Start With The Small Stuff

April 16, 2009

In my previous post Lightening Your Load I wrote about the forgiving process. Forgiving is not easy, it takes a long time to let go. It is especially difficult to forgive those things we told ourselves we will never forgive. They have become deeply rooted in our hardened mistrust. We tell ourselves that we did not do anything wrong, so why should we forgive? I am suggesting that we can touch the heart of forgiveness by starting off with the small stuff. If we are able to feel the freedom that forgiving brings to ourselves, perhaps we might venture into looking at the bigger issues, the ones that cause us the most pain.

The more we push these more troublesome issues away, the more they follow us. It is the grudges that we resist letting go of, that binds us in their grip, in fear, grief, and trauma. We need to accept our resistance and to feel the pain that keeps our hearts closed, that holds us in fear of ever letting ourselves be hurt again. It is this ability to accept what is, that allows us to practice mindfulness, the first step to freedom from suffering. To acknowledge that it is just the way it is, and to wait until we feel ready to let go, has a natural healing quality to it, a softening, a reprieve.

It is the work we do in the forgiveness process, the giving time to contemplate our anger, distrust and hurt, that begins to slowly open the door.  There will come a time when replaying the stories, the holding on to the losses, and the hurt feelings, will begin to feel tiresome. The heart will know when it is time to stop resisting, to lighten up the unkindness of the mind, and open up to let love in again. Although we may be opening our hearts to another, it is we who are being healed. It is this tending to “unfinished business” that will lead to freedom and wholeness for ourselves.

The Buddhist tradition has a three part forgiveness meditation for giving love back to ourselves. We first start by forgiving ourselves for something. In the second part we choose a situation to ask forgiveness of another person.  In the third part we choose to forgive someone. So starting out with the small stuff, this is what my meditation would look like:

I was 5 years old, when, on the way home from school, I was taking a short-cut through a meadow, where I stepped into a mud hole. I  walked all the way home with my left leg caked in mud up to my knee. I felt so humiliated and ashamed when my friends laughed at my misfortune. I was angry and blamed my older sister for not warning me to be careful. Although this was so long ago, I could bring up the feeling of being laughed at quite vividly, and feel the anguish and resentment. This is definitely a small matter, although at the time it was the end of the world! 😀

This story fits into the three part meditation, so I will use this one incident for the whole process.

Sitting in a comfortable, relaxed posture with my eyes closed, I focus on my breathing. I become centered and calm. I begin with forgiving myself:

  • Bringing an image of myself at 5 years old, feeling my shame, I say, “I forgive you. I forgive you.”
  • Opening to the spaciousness of letting myself off the hook for doing a dumb thing, I notice the softening in my body, in my belly, in my throat.
  • I sit in the stillness, in the warmth, in the patience of allowing myself to just be okay as I am. I feel the mercy of compassion for me then and now, letting these feelings fill my whole body.
  • I allow the image of myself to dissolve.

Then I bring an image of my sister forward, and ask her to forgive me:

  • I sense her resentment for my blaming her for something she had no control over.
  • I say, “Forgive me for blaming you for not taking care of me.”
  • I let any hard feelings she has, float in the tenderness of her forgiveness.
  • I ask her to let me back into her heart, to forgive me for however I caused her pain in the past; in anger, in confusion, in guilt, intentionally or unintentionally through my words, thoughts or actions.
  • I feel her forgiveness and allow it to enter into my heart.
  • I bask in the softening in my body, the relief, the letting go of guilt.
  • I thank her and see her walking away.

Then I bring forward the image of the children who laughed at me. I will work at sending forgiveness to them.

  • I feel myself 5 years old,  with the walls of resentment around my heart.
  • I look at the children and say, “I forgive you and release the shame you caused me, intentionally or unintentionally.”
  • I let my forgiveness touch them, at least for this moment, and feel the softening in my belly and in my throat.
  • I notice my holding back, the unkindness, the judgment and allow these feelings to float in the mercy of compassion.
  • I allow the image of the children to take in the warmth and stillness of the patience of my forgiveness.
  • I thank them for giving me this opportunity to learn from.
  • I watch them walk away, noticing how my body and mind feel lighter and clearer.
  • I bask in the feelings of spaciousness, of softening and allow any remaining difficult feelings to float in the mercy of compassion for myself.
  • I think, just as I suffer from not forgiving myself, so do others, when I do not forgive them.
  • I extend this blessing: May all beings be freed from suffering caused by anger, fear and confusion. May all beings know the joy of their true nature. May all beings know Peace!

This practice may have to be done many, many times, as images and feelings keep coming back. As we continue to practice, the mind will gradually trust and open to this process of letting go. Eventually our hearts will open to let love in again, and we will become free of suffering.

{ 14 comments }

1 Sue 04.16.09 at 11:55 pm

That is so beautiful, thank you. I am going to print it out and place it on my wall next to my desk and whenever I feel the need I shall read it. I am only just getting into meditation as I truly believe we need to let go of our anger and stress and live freely. I found a site with healing and meditation techniques at http://www.vitalitybliss.com which has helped me also. Once again thank you so much.

2 Mark 04.17.09 at 10:57 am

This is a valuable exercise, thanks for sharing!

3 Miruh 04.17.09 at 12:42 pm

Hello Sue,

Welcome!

