By Suma Varughese July 2009 Forgiveness helps us emerge whole from our wounded past, and return to the business of our lives with renewed energy, wisdom and peace. It is the bottleneck through which we must pass to reclaim our happiness and health. How to forgiveLearning to let go Do this exercise with a partner if you can, or do it out loud if you are alone. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and say, “The person I need to forgive is ————– and I forgive him for —————“ Do this over and over. You will have many things to forgive some for and only one or two to forgive others for. If you have a partner, let him say to you, “Thank you, I set you free now.” If you do not, then imagine the person you are forgiving saying it to you. Do this for at least five to ten minutes. Search your heart for the injustices you still carry. Then let them go.When you have cleared as much as you can for now, turn your attention to yourself. Say out loud to yourself, “I forgive myself for———-“. Do this for another five minutes or so. These are powerful exercises and good to do at least once a week to clear out any remaining rubbish. Some experiences are easy to let go and some we have to chip away at, until suddenly one day they let go and dissolve. From You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L Hay Heal yourselfthis exercise will help you nurture yourself, and heal your relationship with your parents Have someone read this to you if you can, or put it in tape and listen to it. Begin to visualise yourself as a child of five or six. Look deeply into this little child’s eyes. See the longing that is there and realise that there is only one thing this little child wants from you and that is love. So reach out your arms and embrace this child. Hold it with love and tenderness. Tell it how much you love it, how much you care. Admire everything about this child and say that it’s okay to make mistakes while learning. Promise that you will always be there, no matter what. Now let this little child get very small, until it is just the size to fit into your heart. Put it there so whenever you look down, you can see this little face looking up at you and you can give it lots of love. Now visualise your mother as a little girl of four or five, frightened and looking for love and not knowing where to find it. Reach out your arms and hold this little girl and let her know how much you love her, how much you care. Let her know she can rely on you to always be there no matter what. When she quiets down and begins to feel safe, let her get very small, just the size to fit into your heart. Put her there with your own little child. Let them give each other lots of love.Now imagine your father as a little boy of three or four – frightened, crying and looking for love. See the tears rolling down his little face when he doesn’t know where to turn. You have become good at comforting frightened little children, so reach out your arms and hold his trembling little body. Comfort him. Croon to him. Let him feel how much you love him. Let him feel that you will always be there for him.When his tears are dry and you feel the love and peace in his little body, let him get very small – just the size to fit into your heart. Put him there so those three little children can give each other lots of love and you can love them all.From You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L HayExperience your hurtRunning away from suffering is itself suffering. the wiser course is to experience the suffering. here are the steps to that• Become aware of the escape routes.• Awareness seals them off.• Stay still• Allow the pain to suck you in. If necessary, help the pain to suck you in.• Bring attention to the physical sensation.• Stay there. The rest is a happening. At the end of it, you will be in bliss, ecstacy, overflowing with love and forgiveness. If it does not work for you the first time, persist. The time will come when you will have the strength of mind to experience your disturbance and transform it to peace. “When you hold resentment toward another you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free’– Catherine PonderLet us go on a journey, you and I. The journey begins with a universal reality – a hurt. Someone or something has hurt us. It may be a small hurt or it may be an unbearably grievous one. No matter. The process is the same. We humans are born with tender, fragile psyches and in the course of living, our psyches invariably ends up with cuts, bruises, gashes and other injuries. In the battle of life, we are all wounded soldiers, bleeding internally and often silently.“As a therapist, I believe that most people’s issues can be traced to hurts – starting with parents, siblings, extended families, teachers, friends, colleagues in workplaces, bosses and supervisors, spouses and children. In a culture where so much religious teaching focuses on forgiveness there is no practical training in forgiving people and moving on,” observed Anita Anand, a Delhi-based hypnotherapist.“Two and a half years ago, I put others’ needs ahead of mine, because I wanted their approval and love. I was out of touch with my own needs. However, a relative said something that hurt me tremendously and I snapped. Almost involuntarily, I cut off all relations with my family, and went through two years of extreme isolation and loneliness. I did not think I could forgive them in this lifetime,” says Ajay Kalra, a Mumbai-based trainer and life coach. The power of letting go “Some years ago my sister-in-law died and I was left in charge of the two children, the youngest being only a few months old. To top it all, my brother, the childrens’ father, left the house and went away, leaving me holding the babies literally. It was a painful time,” says 60-year-old Kavita Khanna. “My hurt and trauma at being subjected to unacceptable behaviour during childhood weighed me down so much I was unable to lead my life,” says Jasmine Bharathan, an energy psychologist working with the healing modalities of EFT and TAT.In my own case, a relationship that had foundered some years ago unexpectedly came back into my life, and brought with it many unresolved feelings of anger and resentment. What happens when we carry this accumulated baggage of hurt through life? Swami Chidananda Saraswati draws a graphic picture of our plight:“So many people come to me, their identities determined and lives plagued by wrongs which have been wrought upon them sometime in the past. They may not remember details of the sin itself; but they are vividly aware of how this sin has ruined every day of their lives since. They are stuck, unable to move forward, held prisoner by acts long-ago committed, crying over abuse lashed onto skin cells which have long ago perished.”Sri Bhagavan, the spiritual head of Oneness University in Vardiahpalem, says succinctly, “Accumulated hurt is karma which leads to inner death. With the heart dead you move away from everybody. You lose all joy of life. These hurts also manifest as problems in the external world.”Louise L Hay, the acclaimed author of You Can Heal Your Life, puts it even more clearly. “Many people come to me and say they cannot enjoy today because of something that happened in the past.‘Because I am no longer married, I cannot live a full life today ‘Because I was hurt by a remark once, I will never trust anyone again.‘Because I was poor as a child, I will never get anywhere.”Holding on to hurt Put like that, our stories can seem absurd even to ourselves. How can we possibly allow our lives to be hijacked by past events? Why cannot we simply shrug them off like so much garbage and walk on?If only life were so simple; or rather if only we were so simple. Alas, our original simplicity and innate perfection is very quickly overwritten by feelings of inadequacy and insecurity giving rise to many emotional, psychological and physical needs, all of which require another. We become enmeshed in ties of mutual need and dependency. When our needs and expectations are not fulfilled, we experience hurt.And hurt, once experienced, needs to be healed. It will not go away on its own. To heal our hurts we need to smoothen the grooves they have carved in our consciousness and return to freedom. So what stops us?Not forgiving makes us feel righteous and gives us power over the other. Says Swami Chidananda, “We hold onto our pain because it identifies who we are; it gives us an excuse for behaving the way we do; it has become such a familiar feeling that – regardless of its self-destructive nature – we cannot let it go. Yet let it go we must if we want to move forward.” Says Jasmine Bharathan, “For the longest time, I held on to my hurt because I thought I was right in doing so. The behaviour was completely unacceptable. I thought forgiving the perpetrator would mean endorsing the behaviour.” In her work with clients she observes that they too feel justified in their anger and hurt. Another thing that comes in the way is the conditioning most of us internalise that we must forgive. That compulsion weighs us down and prevents us from acknowledging that perhaps we are not ready to forgive.For forgiveness is a process. Its opening movement is most often an unwillingness or inability to do so. Jasmine says, “I used to read all those lofty books written by spiritual greats urging forgiveness and I used to think it’s easy for them to say so.” Ajay Kalra feels, “My fears held me back from communicating wi
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