Friday, January 31, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 30 - Wisdom from Vancouver BC

ME

I wouldn't be me if you hadn't been you  --Vancouver BC Storefront

I don't particularly like this picture of myself, but it is what I looked like in one certain moment at one place in time.

Life in a human body isn't always glamorous, it isn't always fun and it isn't always what we had hoped for. Sometimes it is significantly less than that in fact.

The good news is, that isn't just true of you and it isn't just true of me. Everyone wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, everyone has bad hair days, and everyone sometimes falls short of being the person they want to be, the person they are capable of being. That is why we all need forgiveness. And that is why I started 30 Days of Forgiveness.

I hope you have enjoyed the ride and feel that you have in some way benefited from it. I also hope that this will not be the end. I hope that you will continue to do forgiveness work in whatever way speaks to you and that you will continue to forgive yourself in those moments when you need it.

I think this quote really sums it up. We make each other who we are, for better AND for worse. That's why we are here. To learn. To grow. To evolve. And we can't do that without each other, even the "others" we find most annoying. Perhaps we need them most of all.

So, thanks, to each of you for making me who I am today. It is because of you and your participation and support over the past thirty days that I am who I am today. I wouldn't be me if you hadn't been you. Truly.

[Congratulations to our 30 Days of Forgiveness prize winners! The winners of Dr Cat's custom-made  Ho'oponopono greeting cards are: Deborah Boomer, Diana Graves, and Thomas May. I also decided to donate a free Akashic Records reading to one of our participants and the winner of that prize is: Teri Blair. Winners, please message me on Facebook to claim your prize. Thanks to everyone who participated and stay tuned for what comes next! Lots of love, Lara]

Thursday, January 30, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 29 - Wisdom from Marianne Williamson



"Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is." - Marianne Williamson

One more day to go!

I had a moment of panic night as I lay down to go to sleep: Oh no! I didn't do my forgiveness work for today. Then I remembered that earlier in the day I had forgiven somebody on the fly, in the moment, as soon as my annoyance came up, and I decided to count that.

Because that's the idea isn't it? To get so in the habit of forgiveness that we can forgive IN THE MOMENT before we need to yell or stuff or walk away. I was quite pleased that I was able to do this on Day 28, after twenty-seven days of practice.

Of course there were a lot of things I didn't forgive in the moment yesterday too:
  • The three men who got in my swimming lane just after I did and lapped me multiple times during my workout (so annoying!) 
  •  My son's teacher for not putting any positive comments on his most recent essay even after I told her he found her comments to be too negative and disheartening
  • My dog, who thinks she is a person and refuses to eat dog food.....
  • And myself, for still not knowing what I want to be when I grow up. 
I have been feeling lost again lately. It is a place I have been to often in my life - too often - where I just don't know what the next step is.

Before the holidays and Christmas break and my mother-in-law's car accident I was in a groove, I had a plan (30 Days of Forgiveness, more writing classes, a publicity plan for my Akashic Records readings), I knew what I wanted to do next and now it all seems so hard and far away.

I hate this feeling. It sits in my chest and aches as I get up and get the kids off to school and then when they are gone it overwhelms me and I don't end up doing the things I want to do for myself. I do some laundry, or go shopping, or watch some bad TV instead and at the end of the day I am left with even more of that feeling.

This is my darkness. This indecision, this overwhelm, this ache.

I guess what it is telling me is that I don't really know myself yet, I haven't really forgiven myself yet, I don't really love myself yet. In other words, I still have work to do.

And for me, that's one of the gifts that has come out of this 30 Days of Forgiveness - knowing that this is just a start, that I still have work to do, and knowing - a little bit more clearly - just exactly what that work is.

What gifts have you gained from your forgiveness work? I would love to hear your stories.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 28 - Wisdom from "Friday Night Lights"

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"There is no weakness in forgiveness." --From "Friday Night Lights"

There is no weakness in forgiveness. So why does it sometimes feel like there is? 

Why was my first impulse to get angry at the old nun in Philomena and not to forgive? Even now, after the forgiveness work I have done, there is a part of me that wants to scream, "BUT SHE GOT AWAY WITH IT!! AND THAT'S NOT FAIR!" 

You'd think I would have learned by now that life isn't fair and that sometimes the bad guys get away with it.....

But we forgive anyway. Because it's the right thing to do. Because it does more harm than good not to. Because it sets us free.

