forgiveness in the face of tragedy.

I am sitting at my desk writing this post while grappling with the fatal shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling: violent acts amidst a daily stream of such mindlessness and suffering. In my own life, I have recently been working with the concept of forgiveness and healing trauma from the past. This week my offering to you is an opportunity to experience insight and healing in the face of trauma on the collective and personal level. 

Forgiveness is compassion in action. It is the process of untangling all the chords which bind us to people and experiences which don't serve our evolution anymore. It is self love, and love for others, as choice.

Forgiveness means letting go of the burdens of pain, confusion and guilt from past relationships and situations which hurt us. It is choosing to not carry the weight of that pain anymore. By effectively feeling, allowing, integrating and acting appropriately in response to this pain without denying it, we can then let it go. We can let it go out of love for ourselves, not out of fear of more pain. To truly let go of anything we have to integrate and allow ourselves to fully experience it first with compassion.

Forgiveness doesn't mean what happened in the past was okay, or will every be okay. It means you are returning that burden of old energy to the sender while acknowledging we are universally connected to all human beings. This kind of energy return allows us clear seeing, and the ability to act righteously and with courage in the face of violence.

How to forgive:

  1. Bring yourself into a relaxed meditative state in a surrounding which makes you feel safe and secure. Feel into your body and identify the after effects of the experience in your body. Like a bad taste in your mouth, the body will let you know where your anger shame or fear is still present, even if it hasn't been in your conscious thought for a while.
  2. Breathe softness and compassion into your body, and imagine your breath filling not just your body but also the situation. Allow yourself to feel. Fully experience this old energy, while recognizing the safety of your being and your environment now. Trust that you are being held by a force greater than you.
  3. As you focus on this loving force which accompanies your breath, make the conscious choice to release the weight from your life now. Recognize the pain of the other person who hurt you and lovingly gift them this pain. There is no ill intent or revenge here. You can imagine that you are sending this energy back to the higher or spirit self of the other person, and see them also lovingly embracing and transforming it into compassion.

If you get to the part of feeling the pain, and it is so intense you can't quite imagine letting go or forgiving the other person fully, allow yourself to fully feel your pain without changing it, and call on a higher energy of compassion to assist you to feel love for yourself in the face of this pain.

Feeling this raw vulnerability brings us out of our own personal pain and into the universality of the heart, where we are all connected. In the Buddhist tradition the goddess Yuan Yin is the master of unconditional love and forgiveness. Her name means "The Iron Goddess of Mercy" and her love and ability to connect with and soothe the burdens of the heart are infinite. In his book 'Becoming Kuan Yin' Author and Teacher Stephen Levine writes:

"Breathing into the grief point of the world that had become the touch point of the heart, she sent out loving-kindness to all sentient beings."

Forgiveness involves these two processes: discovering the touch point of the heart, where pain becomes universal and we can sense that our pain is no different from the worlds pain, and then through the sense of love which begins to grow, we can let go of the burden of personal suffering out of our own understanding that we deserve freedom, as all beings do. Finally, after understanding we are all intrinsically connected, we reclaim our personal sovereignty by choosing to let compassion and self love replace our old wounds.

When we let go of our personal burden and connect to the universal pain of the situation, we can take integral action, stand up for our rights, assert ourselves with a calm and a power which is far greater than our own.

I encourage everyone to find actions we can take to prevent the violence and delusion that is present in our world on such a mass scale. And I also leave you this prayer from Kuan Yin, as channeled from Stephen Levine:

May all beings be free of fear and confusion
May we be liberated from hell, rising towards the light
May all the vow takers and bodhisattvas waiting between heaven and hell
find ample birth; and that the prayer, which cannot but amplify such duality,
subside into the One.

With all my Love,