During this past week, I kept hearing the word ‘forgiveness’ inside my mind. Specifically, I heard about forgiveness being a medicine that can remedy all our pain.
The pain we feel when we lose our home or other material possessions. The pain we experience in our body when we face a physical illness. The pain of separation from a loved one – from loss due to death of the body or the death of a relationship – so that our beloved is no longer part of our everyday social fabric. The pain we feel when we believe we have disappointed someone we love by our actions, or when we feel a sense of shame or regret and judge ourselves as failures.
Yet how is that possible? How can forgiveness be a solution for all our pain? How would that work?
Going deeper into forgiveness
In my book Physician, Heal Thyself: A Doctor’s Journey from Medicine to Miracles (A mindful approach to healing based on teachings of A Course in Miracles), I spend a whole chapter talking about the role of forgiveness in healing.
Here is an excerpt from my book:
“Imagine if your doctor could offer you a medicine that would give you the following:
- Steady and consistent peace of mind
- Happiness that fills you from within, simply bubbles over, and is easily shared with others
- A quiet mind that cannot be disturbed
- A sense of deep, abiding rest and comfort
- Feeling cared for, safe, and protected—always—no matter what
- A sense of self-worth and beauty that does not depend on anything external
- An ability to be gentle yet never feel hurt
- A certainty of purpose in a world that often seems senseless and meaningless
All you needed to do was take the medicine daily, perhaps even use it several times a day, if necessary. What if you were also assured that this medication caused absolutely no side effects and there were no interactions with other medications you might be using?
What would you do?
Most, if not all of us, would say, yes, of course, we would happily take the medicine! And now, what if I were to tell you that forgiveness is that medicine? Forgiveness, a priceless gift from the beloved presence dwelling within our hearts, is like a soothing balm for healing all our wounds. We need this comforting presence to dry all our tears. Whenever we feel lost, confused, lonely, upset or disconnected, a steady practice of forgiveness anchors us in the truth of our being—a changeless, timeless, deathless, and birthless reality that is pure peace, love, and joy. In our fast-paced lives mired in space, time, and form where the only thing that is constant is change, we are apt to quickly forget this reality.”
The prison of pain
Let’s explore what happens when we feel pain – especially if we believe that someone else seems to be the cause of our pain.
Do you feel like you have lost your power and you are at the mercy of this person or situation?
Do you feel that this person or situation casts a large shadow over you? Like you are perpetually standing under a cloud that can burst into a torrential and raging thunderstorm at any moment.
Perhaps you experience a heavy sensation across your heart, so that even breathing seems difficult and constrained. Or there is a tight band across your forehead as you constantly review and perseverate over this situation – playing out all the scenarios of what could have/should have/would have happened if you or the other person could/should/would have acted differently. Maybe you feel a sensation of tightness or a knot in your stomach – which prevents you from relaxing and letting go.
In such a difficult situation, how do we find our freedom? How can we move from this space of dis-ease and take a deep breath? Can we ever truly feel happy and loved again? How do we do this?
The transformative power of forgiveness
When we face a challenging situation, at some point along our journey, we realize that we simply cannot live with this pain any longer. Something inside us cries out and says, “There must be another way!” These are our magic words because we have arrived at the maximum tolerance of our pain. Now, we are open to heal.
Forgiveness helps us shift our perspective, so we see our situation differently. Herein lies the true gift and healing that forgiveness offers. It is a medicine that we take and allow it to work inside us at a pace that is comfortable for us; we cannot and must not rush this process. However, it is our choice that only we can make. Only we have the power to choose forgiveness. While it may seem that we are forgiving another person or situation, in reality, it is we that are in most need of forgiveness.
This does not mean that we condone actions of abuse or violence – or that we allow ourselves to be treated poorly like we are a doormat. We do what is needful for self-care – which may look like choosing to leave an unhealthy relationship or set clear boundaries about how we will or will not engage with a person or situation that seems to be creating pain in our lives.
Yet we make a conscious choice that we will not allow this event to became frozen in our minds and hearts. Instead, we will allow all the painful emotions to flush up in a safe space with those we trust; yes, the anger, the sadness, the hurt, the confusion – all must be bought into awareness. Only then can we go deeper into the peace, love, and joy that are buried underneath. This inner sanctuary of peace, love, and light can never be hurt or taken away from us. It is our treasure to claim hidden right underneath all the pain and darkness. And forgiveness can light our way, so we may fully allow this healing to truly wash over us, so we may feel whole once more – perhaps even stronger and more resilient than before.
Mahatma Gandhi rightfully stated that it takes strength to choose forgiveness; in doing so, we are courageously saying no to the momentum of years, perhaps lifetimes of egoic conditioning. We are making a different choice – laying down new wiring in our neuronal pathways and literally creating a fresh way to relate not only to this situation but ourselves and our entire world view. Forgiveness is a true inner revolution – seemingly quiet and silent yet truly powerful.
If you feel inspired to read the rest of the chapter on forgiveness from my book, you can click here.
Here is a guided meditation/self-reflection that you can use to deepen your practice of forgiveness. It is about 20 minutes long and divided into three parts – (1) forgiveness of someone you feel hurt you; (2) asking for forgiveness from someone you feel your hurt; and (3) forgiveness of yourself. It is based on a forgiveness lesson from A Course in Miracles.
If you feel inspired to purchase my book (which BTW makes a great holiday gift :-)), you may do so here on Amazon where it is available in both Kindle and good old-fashioned paperback.
Sometimes we just need a little extra help and guidance to support us along our path. I would not be where I am today without the help of many mighty companions and spiritual mentors who guided me, and in doing so, they saved me so much time and suffering! If you resonate with the message I have shared above and feel that I could perhaps be a source of support for you, please email me and we can set up a free introductory session to explore further what that could look like.
It would be my honor and a blessing to connect with you wherever you are.
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