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The Art of Forgiveness A Gesture That Can Heal

Last year I was blessed to be invited to Tasmania, Australia to teach healing classes and to offer private sessions. During that quiet retreat time half way around the world I entered into a process of deep reflection and received some wonderful insights about the art of forgiveness. They have truly blessed my life, and I would like to share them with you.

Many people look at forgiveness as the most selfless act one can do for another human being. From my view point it is totally for the benefit of the giver! When we hold on to resentment, anger, sadness, fear, or hatred it can literally weigh us down with negativity. We are unable to truly move forward into the future with peace and clarity of direction. Sometimes our physical health suffers as well, leaving us in chronic pain and discomfort. Then all of our actions seem to have a dark cloud over them. That is because our bodies, minds, and spirits are blocked by unresolved traumas from the past. The act of forgiveness releases those old thought patterns and emotions and clears the way for self healing and restoration.

So why do people hang on to these negative emotions? One reason is that they might feel they are right in the conflict, and therefore justified in their emotional reactions. Another reason is that they could feel that if they let go of the negativity they will somehow let go of the memory of the incident, and no one will know the wrong that was done to them. Or maybe they feel a sense of empowerment by keeping those negative reactions alive as the result of an apparently powerless situation. Whatever the case, those negative emotions only continue to harm the person thinking them. The other people involved probably have moved on with their lives, and don’t give it a second thought! Just remember, when you forgive another you will never forget the incident, but you will dramatically release your emotional attachment to it. It is like saying, “Okay, it happened. I will never forget. But I set myself free of this unbearable emotional burden I have been carrying around, so I can get on with my life.”

When you forgive, you set yourself free.

Many times people want to forgive but their minds hold them into unrelenting negative patterns. Forgiveness takes a change of action, and takes practice. I suggest you try writing a “poison pen letter” to those who have wronged you. You will never mail it to them, but it will be used as a process to let go of your emotional attachment surrounding the situation. Sit down with a pen and paper and write down all of your feelings that you have about the incident and the people involved. Let go of all stops. Use expletives if needed! The idea is to let loose of all the feelings that you have been holding on to and get them out. No one but you is going to see this letter, and you will probably feel whole a lot better afterwards. When you have finished writing and feel released, take the letter, tear it up and throw it away. Imagine all of those negative feelings dissolving, until you are free of them. This process may take a few times, but each act of release will be rewarded with greater insight into the situation, and finally, and act of forgiveness itself.

The more you release those negative emotions, the more you will know when it is time to forgive and let go. I suggest setting aside a quiet space for yourself to consciously begin the forgiveness process. Make sure you have no distractions, such as children, pets, or phone calls. Sit down and close your eyes. Take deep breaths and relax. Keep your feet flat on the ground. Imagine breathing in light through your nostrils, and breathing out all negativity through your mouth. Continue to do so for several breaths, and then just breathe normally through your nose. When you are ready, imagine calling to you the person or persons that have hurt you. Then look into their eyes, one by one. With your heart leading the way, tell them your feelings and that you forgive them and set them free. Imagine them turning around, and walking away towards the Light.

The next step in the forgiveness process is to call to you the person or persons that you have knowingly hurt or betrayed through your actions. Again, with your heart leading the way, look into their eyes one at a time and tell them that you are truly sorry and ask for forgiveness. Then let them go into the Light too. Keep doing this process until no one else comes to mind.

The last step in the process, and the most important, is to forgive yourself for any past actions. Sit with this for a while until you feel fully renewed. Then slowly open your eyes, and realize you are free to begin a new life without any emotional strings tying you down. Repeat this process as much as necessary.

As you become more adept at the Art of Forgiveness, you will notice that situations may arise that you can forgive right away. You will be able to release your anger, hatred, fears, resentments, or dissatisfactions much sooner that before. You may feel happier in your life, and ready to try new, creative endeavors. Old worries may seem to vanish, being replaced by more peace in your life. Remember, the more you practice forgiveness the easier it becomes. And good luck with your journey.

Ilani Kopiecki, BA, CMT & IET is a CranioSacral Therapist and Therapeutic Massage Practitioner here in Sandpoint. She maintains her practice at Stepping Stones Wellness Center.

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