AND, we hold people accountable. We don't accept the same behavior again and again. We don't look the other way when they try to do the same thing to someone else. We set boundaries and limits with the person we have forgiven and we hold them steady. 

And sometimes, when the person cannot - or does not - change their ways, we walk away. Not in anger, but from a place of forgiveness and strength. 

We say to them, "I love you. I forgive you. And I cannot be in relationship with you any longer. Because I also love myself and that is what I need to do to take care of myself."

And there is no weakness in that. 

May you find freedom and strength in the work you do today. 

[Thanks for this one goes to my friend Karen ;) ]

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 27 - Ways of Practicing - Dr Cat's Favorite Forgiveness Process



 "I forgive __________ for everything and __________ forgives me.  
 I forgive __________ for everything and __________ forgives me. 
 I forgive __________ for everything and __________ forgives me.


This forgiveness exercise requires as much - if not more - writing than The Forgiveness Letter, so its a great one if you process things through writing. In it, Dr Cat takes the principles of Ho'oponopono, combines them with some Biblical wisdom, and adds just a dash of your fourth grade teacher (I will not talk in class. I will not talk in class. I will not talk in class).

Click the link above for the full explanation and to give it a try. If you do, let me know how it works for you.

[Thanks, once again, to Dr Cat Saunders for this forgiveness exercise as well as for the graphic for today's post. It is from a series entitled Images for Women in Recovery, which can be purchased as a card deck on her website.]

[NB. This post has been edited since it was posted to more accurately quote Dr Cat's forgiveness process.]

Sunday, January 26, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 25 - More Wisdom from ACIM


"Condemn and you are made a prisoner. Forgive and you are free." --ACIM

Saturday, January 25, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 24 - Forgiveness Focus from ACIM


"Select one person you have used as a target for your grievances, and lay the grievances aside and look at him. “ --ACIM, Lesson 78

This one may be a challenge. I know it has been for me. Think of someone you hate, someone whose very name galls you and makes you mad. Someone who tormented you in high school, or made your life miserable in college, or bugs you on a daily basis at work.

Perhaps it's someone who you hardly know, but whose name sets your teeth on edge. Or maybe it's someone you see every day who drives you crazy. Whoever it is, try this.

Try and lay the grievances you have against them aside and look at them. What do they look like? What is their home life like? Who do they love? What are their hobbies? How do they keep themselves safe? What are they afraid of?

Do a full study of this person and see if that changes your view of them. Do a forgiveness letter and see if this takes some of the energy out of your grievances. Say the Ho'oponopono prayer for them all day and see if you feel differently by the end of the day.

Let me know how it goes! 

[Thanks for this one goes to my sister-in-law Katie Simmons, I am grateful for her friendship and support.]

Friday, January 24, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 23 - Wisdom from ACIM - Forgiving the Catholic Church


"Forgive and you will see this differently." --ACIM

Last Saturday night my husband and I had a long-overdue date night. We knew what we wanted to do - the old standby, dinner and a movie - but what movie?

We had two choices: the Oscar-nominated indie film Philomena, about a woman's search for the son she was forced to give up for adoption or American Hustle, the Oscar-nominated Hollywood film about con artists in the 1970's. Both came highly recommended.
 
Ultimately we decided on Philomena because we were in kind of a melancholy mood and it had been around longer and was more likely to leave the theaters soon. We couldn't have made a better choice for forgiveness month.

***SPOILER ALERT: If you have never seen the film and think you might want to, stop reading now.

The story in a nutshell is about a young woman who gets pregnant, is kicked out by her parents and taken in by the Catholic Church who help her give birth and then force her to work in their laundry room all day, only allow her to see her son one hour per day and eventually adopt him out to a rich American couple without her knowledge. (This isn't even the worst part.)

Fifty years later she decides she wants to find her son and enlists the help of an out-of-work journalist. Their first stop is the convent where she had the baby. There they are greeted politely, given tea and cookies and told that no information is available on her son. She is not allowed to see the one old nun who was there at the time she gave birth.

As the story progresses, she and the journalist persist in their efforts to find her son, eventually locating him in the United States. Unfortunately, he has died. They manage to find his partner (he was gay) who shows him the film from her son's funeral. In it we see her son at the convent where she gave birth to him waving to the camera and surrounded by the nuns who told her they had no information about her son.

Ugh.

At this point in the film I felt like I had been kicked in the gut and was wishing we had chosen American Hustle.

