“If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man’s sorrow and suffering enough to disarm hostility.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The holiday season is upon us, bringing with it get-togethers with family and dear ones. While there can be much joy in these gatherings, we can get triggered. Old memories of how we have been hurt and the ways we have hurt others can rise up in our minds and hearts. We might go into our old default mode of reacting, trying to protect our hearts. Ways we are currently hurting or causing hurt in our relationships can also come to light. The familiar anger, resentment, and shame that we carry with us can surface, dampening our joy and closing off our hearts.
Forgiveness is rarely something we talk about bringing into our everyday lives. The pace of our days keeps us busy , preventing us from ever giving attention to the hurts that inevitably happen in our relationships. Often our busyness is a way of pushing away what is painful. Yet left unattended, these hurts accumulate and impact how we relate to ourselves and our dear ones. They weave their way into our bodies, minds and hearts – literally influencing our physiology, mood, thoughts, and expression of genes.
Why do we avoid practicing forgiveness? We think that the shame, anger, sadness or grief is too painful and will consume us if we bring these feelings to light. We may also think that forgiving ourselves or others is impossible – there’s just too much there and it seems too heavy, too hard, and too complicated. Finally, we might believe that forgiveness means we condone what has happened and we will have to let go of healthy boundaries.
Yet, practicing forgiveness is true healing balm. When we learn to skillfully bring the light of mindfulness and compassion into our present moment experience, we find that such presence actually fortifies us. We see that our old ways of avoiding pain and protecting our hearts have left us weary and no closer to being truly happy. We discover that forgiveness in everyday ways opens and strengthens our hearts. We find ourselves able to stop running and finally feel a sense of peace. Clarity, wise action, and freedom arise. We feel more aligned with how we know we want to live.
Next Wednesday, December 11, we will introduce a Mind-Body Connections workshop featuring a gentle, nourishing meditation to begin to safely, slowly and skillfully practice forgiveness. I will lead us through a forgiveness meditation that you can practice on your own in the weeks to come. I will also show you a simple way of addressing “everyday kinds of hurts” in the moment and at the end of the day so that your heart can remain open, alive, and compassionate.
Please join us. Click here to register.
I hope this workshop supports you in truly enjoying the holiday season with a lighter, liberated heart.