What it Means to Forgive
They say that Om is the most powerful Mantra, but recently I’ve been working with a different Mantra and it seems to be more powerful than anything I’ve ever experienced. The Mantra I am referring to is the Mantra, “I am Forgiveness.” It’s simple, sweet, and to the point, and interestingly enough it is so powerful because of its dialectic qualities.
Let’s begin this post by exploring the world of DBT, dialectical behavioral therapy. DBT utilizes mindfulness, or more simply the observation of what is without judgement, to look at the dialectic (perceived contrast) between two ideas that are actually more fluid than mutually exclusive.
For example, you might be working with the concept of openness verses privacy. To be open one must share their inner landscape, feelings, and thoughts. Privacy implies a closed or gated threshold to sharing information. They look mutually exclusive, but in reality they can have a relationship in a healthy balanced state of being.
I’ve been exposed to DBT through my Yoga Therapy Training, as well as through my employment as a Yoga Therapist and Experiential Therapist in Austin, TX. I’ve found it fascinating how DBT can be used in a group setting to help awaken awareness around misperceptions that are driving behaviors or fueling fears without having to harness the story, which in my opinion can reinforce PTSD.
One way I work with clients in a clinical setting is through psychological education: Essentially, teaching clients what is happening in the brain when we are looping in patterns that are no longer serving our ultimate empowerment and health. I’m a HUGE proponent of practice what you preach, so I decided to integrate DBT into my personal practice while writing curriculum for group. I used the simple Mantra, “I am forgiveness” because it helps the brain to identify for the divine aspect of God through the ultimate gift of forgiveness.
In my opinion, the vast majority of suffering arises from a sense of separation. In my experience, a perceived separation is internally interpreted as a divorce from the whole. If we feel that we are no longer part of the whole of life, then we feel less than the “others” or the greater sum of the whole. By applying the philosophy that the only governing factor in the Universe is Supreme Divinity, and identifying as that aspect of God, I am creating a strong mental bond to that aspect in the present moment.
So, I decided to try my experiment in the “in between time,” or the time between my decision to do and the task being complete. Again, my experience tells me that during that “in between time,” I am often ruminating on things that I cannot solve, or need not worry about. This practice of Mantra during the mental down time helped me to cue myself into awareness.
I practiced driving to and from the hospital each day, I practiced driving to and from the studio. I practiced while brushing my teeth, and while blow drying my hair. I practiced all of the time, and you know what I found? I stopped thinking about me or my problems, and I starting think about others.
At first I was delighted with how therapeutic it felt. It was like applying ice to a burn. I felt calm almost instantly, and I was more aware and alert. My mind was calm and at peace. I noticed that I would think of things or people that hurt me, or that I hurt. I would instantly want to blame, but then I would look at the experience objectively with mindfulness and I would laugh; ultimately I found that I wasn’t mad at the other person or situation at all. More often than not I was mad at myself. Maybe I was mad at myself for the way I acted, for something I said. Sometimes it was for something I didn’t say, or something I am not allowing myself to say. In the end, every single time I applied forgiveness I felt 100% lighter, more connected, and more in love with living.
Through the process I was able to let go of so many hurts, so many embarrassments, so many misperceptions. Ultimately, it freed me from 20 years of looping and for the first time in two decades November wasn’t so bad. I was able to reframe the day I lost my mother as the day my mother was reborn into a new experience; she is currently 22~ Happy Birthday Mom! I was able to be fully present without sadness at the Thanksgiving table, I enjoyed food, family, and genuine connection for the first time in so long that I found myself overwhelmed with peace and tranquility.
This practice was truly transformative over the holidays. Of course there were instances that I felt triggered by a passive aggressive family member or a baking mishap, but for the most part I was able to mono task in my authentic interdependent family, and that was priceless.
To truly forgive is to lay it all out on the table and say without a shadow of a doubt “IT is forgiven.” You see, we are not the one’s being forgiven simply because we are perfect, whole, embodiments of God experiencing in this play we call life. The thing we are upset about or that is disrupting our peace is just an action rooted in misperception or verbal delusion. When we truly forgive there is no, “But he/she hurt me…”, or “But I said something I shouldn’t have…” These rationalizations only keep us looping in our own delusions of entitlement.
The truth is we are all just Divine embodiments learning and growing in relationships. We can choose to grow up via the soul line of continued awakened consciousness, or we can choose to live out on the goal line accumulating things on this earth. Personally, I enjoy the soul line, but it is not without its challenges. Committing to the soul line requires living by the tenets of enlightenment: Wisdom, compassion, forgiveness, equanimity, and empathy.