Tuesday, June 30, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 30 - Enjoy the Ride!

"Life is an adventure in forgiveness." --Norman Cousins

And so we end our second adventure in forgiveness together and continue on our individual adventures. I hope you will continue your daily forgiveness practice in whatever form speaks to you the most. 

When I started this thirty days I expected to be writing a forgiveness letter everyday. As the month progressed, however, I soon realized that this was not the forgiveness method that was resonating for me right now. 

Over the past thirty days I have written only two forgiveness letters, but each day found a technique that worked for me at that time, in that moment. Sometimes what we set out to do is not exactly what happens and that is why life is such an adventure. 

I wish you much happiness - and much forgiveness - on your adventure! 

Lara



Monday, June 29, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 29 - God's Greatest Gift

"Forgiveness is God's greatest gift." --Dan Brown "The DaVinci Code"

Some would say love, some compassion, some kindness, but it's all the same thing really. Forgiving, forgetting, looking in the mirror, doing your own work and letting others off the hook when you can. It's all love. It's all compassion. It's all kindness. It's all forgiveness. Whatever you call it, give it your all today. Only one more day in this round. Make the most of it. Who will you forgive today? 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 28 - Choosing to Live

"I have to learn to forgive or I will die from the hatred." --Kim Phuc, the young girl running naked from a napalm attack in the iconic Vietnam War photo

Saturday, June 27, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 27 - Accountability Counts

"Forgiveness is not about releasing someone from accountability for his actions. It is about us letting go of our anger and resentment."
--@TrainingMindful on Twitter

I think it is important to keep this in mind when working on forgiveness. 

Forgiveness does not mean you don't take care of business: set a boundary, get away from an unsafe situation, even call the police or take legal action. In fact, action can often be an important step in forgiving ourselves especially in cases where we were hurt precisely because we did not take action as soon as we needed to. 

Don't mistake forgiveness for being a doormat. Forgiveness is powerful and goes hand in hand with taking back your power in the world. 

What ACTION can you take today that will facilitate forgiveness? 

Friday, June 26, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 26 - Forgiving the past

Here is a forgiveness story via my friend Elisa: 

http://www.askotherstrustyourself.com/2015/06/25/finding-deeper-meaning-in-your-childhood-dreams/

Is there anyone from your childhood you still need to forgive? Try and forgive them today and set yourself free.

Here is my own childhood forgiveness story from the first round of 30 days of forgiveness: 

http://www.larasimmons.net/2014/01/30-days-of-forgiveness-day-9.html?m=0

Thursday, June 25, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 25 - Just like that



          [At Ekouin on Mount Koya]

"Hurt people hurt people." --From the movie "Greenberg" 

And just like that I have three days of free and constantly available wifi. The Universe does work in mysterious ways. Maybe the letting go was the key. Duh. 

Anyway, the need for forgiveness just keeps on coming. 

I left on a long journey this morning. A seven-hour oddessy from Tokyo to Koyasan (Mount Koya) by foot and train and train and subway and train and cable car and bus in a country where I do not speak the language or even recognize the characters of the alphabet. 

Thankfully English is widely spoken in Japan and Japanese people are inordinately kind and helpful. 

There was one bump in the road, however, before I even got on the road. I had sort of planned to make the first leg of this journey with some fellow travelers - although nothing was set in stone - and I happened to run into one of them as I was heading up to my hotel room to gather my things and depart. 

I asked if they were leaving right away, to which they replied, "Yes." 

"Okay," I said disappointed. This person paused. "Are you ready to go?"

I let them off the hook, "That's okay, I have to check my bags..." I trailed off, hoping they might offer to wait. Instead I got, "Sorry!" (in a tone that did not suggest true regret) as they rushed out the door. It felt like they could not get away from me fast enough. 

I stepped into the waiting elevator and started to cry. 

It was ridiculous really. I had planned on - looked forward to even - making this journey on my own, but when push came to shove I found I really wanted (needed) a bit of company at the start. 

It was not to be. 

As I cried myself out, I felt the anger stirring inside of me. "What a mean thing to do." "And after I have helped them out in the past." Etc. 

I also remembered fairly quickly that I am in the midst of 30 days of forgiveness and I knew that eventually I would find myself faced with the prospect of forgiving this. 

