This time of year has different meaning to many depending on your religious or spiritual background. A few years ago, I wrote an article called “The Healing is in the Feeling” and this article is a follow-up to that. In the first article, I talk about really feeling our feelings – both good and bad, happy and sad, painful or not – in order for true healing to occur. A part of this healing puzzle includes our capacity to forgive. I first learned about forgiveness when I memorized the Lords prayer in Sunday school at the age of 4 and the line “forgive us for our trespasses as we forgive those who trespassed against us” was recited. Some important questions to ask yourself this holiday season are: 1. Who in my life do I need to forgive? 2. Is there anyone that I am harboring resentment or ill-will towards – either consciously or subconsciously? 3. Who am I slightly angry at or bitter towards in my heart?
Forgiveness is not an easy thing for many. Partly because we may feel that in forgiving someone we feel we are saying “that’s okay…” – that their behavior or transgression is acceptable. This is not what forgiveness is. By forgiving, you are not condoning the behavior, you are releasing yourself from the trap of resentment. It is saying – “the way you treated me or your behavior is not necessarily excused; however, I release and forgive you, as well as myself”. In the Bible, it says “forgive them for they know not what they do” – that is what forgiveness is about. As many of you know, I have had my personal trials and tribulations with my health over the last 30+ years – and my family and friends have gone through some difficult times as a result of my challenges. I consider my true friends and family members to be the ones that are still by my side despite the hardships, struggles and difficulties that having an illness brings. What saddens me to my core is the inability of my family and friends to forgive events/actions that have happened in the past. If you are like me and have loved ones that are stuck in their inability to forgive and communicate, I urge you to read about forgiveness in “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” by Dr. Christiane Northrup (pages 630-637). To summarize, she writes: “Forgiveness frees us. It heals our bodies and our lives. But it is also the most difficult step we must take in our healing process. It takes a great deal of energy to keep someone out of our hearts. The twelve-step approach teaches that we make amends for ourselves, not necessarily for the other person. But when we make amends to those who have hurt us, both of us are freed. Forgiveness and making amends are completely linked. Holding a grudge and maintaining hatred or resentment hurts us at least as much as the other person.
Forgiveness moves our energy to the heart area, the fourth chakra. When the body’s energy moves there, we don’t take our wounds so personally – and we can heal. Forgiveness is the initiation of the heart, and it is very powerful. Scientific studies have shown, for example, that when we think with our hearts by taking a moment to focus on someone or something that we love unconditionally – like a puppy or a young child – the rhythm of our hearts evens out and becomes healthier. Hormone levels change and normalize as well. When people are taught to think with their hearts regularly, they can even reverse heart disease and other stress-related conditions. The electromagnetic field of the heart is forty times stronger than the electromagnetic field produced by the brain; to me, this means that every cell in our bodies – and in the bodies of those around us – can be positively influenced by the quality of our hearts when they are beating in synchrony with the energy of appreciation.”
I first learned of a powerful forgiveness exercise from Dr. Northrup and it is one that I have practiced for many years. It has helped me to heal the hole in my heart that was eaten away by unresolved conflict in my relationships. I have recorded a lesson in forgiveness, as well as this meditation – I urge you to practice on a regular basis and consider it my gift to you.
And from Iyanla Vanzant: “When you become so angry with a person that you want to shut them out of your life, you need to know that there is something going on with you that has nothing to do with them. At this level, anger is a response to your own judgments, the failed satisfaction of your own expectations, your failed attempts to gain control or your subconscious response to fear. If you want to establish and maintain peaceful relationships with other people surrender all judgments of who they are and who they are not.”
This holiday season, may you understand the meaning of the season and give the gift of forgiveness to those in your life that you may be withholding your love from. My gift to you is the Forgiveness Meditation that I have found so helpful in my own journey towards optimal health.
With love, from my heart to yours,
Dr. Christina Bjorndal