Towards the end of the movie, Philomena and the journalist go back to the convent to visit the grave of her son (who was buried there) and the journalist, full of anger, confronts the old nun. Philomena stops him, stands in front of this nun who took her son from her and kept her son from her and says, "I forgive you."

Argh.

I was sickened. I was enraged. I wanted to yell and scream at this old nun just like the journalist. And I didn't see anything wrong with it. She deserved it. She deserved worse.

And then I remembered. Oh, yeah. 30 Days of Forgiveness....I should probably be thrilled that Philomena was offering her forgiveness. This is what I have been advocating for all month. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive.

And I couldn't do it. Not in that moment. Not even a little bit.

We left the theater and I was raging. I wanted to shake off the way I felt. I wanted to get it out of me. I didn't want to have spent our first date night in weeks confronting the demons of the Catholic Church.

I thought about all of the other evil, horrible things that have been done by the Church over the years and I started to spiral down into a very bad place. A place that forgot all about forgiveness, or maybe never knew about it at all.

So that night when we got home, I did a forgiveness letter to the Catholic Church for all of the transgressions against humanity it has perpetrated over the past two thousand years. It was a hard letter to write and I didn't want to write it, but I did.

The next day I felt somewhat better. Less nauseated. Less angry. More at peace with the whole thing and grateful for the new Pope who is kicking ass and taking names and, hopefully, undoing some of the damage that has been done in the name of the Church.  

[REMINDER: My FREE class on The Violet Flame Meditation is TUESDAY! Would love to see you there!]

Thursday, January 23, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 22 - Ways of Practicing - A Course in Miracles


"You are spirit. Whole and Innocent. All is forgiven and released." --A Course in Miracles

A Course in Miracles (ACIM), as many of you probably already know, is a text for self-study to retrain your thoughts. It teaches that the way to universal love and peace—or remembering God—is by undoing guilt through forgiving others.

The workbook consists of 365 lessons - one for each day of the year - and is meant to be done consecutively, each lesson building on the principles learned and experienced in the previous ones. Doing "the Course," as it is sometimes called, is a great way do forgiveness work.

I have also used the above line from the Course as a forgiveness tool by itself.

When someone does something that triggers me, I simply think of them and repeat this line: "You are spirit. Whole and Innocent. All is forgiven and released," until I feel better. If feelings come up again later, I repeat this process.

If you are interested in learning more about A Course in Miracles, visit the ACIM website or pick up one of the following books:

A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
The Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard
A Course in Miracles by the Foundation for Inner Peace
Anything by Ken Wapnick

This week I will be sharing more forgiveness quotes from ACIM so stay tuned....

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 20 - Ways of Practicing - The Violet Flame Meditation





True confession time. I had grand plans for this post before our 30 Days of Forgiveness began. I was going to have a downloadable copy of my version of The Violet Flame meditation available for anyone who is participating. I was even hoping to record an MP3 of the meditation that I could make available.

But here I am, the day before the post is scheduled, and I have neither of those things done nor the time to do them today. Last night I did the Violet Flame meditation before I went to sleep and asked to know what this post should look like when I woke up this morning. And this is what I got: Tell the truth. Forgive yourself. Let it go.

So, that's what this post is all about.

I didn't get any of these things done, however, I do have some information to share about the Violet Flame so here goes.....

Another great way to do forgiveness work, is to use The Violet Flame Meditation.

The Violet Flame Meditation was given to mankind by Ascended Master Saint Germain for the purpose of transmuting negative energy. I learned this meditation from my friend Cindy, a gifted psychic and fellow seeker.

I have been practicing this meditation for around ten years and have found it to be extremely beneficial in helping me to release negative energy, loosen blocks in my physical body and open my heart. I use it almost daily to keep both my physical body and my energy body (aura) cleansed and clear.

In lieu of downloads or an MP3, I will be offering a FREE Violet Flame Meditation class next week in honor of 30 Days of Forgiveness. The class will be held on Tuesday, January 28th at 7:00pm at Mosaic Coffeehouse in Seattle, WA.

In this class you will learn how to connect to Source, ground yourself into the center of the earth, to place protection around your physical and energetic bodies to protect yourself from negative energy in your environment and to use the Violet Flame as a tool for forgiveness.

Would love to see you there!

[If you would like to experiment with The Violet Flame on your own, follow either of the links above for information on ways to practice. If you give it a try, please do let me know how it goes.]