I am glad that you find this post useful. It is a good idea to have reminders close by that are helpful when difficult thoughts and feelings arise.

Thanks for the link, it is a cornucopia of good helpful resources.

Have a happy weekend!

4 Miruh 04.17.09 at 12:44 pm

Hello Mark,

When I remember to use this exercise it is like taking a psychic bath. I am glad you like it.

Have a peaceful weekend!

5 Alexys Fairfield 04.17.09 at 3:32 pm

Hi Miruh,

I felt so much compassion for the little 5 year old Miruh. Then I thought, if it had not been for that experience you would have not been able to share it with us. See, things happen for a reason.

No one likes being laughed at or teased though and kids especially are cruel. I find this exercise can also help to re-live experiences over with our own outcome. It’s part of our healing yesterday and making today more alive. 😀

6 Miruh 04.18.09 at 10:58 am

Hello Alexys,

When I look at the photo of these little girls, I see the vulnerability of a 5 year old, how character is made by the experiences we have even at that tender age.
If we can remember in the moment that all our experiences happen for the best even if we cannot see it, acceptance of what is, we will live our lives with ease and wonder.

Thanks for pointing out that this exercise can also be used to reframe our experiences with an outcome we would prefer, healing the past and making a new template for the future.

Have a happy weekend!

7 Liara Covert 04.19.09 at 10:01 am

Miruh, you remind readers that everyone has the capacity to reflect and take steps to heal emotional wounds. Human beings often lose them somewhere in the abyss of the psyche. And yet, the negative energy that reverberrates in your tone of voice or quick temper in certain circumstances rarely relates directly to where you are. To courageously take journeys into yourself, you rediscover sources of wisdom, inner strength and timeless knowing. Your insights are greatly appreciated. Such initatives inspire a domino effect elsewhere.

8 Miruh 04.19.09 at 9:23 pm

Hello Liara,

I agree, many of us have forgotten about deep hurts buried under layers of protective harshness, that we have come to think that this is who we are. As you say, it is through the courage to look within, that we uncover Truth.

Thanks for sharing your wise words.

Peace to you!

9 Liara Covert 04.20.09 at 8:20 pm

Miruh, life experience teaches ahuman being how to learn not to react to events. One learns a difference among aloofness, indifference and the more conscious awakening of what is.

10 Miruh 04.21.09 at 10:23 am

Hello Liara,

You nailed it, it is conscious awakening as opposed to aloofness or indifference that will heal our lives.

Thanks for returning to add to the conversation.

Peace to you!

11 Nicole 04.21.09 at 4:03 pm

Miruh: I really appreciate how you used your own situation going through the process of forgiveness. Sometimes, with spirituality, meditations, blessings, spells, etc, it is so difficult to explain the “feeling” part of things and the use of intuition, but you have described it perfectly.

Thank you for another great post!

12 Miruh 04.21.09 at 9:23 pm

Hello Nicole,

Thanks for your kind comment.

The topic of forgiveness and compassion is difficult to grasp, we are told to do it, but it is more a process of Being. It is not easy to explain Being, I am glad that it seemed clear for you.

Peace to you!

13 Kanan 02.14.10 at 12:11 pm

Hi Miruh,
I am a first-time visitor to your site. Earlier today, my wonderful mother (whose core is so deeply rooted in spirituality) was talking to me and helping me understand how I should always look always inwards for guidance and listen to my gut instinct; how I should never forget who I am and depend entirely on another person; how I should not allow disturbances in my life to shake my core or equilibrium (as it has happened time and again in my life – clearly a lesson I still have to learn). All day, I reflected on what she said and realized how right she was. I’ve hurt myself so much by not adhering to the above words of wisdom. And so, I did a simple Google search on forgiveness (something my mom has helped me work through for a long time) and I came across your blog. I can’t tell you how helpful your entry was. I did the forgiveness exercise just now and it brought forth some emotions indeed but it restored me with a certain strength – a sense of peace and lightness just as you describe through your own example. Through this Buddhist forgiveness technique, I’ve finally understood that in order to move on and let go 100%, you have to truly forgive. I already knew this but the letting go bit has been particularly tough for me. The reason I haven’t been able to move on completely (from a negative relationship that ended 2 years ago) is because I didn’t truly release all negative emotions lingering in me. So, when I did this act of forgiveness, not only did I forgive the guy who hurt me but with that forgiveness, I acknowledged releasing the leftover pain, guilt, resentment etc. that I’ve been holding on to for so long. I sincerely believe that repeating this forgiveness technique for some time will truly rid me of any attachment I still have to that guy and that episode in my life.
In other words, thank you.
Best,
Kanan

14 Miruh 02.15.10 at 4:09 pm

Hello Kanan,

Welcome!

I am glad that you found my blog and this particular post on Love’s Day! Your heart-felt comment reminds me that this blog is not just a nice hobby of mine, it is a way of serving the community of seekers.
Your mom is a wise woman, you are fortunate to have a friend and teacher in her.

This meditation technique is a gift to us, to let go into the freedom of experiencing the depths of our own love, as we open our hearts again. It is a meditation that has helped me tremendously, for forgiveness is the foundation of healing, for giving love to ourselves once again.

I send you blessings for your continued healing and discovery of the greatness that you are.

Deep peace to you!

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