I called my husband who listened and supported me and gave me an out - "You don't have to do this you know." I knew, but I also knew I kinda did have to do this for myself. 

So I splashed some water on my face, grabbed my bags and headed out. 

By the time I was on the third train, winding my way through tree-covered hills on the way to the top of Mount Koya
I was almost ready to forgive. 

Certain "facts" started to rise to the surface, ready to be faced:

--I had not directly asked them to wait for me. 

--I had not made it a point to make a firm plan the night before. 

--I have a hard time asking for help. 

--I have been on the other end of that "Sorry!" more times than I would like to admit. How many times have I said it to a homeless person begging for money outside my local grocery store? Probably hundreds.

I tried to think about how the same outcome - not waiting for me - could have been okay and I realized that in that moment there may not have been a way. 

I was tired. I was fragile. I was feeling vulnerable and I just really needed someone to recognize that and help me out. It didn't happen. 

But I think it could have been less hurtful if this person had been willing to stop for a minute and face me. To say "I'm sorry," with some real feeling behind it. 

I know what I have to do and I am going to do it tonight. 

I am also going to try and figure out how to say "I'm sorry" to the homeless people in my neighborhood and to mean it. 



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 23 - Day 30 - Forgive Me

Dear Friends,

I will be traveling out of the country for the next two weeks and am finding that wifi is not as prevalent as I had hoped or assumed. I am not going to be able to post the final seven entries for 30 Days of Forgiveness and I need to ask you two things:

1) Please keep on forgiving - for the rest of this month and for the rest of your lives. Keep on forgiving! 

2) Please forgive me for not being able to finish what I started. I did the best that I could and I ended up falling short. I'm sorry. 

I leave you with what I can only assume are some awesome videos on forgiveness - a link to the TED playlist on forgiveness. Enjoy! 

https://www.ted.com/playlists/213/how_and_why_to_forgive


Monday, June 22, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 22 - Forgiving in the Moment



"To be forgiven is such sweetness that honey is tasteless in comparison....But...there is one thing sweeter still, and that is to forgive." --Charles Spur

This is perhaps the simplest of all forgiveness techniques, but it only works if you can really mean it in the moment you use it. I mostly use it for smaller things, or on days when I am feeling particularly evolved, or in a really good forgiveness groove. Here it is:

When something happens, someone is rude to you or says something hurtful or wrongs you in some way instead of reacting, just forgive them, right then and there, in the moment. Decide to let it go. And then do it.

If you find, after a few minutes or days, that the resentment is creeping up on you, that is an indicator that this incident may not be a "forgive in the moment" situation. If so, do some more traditional forgiveness work to completely release it. This tool will not work in every situation, but when it does it can save a lot of time and energy and feels great!

Have fun playing around with this one and Happy Day 22! <3 <3 <3

Sunday, June 21, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 21 - BE STRONG!



"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." --Gandhi 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 20 - The Other Side of Forgiveness

"It is usually excruciatingly difficult for people to admit explicitly that they have done wrong. We excuse ourselves. We refuse to admit the truth. We shift blame. We deny the obvious. We excel at rationalizing. But the person who wrenches from himself the unpleasant truth, 'I have sinned,' has performed a great and meaningful act." --Rabbi Shraga Simmons

I have been thinking a lot about apologies in the past twenty-four hours. About taking responsibility for your actions and admitting what you have done wrong. I do not think that this is necessary in order to forgive another person. I believe it is possible to forgive someone when they have not apologized or made amends if you have taken steps to make a boundary and take care of yourself in relationship to this person. However, an admission of wrongdoing and an apology can go a long way towards self-forgiveness.

Yesterday morning was our first "real" morning of summer. We did not have anything planned, we did not have any house guests, it was just me and the boys hanging out on a summer day. Eventually of course, the fighting began.

After separating the two of them I had a talk with each of them individually and it came out that my older son was upset about something my younger son had done the day before and was exacting his revenge. When I talked to my younger son he spoke first about what his brother was doing to him, but eventually he calmed down and said, "I know I messed up and I'm sorry, but I can't do anything about it now."

"But you CAN," I responded. And I went on to explain how much courage it takes to admit that you were wrong and to apologize for it and how I thought this might go a long way towards making peace with his older brother. He said he would think about it.