Monday, January 20, 2014

30 Days of Forgivenes - Day 19 - Wisdom from Martin Luther King, Jr.



"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love." --MLK, Jr

Saturday, January 18, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 17 - Forgiveness Focus - Parents

 

"Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them." --Oscar Wilde

This is one of my husband's favorite quotes about forgiveness and he reminds me of it often. Both in the context of me as parent and me as child.

Another great one about forgiving your parents is: "Our parents job is to wound us in the exact way our soul needs to do its work in this lifetime." (Bevin Keely)

This weekend think about your parents, or about yourself as a parent, and see if there is any forgiveness work to do here. I would be surprised if you were to find that there isn't, given the important and karmic nature of these primal relationships.

As you work with your parental relationships, try and find the balance between blame and forgiveness. Release blame, but without ceasing to hold them or yourself accountable for bad behavior; practice forgiveness, but without denying your needs or feelings.

It is in this space that healing takes place. I do not believe that true forgiveness is possible without doing some work here.

I will be holding all of you - and your parents - in my thoughts this weekend.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 15 - Wisdom from Kaypacha


If the outer world is illusion,
The other, but my reflection,
Then I am the source of my problems,
And I carry within the solutions.

The post I had originally scheduled for today did not get posted, so I guess that means it is not ready  and needs a bit more work. 

While I attend to that, I thought I would share this with you. We ARE the answers to all of our problems!

[If you are into astrology, check out Kaypacha's weekly Pele Report on his website, New Paradigm Astrology.]

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 14 - Wisdom from Gary Renard



"You have to learn how to turn the tables on the ego. The only way to forgive what is within is to forgive what seems to be without." --Gary Renard, The Disappearance of the Universe

We are approaching the two-week mark in this forgiveness experiment and I don't know about you, but my Ego is starting to fight back.

Ever since the guilt bomb that was dropped on me last weekend I have noticed that I am more susceptible to being triggered. I have been getting hooked by emails and by comments and, of course, by my own thoughts, all week.

Yesterday, while in the pool swimming laps, I finally realized what was happening:  I have been engaging my Ego with all of this forgiveness work and my Ego is starting to fight back. 

The Ego relies on the Mind to provide the fuel for its fire. When we quiet the mind with yoga, meditation, writing, forgiveness work or other practices, our Ego quiets down as well. For awhile.

But eventually the Ego starts to fight back and it can feel as if one is moving backwards. "I am doing all of this spiritual work and I feel WORSE. Sad. Angry. Depressed. WORSE." It can be very disconcerting and disappointing, which is exactly the point.

The Ego is trying to derail you. To get you to stop practicing and to go back to your old ways of feeding the fires of your mind yourself so that it doesn't have to work so hard to wind you up. Don't give in!

Respond to the Ego with even more meditation, more yoga, more forgiveness. Eventually you will reach that place of quiet once again. And then the place of fighting back again. And so on and so on and so on.

It can be likened to peeling away the layers of an onion. With each layer that comes off, you get closer to the center (your center), even though it doesn't always feel like it (and it can cause you to shed a lot of tears).

When times are tough and the Ego is taking you for a ride, you have to trust that you are making progress and wait for the next period of renewed quiet. It is during these times that you will notice the gifts that greater consciousness has brought.

I am looking forward to reaping the benefits of this 30 days next week or next month, even as I wrestle with my Ego today.

[I took this photograph of a section of The Berlin Wall, in New York City last year. The drawing is what I think someone's Ego might look like.]

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 13 - Ways of Practicing - Ho'oponopono


I love you. I forgive you. Please forgive me. Thank You. --A prayer for forgiveness based on the principles of Ho'oponopono

Ho'oponopono, which means "to make right," is an ancient Hawaiian ritual of reconciliation and forgiveness. Traditionally it was practiced by a priest or among family members of someone who was physically ill. Today it is practiced by a family elder or by the person themselves.

There are many modern teachers of this process including Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona and Dr Ihaleakalá Hew Len, who used this process on his psychiatric patients when nothing else seemed to work.

One of the key principles of this practice is 100% responsibility. You recognize that you have created this situation - whatever it is - and you are asking the other person for forgiveness as well as offering it to them. All forgiveness is self-forgiveness in this process.

To practice Ho'oponopono using this prayer, simply bring to mind the person or situation that is troubling you and repeat this prayer: I love you. I forgive you. Please forgive me. Thank you. 

