Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Forgiveness Meditation

In yesterday's posting, I discussed how powerful the practice of forgiveness has been in my life. Below is a Meditation on Forgiveness from A Path With Heart: The Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life by Jack Kornfield (1993, pp. 284 - 286, Bantam, NY). This formal practice can be included as part of your daily sitting meditation.

I think it's important to remember two things about forgiveness meditation: 1) Forgiveness does not mean we condone harmful behavior by others or ourselves. It does mean that we are taking a step toward letting go of long-held hurt, anger, and resentment. 2) Forgiveness can be a long process and it should not be forced. Remember that we are extending forgiveness only to the extent that we are able to in this moment.
Forgiveness From Others

There are many ways that I have hurt and harmed others, betrayed or abandoned them, caused them suffering, knowingly or unknowingly, out of my pain, fear, anger, and confusion.

Let yourself remember and visualize these many ways you have hurt others. See and feel the pain you have caused out of your own fear and confusion. Feel your own sorrow and regret, and sense that finally you can release this burden and ask for forgiveness. Picture each memory that still burdens your heart, and then, one by one, repeat:

I ask your forgiveness, I ask your forgiveness...

Forgiveness for Yourself

There are many ways that I have betrayed, harmed, or abandoned myself through thought, word, or deed, knowingly or unknowingly.

Let yourself see the ways you have hurt or harmed yourself. Picture them, remember them, visualize them. Feel the sorrow you have carried from all these actions, and sense that you can release these burdens, extending forgiveness for them one by one. Then say to yourself:

For each of the ways I have hurt myself through action or inaction, out of my fear, pain, and confusion, I now extend a full and heartfelt forgiveness. I forgive myself. I forgive myself...

Forgiveness for Those Who have Hurt or Harmed You

There are many ways I have been wounded or hurt, abused and abandoned by others in thought, word, or deed, knowingly or unknowingly.

Let yourself picture them, remember them, visualize these many ways. Feel the sorrow you have carried from this past and sense that you can release yourself from this burden by extending forgiveness if your heart is ready. Now say to yourself:

In the many ways others have hurt or harmed me, out of fear, pain, confusion, and anger, I see these now. To the extent that I am ready, I offer them forgiveness. I have carried this pain in my heart too long. For this reason, to those who have caused me harm, I offer you my forgiveness. I forgive you.

Let yourself gently repeat these three direction for forgiveness until you can feel a release in your heart. Perhaps for some great pains you may not feel a release, but only the burden and the anguish or anger that you have held. Touch this softly. Be forgiving of yourself as well. Forgiveness cannot be forced; it cannot be artificial. Simply continue to practice, and let the words and images work gradually in their own way.

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