I don't know if he said anything to my older son or not, but I do know that in the moment he admitted his guilt to me, his energy shifted. He was already lighter and less emotional. He knew what he did was wrong and admitting it was ultimately very freeing.

Admitting you did something wrong is so hard to do and in the moment it often feels like it will bring more pain, judgement and recrimination, but speaking the words "I made a mistake and I am sorry," can be our ticket to freedom and self-forgiveness.

What can you admit - to yourself or to another - that would free you today?

Friday, June 19, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 19 - Nothing left to say

"How does one know if she [or he] has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him [or her]. You tend to have nothing left to say about it at all." --Clarissa Pinkola Estes

This really resonates with me. When forgiveness has truly been accomplished there is nothing left to say, no more story to tell.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 18 - Self-love and Forgiveness

"Forgiveness is an act of self-love," --Don Miguel Ruiz

Yesterday morning I was feeling so stressed out about everything I have to do this week that I was kind of a mess. My instinct was to get busy and start crossing things off my list, but a part of me knew that this was not the answer. So I stopped and listened to this little voice for a few moments.

It said that what I really needed was to slow down, to take care of myself, to rest, to eat a little something and to just relax for a while. "I don't have time," my Egoself protested. "You don't have time not to," the little voice replied. And so I did.

I went back to bed. I pulled the covers up and closed my eyes and started to meditate, to send energy to myself, and to rest.

After a while I did the Violet Flame meditation and included some forgiveness work. As I did the meditation, I got the message that self-love (and self-care) is one of the keys to forgiveness. If we all took care of ourselves one hundred percent, one hundred percent of the time, there might be nothing left in the world to forgive.

Taking care of yourself can look different at different times. Sometimes it is a rest, sometimes it is a run. Sometimes it is saying NO, sometimes it is saying YES. Sometimes it is letting something go, and sometimes it is figuring out what to add in.

However you do it, do it with the knowledge that it is good for ALL.

[N.B. Coincidentally (or maybe not :) my friend Elisa is leading 30 days of self-love on Facebook this month. It is a great complement to forgiveness work.]

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 17 - A tender look which becomes a habit

"Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit." --Unknown (from www.searchquotes.com

This quote really spoke to me today because it is why we so often refer to the spiritual path as a PRACTICE.

We practice love, patience, kindness, compassion, meditation and yes, forgiveness every day until it becomes a habit.

That is why I find these thirty day challenges so beneficial. They help me to develop good habits and to find that tender look.

LOVE * LIVE * FORGIVE * PRACTICE

Have a great forgiveness day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 16 - Snark Attack

"I realized that you can actually get mad and stop being mad in matter of minutes, as long as you set your mind to it. It was up to me to decide how I wanted to feel inside..." --Pernilla Hjort on www.tinybuddha.com

Someone was snarky on the phone with me this morning and it hurt my feelings. I was just trying to do my job, but to them I guess it felt like pressure.

Immediately I got the hit that this wasn't about me, that something else was going on: a sick kid, a broken refrigerator, a bad night's sleep, or maybe just a bad day. But it still hurt and I was having trouble letting it go.

I reminded myself of an article I read years ago that stuck with me. The article said that 80% of the time when someone snaps at you or does something mean to you it has nothing to do with you. 80%! That's a LARGE percentage of the time.

I try and think about that whenever something like this happens so that I can let it go as soon as I can, but this one was sticking. Probably because I have been short on sleep myself the past few nights and busier than is comfortable for me the past few days. I am feeling some stress and just needed to be appreciated for making the call, but appreciation is not what I got.

What to do?

As I walked the dog around the block, I made the decision to forgive.

I located the bad feeling in my body (it was just below my rib cage on the left side) and gave myself a massage as I walked, consciously focusing on letting it go. When I got home, I said the Buddhist forgiveness prayer from yesterday's post and felt my heart lift a little.

It is not completely gone yet, so I am going to do some yoga, take a salt water bath and continue to work on it. Because I want to feel good inside and that is MY choice.

[BTW...the article I quote above is fabulous and I highly recommend checking it out. :)]

Monday, June 15, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 15 - A Forgiveness Prayer



A BUDDHIST PRAYER FOR FORGIVENESS

"If I have harmed anyone in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly, through my own confusions, I ask their forgiveness. If anyone has harmed me in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly, through their own confusions, I forgive them. And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive, I forgive myself for that. For all the ways that I harm myself, negate, doubt, belittle myself, judge or be unkind to myself through my own confusions, I forgive myself."