Repeat the prayer as often as you need to until you feel the energy around this person or situation start to shift and continue to repeat it until you feel that the healing is complete.

If you experiment with Ho'oponopono this month I would love to hear about your experience either here or on Facebook. Click here for another example of how to use Ho'oponopono for the purpose of forgiveness.

[This post is dedicated, with love and gratitude to my counselor, friend and mentor, Dr Cat Saunders, whose support has meant the world to me over the past few years and whose support of the 30 Days of Forgiveness project has been amazing. 

In addition to being a counselor, Cat also has a line of greeting cards and she has donated three packages (containing 5 cards each) of her Ho'oponopono cards (featuring the above graphic) to be given away to three of our 30 Days of Forgiveness participants. 

If you have joined our Facebook group, you will be automatically entered to win. If you are participating outside of Facebook, please let me know in the comments section and you will be entered to win as well. Winners will be notified at the end of the month and prizes sent out shortly thereafter. Thanks Dr Cat and thanks to all of you for your commitment to forgiveness!

If you want to learn more about Ho'oponopono and the concept of 100% responsibility, I recommend this interview with Dr Ihaleakalá Hew Len by Dr Cat. You will also find many other interesting articles on her website, as well as information about her counseling and other services. Check it out!]

Monday, January 13, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 12 - Wisdom from Ted Mosby

 

"...[S]ometimes you'll make a pit for someone in your mind, but the only person that ends up in that pit is yourself." --Ted Mosby "How I Met Your Mother," Season 8, Episode 11

If you've ever watched "How I Met Your Mother" (HIMYM) you know that the cast occasionally dabble in the woo-woo, especially in the context of "listening to The Universe" and the main character, Ted Mosby, has had some quotable moments over the years, including this one that seems appropriate to recall during our 30 Days of Forgiveness.

Not coincidentally, HIMYM airs its first episode in 2014 tonight and if you've never watched you might give it a try. (Old episodes are available to stream on Netflix.) But you'd better hurry, Ted is scheduled to meet the mother on March 31st when the series ends!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 11 - Wisdom from Cheryl Strayed


"The reality is we often become our kindest, most ethical selves only by seeing what it feels like to be a selfish jackass first."  --Cheryl Strayed from her book "Tiny, Beautiful Things"

Saturday, January 11, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 10 - Widsom from Zig Ziglar


 "Every obnoxious act is a cry for help." --Zig Ziglar

I have always loved this quote, but it is really resonating with me this morning.

As many of you already know, my husband and I are currently hosting my mother-in-law in our home after a recent car accident. Luckily she is very easy to be around and things have gone pretty smoothly so far.

This morning, however, one of her friends dropped by to bring something she needed and out of the blue lobbed a guilt bomb at me.

BOOM!

All of a sudden I was in a guilt-bomb-induced rage. And not just at her, but at everyone. No one was doing enough. Everyone was annoying. And a situation which had been going well was all of a sudden rendered untenable by one obnoxious act.

Thank GOD it is Forgiveness Month. I knew immediately what I had to do - and who was up today - and I told my husband I needed to go to my room.

Once I did the Forgiveness Letter, I was able breathe again, see clearly again, and move forward again without resentment coloring my every moment. 

The obnoxious really are asking for our help, crying out for it, and it takes every ounce of consciousness one can muster to respond and not react. I am still working on it, and not doing it perfectly by any means, but I didn't go off on anyone this morning and that feels like a victory of sorts.

Thank you for committing to forgiveness with me this month. Knowing you are all out there forgiving made it easier for me to do the right thing - the forgiving thing - this morning.

Friday, January 10, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 9 - Forgiveness Focus - Strangers


"To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it." --Confucius

Forty years ago I "auditioned" to paint the new mural at our local library. My best friend and I went together. She was chosen. I was not.

When the librarian told me I had not made the cut, I was crushed and in my kindergarten mind I came to the following conclusion: I am not an Artist.

Over the years I reinforced this idea by repeatedly saying things like, "I can't draw," "I'm not good at art," "I'm not very creative."

And sure enough, I came to believe it.

Today I have decided to forgive this librarian - who I am sure has/had no idea the impact of her decision on one little girl's life - and to let go of this false belief about myself.

I AM AN ARTIST.

I may not use oils or watercolors on a canvas, but I create everyday - in my kitchen when I make dinner for my family, on the blank page when I sit down to write, and sometimes even with pen and ink on the back of the electric bill. 

