Lightening Your Load

April 10, 2009

image credit: alicepopkorn

The family members sat around the council fire and each person spoke in turn, regarding the fate of the young man sitting restlessly outside. He had murdered his friend, the son of the grieving family who now pronounced the death sentence in revenge. But Old Grandfather spoke up, “Will killing him feed our people? Let us look at this matter carefully” The family deliberated through the night, then they called the young man to his fate. They told him that the tepee and the horses that belonged to the dead man now belonged to him; that he was now their son and he was to take the place of the man he killed. He became a devoted son and by the time he died, he was known by all the tribes as the model of a loving son.

This is a true story that happened in the late nineteenth century in a Native American tribe as it was told to Gary Zukav by Brown Bear. Our own stories may not be as dramatic, but we all have experiences where we had to forgive to lighten the burden of not forgiving. For when we do not forgive, our energy is tied up to the thing we are not able to forgive and  our creativity is hindered. Every time we hold on to a grudge, it is like putting a brick into a sack that we carry on our own backs. After a while it becomes too unbearable for us, even though the perpetrators of our hurts may be walking around lightly. And just as we become tired, achy and grumpy from carrying around a heavy load, not forgiving the past can cause us physical, mental and emotional dis-ease. It is essential to forgive for our health and well-being. Not only do we need to forgive others but also ourselves. For all the times we have been angry at ourselves for not doing the right thing, for failing, for all the ways we feel disappointment in unmet goals etc.

Forgiveness is a choice, one which we would be wise to make, for in every circumstance no matter how difficult or justified, the willingness to determine our own freedom from suffering is ours to initiate. So how do we go about forgiving? First we must understand what it means. Many of us do not forgive because we misunderstand what it truly means.

  • Forgiveness does not mean that we condone what was done.
  • It does not mean that we forget what was done. We need to remember so that we do not let it happen again.
  • It does not mean that we have to reconcile with the person we are forgiving. We do not have to remain in contact with the person who has hurt us and can continue to hurt us.
  • Forgiveness does not depend on an apology from the perpetrator or that they change their ways, otherwise they will continue to hold power over us indefinitely.
  • Forgiveness is recognizing the suffering of the past, the understanding of what brought about the act of the perpetrator. This is usually ignorance. Someone who has not healed their own pain, and consciously or unconsciously acts in the same way to hurt another.
  • Forgiveness is recognizing that we are sharing in the burden of the cosmic pain. We can choose to meet our pain with joy.
  • Forgiveness is about creating peace of mind for ourselves where we can heal the past and begin to trust others and ourselves again.
  • Without forgiveness we perpetuate the illusion that grudges can heal our pain or change the past for the better.

Forgiveness takes courage, clarity and compassion, it does not come easily nor does it happen quickly. Some people say forgive and forget, but it is not so superficial. It is a process that goes through many stages. We will be going through grief over our losses, anger, and sadness over our pain.   When we eventually make the choice to forgive,  we release the clutches of the past and let love enter our hearts again. We soften our bodies, our minds and our emotions. It is a process that we have to do over and over again until we can truly let go and become free of suffering. Here are some steps to take:

  • Have clarity as to  what about the situation is not okay.
  • Ask yourself what needs to happen for you to feel okay again.
  • Give that to the hurt part of yourself by visualization, whether it is acknowledgment of being hurt, to feel loved, to be told that you are now safe and protected etc.
  • Look for ways to get what you want, through acts of kindness to yourself and others, where love and beauty surround you, rather than playing out your grievance stories.
  • Remember that forgiveness is about your peace of mind, nobody else has to know about it.
  • Take charge of your reaction to what happened. It is about empowering yourself. Blame and grievance dis-empowers us by making others responsible for our feelings.
  • Let go of expectations of others and how they should behave so that you could be happy.
  • Recognize that your pain now is not caused by what happened in the past whether it was recent or long ago. It is the thoughts, the hurt feelings and physical holding about the past that you are now engaged in, that is the source of your suffering.
  • When disturbing thoughts and feelings arise, breathe, feel your weight on the seat or on the ground if you are standing and become aware of your body. Relax your body and come into the present moment. Say to yourself, “let it go, let it go.”
  • Bless yourself, bless those who hurt you and let the past be a learning experience.
  • If you are unable to forgive, ask yourself what investment you have in holding on to the grievance.
  • Remember that this process takes a long time, for every hurt that we have ever experienced in this life or in past lives, have a ripple effect on the pain we experience in any given circumstance.
  • Be patient with yourself and continue to do these suggestions over and over again.