Sunday, June 14, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 14 - Life is Long


"...[C]ultivate an understanding of a bunch of....things that the best, sanest people on the planet know: that life is long, that people both change and remain the same, that every last one of us will need to...be forgiven..." –Cheryl Strayed

Saturday, June 13, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 13 - Crushed

"Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heal that has crushed it." --Mark Twain

Here's a story from the forgiveness files this week:

FORGIVING WHAT YOU HAVE ALREADY FORGOTTEN
 
I am a member of a local free site where members gift items they are no longer using to their neighbors instead of sending them to the landfill. It feels so good to "gift" things to strangers in a way that I did not expect and a lot of the people on the site feel more like friends now that I have been doing this awhile. 

Last week my husband and I did a huge garage clean-out and as a result we had lots of items to give away. I posted them on the site and then let my intuition and The Universe decide who should receive each item. 

One of the items was a desk which we had not used in years and have no place for now or in the forseeable future. Only a couple of people were interested and when I looked at the comments I heard the name "Serena" (not her real name) and decided to gift it to her. 

I had seen her name on the site before and it sounded vaguely familiar to me, but I could not place her from her profile photo so I figured maybe I had once known somebody with a similar name.

When she came to pick up the desk I did not recognize her, but as we loaded it and chatted, I just couldn't shake the feeling that I knew her.

After everything was loaded and she and her family drove away it finally came to me: she was a former customer at a place I had worked a few years ago. And not a nice one. In fact, she had been pretty horrible to most of us who had to work with her and we had all tried our best to avoid her. 

As the memories came flooding back, I also remembered that her husband had seemed like a pretty mean guy back then whenever anyone had to interact with him. While loading the desk into the car, he had not said a word to me or looked at me or introduced himself to me, which was weird for this group. 

For a split second I regretted that I had given the desk to her. Why should I give something to someone who was so mean to me? Her mere presence in the office back then had changed the energy of the place, and not for the better. 

In the next second, however, something shifted, and I was grateful to have given her the desk. 

I was grateful that I hadn't recognized her and that I had been kind to her, because when I really thought about it I wasn't hurting anymore from what she had done. In fact, I had completely forgotten about it. It didn't have the power to touch me anymore, but I did have the power to make something positive out of that experience and perhaps to make life just a little bit better for someone I suspected was struggling quite a bit.
 

Friday, June 12, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 12 - Thank you


"True forgiveness is when you can say, 'Thank you for that experience.'" --Oprah Winfrey

Thursday, June 11, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 11 - An Eye for an Eye




"An eye for an eye and the whole world would be blind." --Kahlil Gibran

I love Kahlil Gibran. Love him! If you have never read anything of his before, please do yourself a favor and buy The Prophet immediately. It may be the only book you ever need to read about love, about parenting, about relationships, about life. Dude has it going on!





Wednesday, June 10, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 10 - Shades of Gray

 “I am tired of people saying that poor character is the only reason people do wrong things. Actually, circumstances cause people to act a certain way. It's from those circumstances that a person's attitude is affected followed by weakening of character. Not the reverse. If we had no faults of our own, we should not take so much pleasure in noticing those in others and judging their lives as either black or white, good or bad. We all live our lives in shades of gray.” --Shannon L. Adler

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 9 - The Labyrinth of Suffering


"The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive." --John Green, "Looking for Alaska"

For some reason I was not able to attach a photograph to this post. I blamed Mercury for being retrograde and then I forgave it. :)


Monday, June 8, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 8 - The Forgiveness Conversation


"There is a saying that to understand is to forgive, but that is an error....You must forgive in order to understand. Until you forgive, you defend yourself against the possibility of understanding....”
 --Marilynn Robinson

When I first started this round of 30 Days of Forgiveness, I was afraid I wouldn't have much to share in the way of new techniques for finding forgiveness. I had already shared my tried and true forgiveness tools, what could I possibly have to add?