We have all been the victim of "unintended consequences" and I am sure we have all made decisions that had unintended consequences for others.

What decision or comment on the part of someone else led you to make an overly harsh or incorrect judgement about yourself? Are you ready to let it go through some forgiveness work? I would love to hear your story about forgiving someone who didn't even know how badly they hurt you.

~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~

When I went to do my forgiveness letter to the librarian today, I realized the person I actually needed to forgive was my 5-year old self who made the assumption that she wasn't good enough. She's carried that guilt long enough. 
 
Another reminder that "All forgiveness is self-forgiveness." Thanks Universe!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 8 - Wisdom from Gill Hicks



 "The cycle of revenge has to stop and it has to stop with me." --Gill Hicks, who was injured in the July 7, 2005 London bombings.

I have always been inspired by people who can forgive large hurts - rape, murder, genocide - while I struggle with the everyday things that happen to most of us.

Gill Hicks is one of those people who have taken something huge and horrific and turned it into something hopeful and positive.

After being severely injured (both her legs had to be amputated below the knee) in the London bombings of 2005, she founded the non-profit M.A.D. for Peace, which believes that empathy is the foundation for a sustainable peace and strives to create empathetic communities. 

The cycle of revenge can stop with each of us when we choose empathy and forgiveness over revenge and bring that empathy into our communities every day.

World peace starts with inner peace. World peace starts with each of us. World peace starts now.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 7 - Wisdom from "Life"

"Revenge is a poison meant for others that we end up swallowing ourselves." --Life, Season 1, Episode 2

I love it when I see the woo-woo showing up on television. It makes me feel like my fellow seekers and I are making a difference, like the messages are seeping in, ever so slowly, to mainstream culture. And, also, it just makes for great TV.

"Life" is a perfect example of that.

On one level a police procedural drama, the underlying story - about a cop who is framed for murder, goes to prison, discovers ZEN Buddhism and is then exonerated years later - is one of hope, redemption and a whole lotta woo-woo. I highly recommend it, if only for the great quotes like this one. (Well, and Damian Lewis, who ain't too hard on the eyes....)

[Although "Life" was cancelled after only two seasons, it is available to stream on Netflix and Hulu.]

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 6 - Ways of Practicing - Mettā Meditation




May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be well. May you be peaceful and at ease and may you be happy.  --Mettā meditation

If you are struggling to keep up with the daily practice of The Forgiveness Letter, don't despair, there are many ways to practice forgiveness that don't involve copious amounts of writing.

Each week I will be introducing one or two new forgiveness techniques that you can try and use during your thirty days.

Today's technique comes from the Buddhist tradition by way of Mary Morrissey. The Mettā (or "lovingkindness") meditation is used to cultivate loving-kindness towards Self, others, and eventually toward all beings.

It is generally practiced in this way:

First say the Mettā for yourself, "May I be filled with lovingkindness. May I be well. May I be peaceful and at ease and may I be happy." Then for someone close to you, "May you...." Followed by your family "May we...." and finally for your enemies "May they...." and all sentient beings, "May all...."

In her Prosperity Plus program Mary Morrissey tells the story of a young man who comes to her full of anger because his wife and his best friend are having an affair. He is ready to do something violent and drastic and she advises him to say the Mettā for his friend and his wife every day. To say it even when he doesn't mean it.

He does as she suggests and when he comes back to check in a couple of weeks later she can see immediately that he has changed. He is no longer seething with anger and he says that although he does not like what they did, he now realizes that he loves them and really does want them to be happy.

If you give it a try, let me know how it works for you. You can do the whole cycle (I, You, We, They, All) or just repeat as quoted above, thinking of the person who are forgiving today. Say it as many times a day as you can for the best result. May you be well.

Monday, January 6, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 5 - Forgiveness Focus - Enemies


"I destroy my enemy when I make him my friend." --Abraham Lincoln

Most of us probably wouldn't admit to having "an enemy" after the age of 8 or so, maybe high school at the latest, but sometimes people we encounter can feel like enemies.

Sometimes the person who feels like our enemy is our partner, or our best friend, or our child or sometimes even our Self.

Other times our enemy is someone we don't even know: the woman who bumps into us in the grocery store and doesn't apologize, the man who honks loudly at us in traffic, or an unknown person halfway around the world who doesn't share our values or our world view.

Whether you call a person your enemy or not, I believe we all have people who feel like our enemies, at least some of the time.