Related Posts:

Still There

Restoring The Peace

{ 20 comments }

1 Marion 04.11.09 at 7:13 am

Very good post, Miruh…and so timely. Forgiveness to me means I can continue on with my life, without the heavy baggage of someone else’s life cluttering up my thoughts. I found it difficult to forgive…even the concept was difficult for me, but once I figured it out, how freeing forgiveness is. It gives so much peace.

2 Miruh 04.13.09 at 2:10 pm

Hello Marion,

Thanks for your kind comment!

I agree, forgiveness is such a freeing experience that I wonder why it takes so long for me to let go sometimes. Old Ego likes to hold on to being a victim, I suppose.

Deep peace to you Marion!

3 Liara Covert 04.14.09 at 6:48 pm

This moving tale may remind readers of an incident that occurred with the Amish people of Pennsylvania (USA). A murderer of young girls was publically forgiven by the community for this act. Many people outside this community listened to the news in disbelief. They felt anger for the deceased girls’ family yet, the family found love in their hearts for the individual. They chose to be accepting and non-judgmental. They sent positive, healing energy into the universe. Whether or not the Amish are consciously aware, this is an effort to contribute to balancing Earthly energies beyond limited, visual perception. The power of intention is immeasurable yet, very present.

4 Nicole 04.14.09 at 10:17 pm

My personal experience with forgiveness is the realization of how sensitive I truly am. I didn’t realize how much I was allowing disappointments to hurt me. Being aware of my natural reaction to situations has helped me to approach things differently the next time.

It really is so important to release your hurts and your pain so that you can keep moving forward and continuing to learn all that you can.

Thanks for a great post Miruh!

Nicole

5 Mark 04.15.09 at 1:04 pm

This is excellent! Forgiveness is key to our freedom and growth.

6 Mergingpoint 04.15.09 at 7:17 pm

Forgiving, in my view, a chance for giving ourselves a way into the freedom. There is none to forgive. Hurt, is indeed an indicator to let us know our attachments to the body and mind.
“Forgiveness takes courage, clarity and compassion, it does not come easily nor does it happen quickly.” — so true! so it is all for one’s own self in the game of life. doesn’t mean we let the ignorant trample on us.give them the space , out of compassion n love.
very valuable points to remind oneself..excellent post!

http://www.mergingpoint.blogspot.com

7 Miruh 04.15.09 at 9:54 pm

Hello Liara,

That is a truly remarkable story, another instance of the powerful healing that a whole community takes upon themselves when such tragedy occurs, that goes against the human inclination to seek justice through reprisal.

Thanks for sharing!

8 Miruh 04.15.09 at 10:02 pm

Hello Nicole,

Your words speak of the wisdom of awareness in the forgiving process.
“I didn’t realize how much I was allowing disappointments to hurt me.”
The recognition of how we allow our expectations of others to be the cause of our own and others pain is the crux of healing. It is truly empowering when we sense that we can relate differently and take ownership of our well-being.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Peace to you!

9 Miruh 04.15.09 at 10:06 pm

Hello Mark,

Thanks for your kind comment!

It is freeing when we choose to forgive. It is for ourselves. That is the beauty of it, the key to freedom is within our own power.

Be free!