As always, The Universe stepped in to fill the vacuum and as I have worked on forgiveness this month, new tools have been given to me to share with you. Here is one of them:

THE FORGIVENESS CONVERSATION

For those of us who are shy or introverted, hard conversations can be....well, hard. Fortunately, thanks to the malleable nature of time and space, it is easy to have hard conversations in the privacy of your own home - or even your own head - often with the same positive results.

To get started, find a comfortable meditation-like position and take a few deep breaths. Breathe until you are feeling centered and grounded.

Imagine the person with whom you have a grievance in front of you. Ask them if you can talk to them about the situation. This may sound ridiculous at first, but getting their consent is important and the exercise will go much better if you do, if only because you will feel more clear, knowing that they have given their consent.

If they do say "No," you can try again later or ask them "Why not?" Often this will shift things and they will be open to the conversation after all. I have found, however, that the answer is usually "Yes."

Begin the conversation as you would in "real life," or as you would hope to, since it is much easier to keep calm and speak clearly when doing the exercise. Speak your truth and tell them how you really feel about what happened. Ask questions and wait for the answer.

You may be tempted to discount what is being said because you feel as though you are speaking for the other person. Don't let this stand in your way. We all have access to the whole of human consciousness. You DO know what they want and need to say. Allow yourself to know. If you simply can't believe it, agree to pretend that you believe for purposes of the exercise and respond as if the person were really talking.

Continue to ask questions and speak your part until the conversation feels complete.

I like to end The Forgiveness Conversation with the Ho'oponopono prayer, but you may end it in whatever way feels right to you.

Just as with the Forgiveness Letter, you may find that you hear from this person in the next few days or weeks, or you may simply find that your feelings about the situation have shifted and you will know that it worked!

If you try this, please let me know how it goes for you.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 7 - The Many Benefits of Forgiveness Work



"The practice of forgiveness has been shown to reduce anger, hurt depression and stress and leads to greater feelings of hope, peace, compassion and self confidence. Practicing forgiveness leads to healthy relationships as well as physical health. It also influences our attitude which opens the heart to kindness, beauty, and love." --From the website www.learningtoforgive.com


Saturday, June 6, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 6 - Keep Your Heart Safe




"Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart."  --Unknown


Friday, June 5, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 5 - Be Nice to Your Ugly Parts


"...[O]ne day I stopped being so angry. 'You're just a little girl,' I said to myself. 'It's not your fault your parents died. It's okay you messed up. It's okay to be angry about your face and hate everyone. You're just a little girl. I forgive you, little girl, for all the bad things you did.' Like that. It's crazy isn't it? To have one part of your self be nice to another part. Like the nice part of my face saying nice things to the ugly part. After a while, the nice part and the ugly part stopped hating each other. There was peace inside of me...After that, I saw how the other girls were like me, and I started doing the same thing with them. I saw their ugly parts – and I tried to be nice to their ugly parts." --Francisco X Stork from Marcelo in the Real World

Love this quote about being nice to our ugly parts, and the ugly parts of others. This is such a big part of forgiveness. It is because of our ugly parts that we need forgiveness.

Today focus on forgiving your ugly parts, and the ugly parts of others.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 3 - The Fellowship of the Human Family


 
"We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the...human family." --Henry J.M. Nouwen


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

30 days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 2 - HOPE


 “Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” --Lewis B Smedes, author of "Forgive and Forget"

Is there an event in your past that you just can't seem to forget even if its effect on your day-to-day life in the present is fairly insignificant? Is it possible to heal this memory today by forgiving the person involved or yourself (or possibly both)? Is it possible to turn this painful memory into some kind of hope for your future?

Monday, June 1, 2015

30 Days of Forgiveness 2015 - Day 1 - Heal the World!



"The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world." --Marianne Williamson

Welcome to Day 1! I am glad you have decided to join me for this round of 30 Days of Forgiveness. I am calling it "30 Days of Forgiveness 2015" in order to distinguish it from the previous thirty days held in January of 2014.

For this round I am going to keep it pretty simple. I am going to write one "forgiveness letter" each day and then do a releasing ritual.

Feel free to use any forgiveness technique that works for you and to mix it up and use a combination of all of them throughout the thirty days. Here are links to a few of my favorites:


If you have a favorite forgiveness ritual, I would love to hear about it in the comments or on our Facebook page.

And remember, if something comes up during the thirty days that feels too big to process or to go through on your own, please 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!

Let the forgiveness begin!