This summer I had the privilege to travel to Tokyo, Japan with my son and his fifth grade class. A few days into the trip we dropped the kids off at a school in the suburbs of Tokyo to stay with a host family for five days.

From the moment we arrived at the school, the students and teachers and families greeted us like long lost friends, despite our history as enemies.

When we met again a few days later to celebrate the end of the homestay together I stood off to the side and watched as families greeted each other and kids said "farewell," to their new brothers and sisters.

Tears came to my eyes and I was completely overwhelmed knowing that this would not have been possible a mere fifty years ago. And I was so proud of our two countries for all of the hard work - and all of the forgiveness - that made this moment possible for our family.

Later that summer my son's host father wrote a card to us in which he said pretty much the same thing.

Today I challenge you to think of someone who feels like your enemy, or has at some point in the past, and try to make them your friend through forgiveness.

They may never be a friend you'll tell a secret to, or invite to tea, but by shifting the energy around your relationship, perhaps they can feel more like a friend than like an enemy when you bring them to mind. 

And just like that, your enemy has been destroyed.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 4 - Wisdom from My Husband on the Occasion of His Birthday

"Remember: Everyone in any situation is reacting out of their own fearful, neurotic, insecure, awkward and scared place." --Mark Simmons

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Friday, January 3, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 2 - Making a List and Checking it Twice...

 

"Anything that annoys you is for teaching you patience.
Anyone who abandons you is for teaching you how to stand up on your own two feet.
Anything that angers you is for teaching you forgiveness and compassion.
Anything that has power over you is for teaching you how to take your power back.
Anything you hate is for teaching you unconditional love.
Anything you fear is for teaching you courage to overcome your fear.
Anything you can’t control is for teaching you how to let go and trust the Universe.”
--Jackson Kiddard

As you think about who to forgive this month, you may be overwhelmed with so many names you don't know where to start. Or, conversely, you may feel like you have no one to forgive, that there is nothing from the past you are holding onto. Whatever your first reaction to the question, Who do I need to forgive? you can use this quote as an aid in making your own "forgiveness list."

Is there anyone who annoys you? Angers you? Brings up feelings of fear or hatred or abandonment? Let your feelings be your guide as you move through this month.

Make a list of everyone who comes to mind and work through it one-by-one. Or wake up each morning and ask yourself (or your guides), Who shall I forgive today? and see what name pops into your mind. Choose one person who has really hurt you and work on them for a few days, or even all month. Or, forgive yourself this month for all the ways you have hurt others, and yourself.

However you work, that is how you should work. Don't spend a lot of time worrying about the who, just do what comes up in the moment you sit down to write. And that will be the perfect person to forgive today.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

30 Days of Forgiveness - Day 1

 

"I'm not okay. You're not okay. But that's okay." --Colin Tipping, author of Radical Forgiveness

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, or if you read my previous blog, you know that Colin Tipping is my forgiveness guru. He has written a couple of absolutely fabulous books on the subject, leads workshops on Radical Forgiveness all over the world, and has even created a forgiveness worksheet that you can use to forgive others and set yourself free (these worksheets can be downloaded for FREE on his website).

And this is one of my favorite quotes on forgiveness. I love it for its truth and simplicity. I am not okay, at least not all the time. And neither are you. But that's okay. It has to be, because IT IS.

At the same time, we all want to do our best, to improve and to move forward into ever greater expression of our TRUE SELVES. The selves we want to be, the selves we are meant to be, the selves we were before we were hurt and mistreated and became confused about the world we were born into.

A truly great way to move in this direction is to do forgiveness work and that is what I am going to focus on this month: 30 Days of Forgiveness.

Over the next thirty days I am going to forgive thirty people - one per day - I invite you to join me.

To do this, I am going to use an exercise that I have adapted from one of Colin Tipping's books. The exercise is called The Forgiveness Letter.

For this exercise you will need 2-3 blank sheets of paper, a good pen or pencil (one that will not run out with a lot of writing), and 20-30 minutes of uninterrupted time.

This uninterrupted time is very important because the exercise may stir up some intense or negative emotions and you will want to give yourself time to fully process and move through them before you have to interact with anyone. I know uninterrupted time can be hard to come by, especially if you live with others or are a parent, but please take this time for yourself.

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The Forgiveness Letter

Choose the person you are going to forgive and start a letter to them, Dear __________.