10 Miruh 04.15.09 at 10:13 pm

Hello Mergingpoint,

I am glad you included the link to your blog because I was unsuccessful in finding you before. I love your writing, the poems and the beautiful eloquence with which you paint spiritual concepts. Very refreshing!

Indeed, there is no one to forgive, it is for us, yet as you say, “doesn’t mean we let the ignorant trample on us.give them the space , out of compassion n love.”

Thanks for dropping by and sharing your wisdom here!

Om Shanti!

11 Liara Covert 04.16.09 at 4:50 pm

Miruh, the physical world echos many uplifting examples of forgiveness to help jog the human memory. Negativity harms everyone. Expressing love has all the interests of all creatures at heart.

12 Miruh 04.16.09 at 5:28 pm

Hello Liara,

I agree with you that we are continually being shown a better way; a way to let love be the healing balm for all beings.

Much love to you!

13 Alexys Fairfield 04.16.09 at 6:51 pm

Hi Miruh,

Such a powerful story. Very good message on forgiveness. Thanks for breaking it down too because I think forgiveness is misunderstood on many levels.

Awesome post. 😀

14 Miruh 04.16.09 at 9:49 pm

Hello Alexys,

Thanks for your kind comment!

We are not taught about forgiveness in its truest sense, for-giving ourselves love, in the religious teachings in the West. This story shows
the tremendous power of a forgiving heart to heal the pain not only of self but to embrace the pain of the perpetrator. An incredible teaching story!

Peace to you my friend!

15 Valencia 01.22.10 at 10:03 am

Lovely and well written. Thanks for sharing.

16 Miruh 01.25.10 at 11:39 pm

Hello Valencia,

Welcome!

Glad you like this post. It is one that I read over and over. Much to imbibe here.

I took a quick peek at your site. Beautiful! May you inspire and be inspired on this journey.

Deep peace to you!

17 Angela Wheelock 10.31.11 at 7:43 pm

Hi Miruh,
Yes, a great posting. Lightening our load is so essential. There is a teaching by Basawanna that puts it very well, “How can the fire in your house burn the neighbor’s house without engulfing your own?” This is so true. I don’t like to hold onto anger in my own life. Sadly, many people do. How do you cope with that, without anger or feeling as though you’re being a target for the expression of toxic emotions?

18 Miruh 11.01.11 at 4:28 pm

Hello Angela,

I like the analogy of anger compared to the burning house.

You have brought up a good point about feeling like a target. Anger is such a hot emotion, it burns everything in its path. Without self-awareness it is easy to get caught up in the heat and go with the flow.

The practice of mindfulness has been helpful for me in these situations. When I remember to stay in the present moment and breathe, it does create some space, and not be sucked into the drama that is occurring.

Toxic emotions are toxic when we judge them to be so, rather than seeing that the person is crying out for help, for understanding, for love. In the heat of the moment, it may not be the time to address their needs, but simply to be there with a compassionate presence is all we can do sometimes.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

Deep peace to you!

19 linda 03.10.12 at 3:18 am

Thank you for this revelation. It’s going to be a long journey for me.

20 7towers 07.04.12 at 11:24 am

Forgiveness and the whys and hows of it became known to me in many layers , each layer having a life giving quality of a truth that couldn’t be disputed. These all culminated to allow me to see , we all have inner wounds that manifests themselves in damaging actions to others and ourselves.
How we behave may differ a great deal but root cause is one and same.
Judgment of others as to how their wound manifests can no longer hold ground for it’s just window dress and what really instigates, at the heart of what motivates , what we struggle with are one and the same.
Also awareness of the reactive compelling state when judging or being the abuser betrays the belief of seeing clearly. Do we act out of free will in these states? I think not. Hurt people hurt other people. “What is a good man but a bad mans teacher , what is a bad man but a good mans job, if you don’t understand this you will get lost however intelligent you are, it is the great secret. ” Lao-Tzu.

Excellent blog my friend thanks for being you ..
L

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