This past weekend wrapped up our month long focus on forgiveness. It was an overwhelming month to be sure. I owe a huge piece of gratitude to my sweet friend Nicole Martin for her inspiration to bring this project to Greenville. The art installation hanging in the studio gave the classes at Augusta Road an entirely different feel. All of a sudden our yoga room turned into a sanctuary that held all these people’s big, worldly stories of forgiveness. Each story entirely unique. Each story a different piece of the journey toward forgiveness.
Our celebration allowed us to bring some light to forgiveness and some funds to Julie Valentine Center. The silent auction alone raised $4,000. Heather Marshall (formerly Magruder) led a writing workshop on forgiveness. From what I heard it was life changing. One woman wrote a blog about how she couldn’t believe all she had to pay was a small donation for such a powerful workshop. Then came our visit from Therese Bartholomew, author and filmmaker of “the Final Gift.” It is clear that her suffering and struggle came to help her find her gift in life. Therese’s story and presence was overwhelming. She asked each one of us to really see everyone we meet as human and to do what we can to invite forgiveness into our own lives and into our justice system. She is an inspiration.
To close the month, I was honored to lead a forgiveness and yoga workshop. This focused on forgiveness of those smaller wounds- the ones that often define us. I had a request from students to post some of the thoughts and quotes I shared on Sunday. So here they are. May the inspire you on your own personal journey of forgiveness…
Since brokenness is the way of folks, the only way to live peacefully is to forgive everyone constantly, including yourself. ~Glennon Doyle from Carry On Warrior, Thoughts on Life Unarmed
What is forgiveness?
- letting go of our wounded-ness
- releasing hurt
- knowing we are all capable of being on the other side; those same seeds exist in us
What is not forgiveness?
- life without boundaries
- empty words
- holding on too tightly
Forgiveness, Reconciliation or Justice?
- “Forgiveness and reconciliation is not the same thing. One enables us to move beyond the past. The other restores a relationship. The relationship is seldom as important as the restoration of inner peace that comes with recognizing the past is the past.” ~Joan Chittister from God’s Tender Mercy, Reflections of Forgiveness
- we often confuse forgiveness with reconciliation and justice
- forgiveness is all about the self rather than a response to actions of another
A few things to consider:
- getting hurt often exposes a wound that already exists in us
- as we let go of our own storylines we get hurt less and less
- the past is defined differently according to everyone– as we replay the story it gets bigger, or we focus on different parts; when we discover the past is often a mental construct of our own design, we can let go a little bit more
- consciousness will go wherever there is a disturbance (pain, emotion, disturbed energy)– instead of allowing consciousness to go to the wound and block your energy flow, practice letting go (falling behind the energy of a thought versus going into it)
- if we can relax and release (or practice Vipasana meditation) we become more aware of how our own habits of mind are what create the hurts and re-injure us again and again
- the struggle is often the path– if we can find our lesson and free ourselves from rigidity and delusion we can find freedom in the midst of struggle; forgiveness becomes a bit easier when we learn from the struggle; eventually we can thank the person for bringing that struggle into our lives
The importance of self-forgiveness:
- we have to learn to let ourselves “off the hook” and allow ourselves to be imperfect
- we have to use the same process as Vipasana meditation- pause (mind), soften (body), connect (with the heart or the present moment)
- if you make a mistake you can try repeating “forgiven, forgiven, forgiven”; it often gives me a moment to breathe and not be so hard on myself
- try saying “how human of me” when you do mess up
- let go of the idea / delusion of perfection
The inability to forgive another almost certainly arises out of an inability to forgive ourselves. When we refuse to give ourselves permission to be anything but perfect… we are certainly unable to forgive anyone else. ~Joan Chittister from God’s Tender Mercy, Reflections on Forgiveness