***Before we go any further let me emphasize YOU ARE NOT GOING TO MAIL THIS LETTER. This letter is for the purposes of healing and forgiveness only and should not, under any circumstances, be mailed.

The Forgiveness Letter has three parts:

Part 1: Telling Your Story

This is the story you have been telling yourself - and probably many others - about what happened. The "facts" of the situation from your perspective. In this part of the letter you are not yet looking at the situation from their point of view or trying to understand their perspective, you are just telling your side of the story. Do this with as much detail and honesty as you are comfortable with. Feel free to use salty language and say what you really feel. Do not hold back. Really let them have it in this section. When you feel that you have completely exhausted everything you want to say, start a new paragraph.

Part 2: Seeking Understanding

In this part of the letter you try and see the situation from their perspective. What circumstances or situation(s) in their life - either past or present - made this seem like the right thing to do TO THEM? What behaviors on your part may have contributed to this situation and their behavior? Is there anything you have learned since this happened that has changed your view of the situation, even a little bit?

In this part of the letter you can still express your feelings, sense of hurt and disappointment, but you try and see the bigger picture a little bit and start to bring a little bit of objectivity and distance to the situation. What would you tell a friend in a similar circumstance to help her/him understand what happened?  You are not excusing the behavior of the person who hurt you, merely trying to understand it. When you feel this section is complete, move on to paragraph three.

Part 3: Finding Forgiveness

In this part of the letter, you look for the greater meaning in this situation, you try and see it from a Universal or Spiritual perspective. What did you learn from this situation? How did this learning benefit you? What was the gift that you received from this event or relationship? What gift do you believe they received? If you believe - as I do - that every situation has some good in it, what is the good here? You may have to dig deep if this is still an open wound for you, or if the situation was severe or long-lasting. Do the best you can do right now. Some hurts are going to take more than one letter to reach complete forgiveness.

If you have been struggling with something that someone did for a long time, if it is a very deep hurt (severe abuse, abandonment by a parent, etc.) you may want to spend the entire thirty days on this one person. Do a letter every day and see how things shift and change over the thirty days. Allow yourself to move in and out of remembering and pain, discomfort and release, ultimately to forgiveness.

The Releasing Ritual

Once you have finished the letter it is time to do a releasing ritual in order to let go of this situation. There are a variety of ways to do this and feel free to come up with one of your own that is not listed here. Here are a few ideas:
  • Burn the letter in your fireplace
  • Shred the letter and throw it in the recycle bin
  • Rip the letter into many small pieces and discard it
  • Wet the letter and throw it on your compost pile
  • Write the letter in a word processing document and delete it
Whatever releasing ritual feels right for you is the one you should use. Just make sure that it is safe (do not use fire unless you are certain there is no danger of it spreading) and that you do it.

 ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

I am so glad that you have decided to join me on this 30-day journey of forgiveness. I would love it if you would post your thoughts and experiences both on this blog and on the 30 Days of Forgiveness Facebook page as we go along.

Feel free to use any other forgiveness ritual that you know of either in conjunction with or instead of this exercise. I will be sharing my experience, my favorite forgiveness quotes, and some other forgiveness tools (including the Violet Flame Meditation) on this blog over the next month. Check back daily for inspiration and information!

And, please, if something comes up that feels too big to process or go through on your own, do get some help. Call your local crisis line, find a counselor in your area or simply talk to a friend. Don't go it alone, help IS available!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

I cannot think of a better portent than this day for you...
A clean slate
A fresh canvas
A pristine and absolutely cloudless dawn
Nothing to intervene between you and those potent rays
Of the dawn of a new day.
It bodes well...

May you travel smoothly across these waters
through the unerring Guidance from on High,
and may all that was best in the year gone by
be preserved and all the rest be eclipsed
by the best that is to come!

-Jonathan Marshall

Happy New Year! Happy New Day! 

In a class I took last year I learned this little nugget of truth: you can live 90 years or you can live one year ninety times. 

I don't know about you, but I want to live 90 years - or more! - with each year being better than the last. Fuller. More expansive. Less burdened by my negative thoughts, habits, memories and experiences. 

To that end I am proclaiming January 2014 Forgiveness Month. It is time to release, let go and LOVE ON! (Like moving on, but even better....) 

If you know you have some forgiveness work to do right now, or if you just want a truly clean slate, please join us.

Tomorrow I will post more information about the 30 Days of Forgiveness, including instructions for the forgiveness exercise. Until then, peace.