Meditation for forgiveness
The purpose of meditation is to train us in the ability to remain present in our everyday lives. But, as many of us know, this is not as straightforward as it sounds, especially for those of us plagued by feelings of regret and guilt. By definition, these emotions keep us rooted in the past.
It’s all too easy to feel consumed over things said or done, wishing we could have acted differently, or wishing life wasn’t how it’s turned out to be. But this kind of thinking — dwelling on those things that cannot be undone or unsaid — are not useful states to hold onto. If anything, they keep us in a self-perpetuated cycle of suffering.
Instead, we can use these emotions as a doorway to forgiveness — for ourselves or for others. If we can begin to view our guilt or regret as signals — signals that inform us that we have said or done something that is not aligned with our morals, or how we’d like to live our life — then these emotions become learning opportunities, rather than something we use to beat ourselves up over. The key learning is in not wanting to repeat the same mistake, the same action, or the same reaction — and meditation for forgiveness provides the conditions for this liberating possibility.
Once we better understand how the mind works — what meditation helps us to achieve — we can take proactive steps that prevent us from falling into the same habitual thinking. And regret and guilt, more than anything else, keep us in a repetitive loop of negative thought — playing a situation over and over in our heads.
Anger, resentment, hurt, guilt, and regret all fuel negative mental chatter, and that internal dialogue usually obsesses over the wish that we could have said or done things differently. It can be difficult to ignore these thoughts, and the more we listen to them, the worse we tend to feel about ourselves.
But this is where meditation and forgiveness cross paths. It teaches us that we’re all human, and the price of being human means that we are inevitably going to err in some way. If we can hold on to that awareness instead of holding ourselves prisoner to regret and guilt, then we can learn to free ourselves so we are engaged with the present, not the past.
Humans tend to set a high bar when it comes to expectations for themselves. This can lead to us becoming attached to these expectations and their intended outcomes. But the essence of living in the moment is being able to let go of these expectations. According to Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe, “Our expectations are formed in the past, and prevent us from living moment to moment.” To forgive is to choose to live life as it is, not how we wish it could be. And when we can open ourselves up to living in such a way, we find it not only easier to forgive ourselves, we also to forgive others who may have hurt us or let us down.
Meditation for pain
There are multiple approaches to be taken when it comes to a guided meditation for forgiveness and letting go. One such path is a kindness meditation, which helps foster innate feelings of compassion toward yourself. The mind’s everyday chatter might obscure kindness, but by quieting the internal dialogue, we create the space for kindness to arise … and this then bleeds into all our relationships. Sharpening our ability to be kind to ourselves and to others nurtures our capability for forgiveness.
Another way to approach forgiveness meditation is by looking at anger, a feeling that has the potential to disrupt us and throw us off-course. Anger can be experienced physically, in the form of tightness or pain, or as a less tangible feeling with symptoms such as irritability. Either way, in order to understand it, we must spend time with it.
Until we decide to engage with it, anger is just energy within the body. It doesn’t have to be seen as good or bad — rather just an energy that can be leveraged to transform the mind or explored during self-forgiveness guided meditation. The goal is to recognize the anger, but not engage with it.
So many components make up our ability to forgive ourselves and others. Our relationship with kindness, love, anger, resentment and many other feelings are an important part of this highly personal journey. The Headspace app offers a variety of meditation practices that can tap into your personal relationship with forgiveness. The app offers multiple courses (available only to logged-in subscribers), that are geared toward kindness, relationships, and transforming anger.
Headspace also offers everything from sleep, self-esteem, and communication courses to meditations for happiness, gratitude, focus, and more. Sign up today for free and begin your journey towards mindfulness, meditation, and forgiveness.
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