capacity for healing. In each of us there is an innate ability to create joy out of suffering, to find hope in the most hopeless of situations, and to heal any relationship that is in need of healing.
— Desmond Tutu, ‘The Book of Forgiving’
I realise there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.
– C. JoyBell C.
Sending All My Love
As ever, if you have any questions about this practice or anything else, then please do get in touch.