The Path of Forgiveness

I have learned firsthand that emotions like resentment and bitterness are most damaging for the person who holds onto them. However, this truth does not necessarily help one to forgive and let go of the pain. Depending on who and/or what needs to be forgiven, and how much pain was experienced, the mind and body will often feel a tremendous amount of resistance to perceiving the experience differently. The mind may have a long list of reasons about why it is justified in holding onto the anger, hurt, etc. This is simply how the limited and fearful ego operates. The good news is that even with a megaton of resistance coming from the body and mind, the heart knows better. No matter what our mind tells us about what happened, our hearts know that all of our life experiences provide us with an opportunity to evolve and remember our divinity. From this knowing, a space for healing and forgiveness is created. So how does one align with this knowing of the heart when there is so much suffering in the mind and body?

First, it is especially helpful to utilize the power of prayer. When the ego has a death grip on your painful past, the infinite power and grace of Spirit can help to release it. By praying for help, you are acknowledging that your mind cannot come to forgiveness on its own and this creates space for a miracle. On my own path of forgiveness, this is the prayer that helped me: “Dear God. I have absolutely no idea how I can forgive this person. I cannot even fathom it. However, I know that all things are possible through you. Please help me. I am willing to be open to the possibility that I can forgive but I need help, a lot of it. Thank you in advance for answering this prayer. Amen.” A prayer that acknowledges the limits of the mind and expresses trust in the power of Spirit creates space in our hearts for the seeds of forgiveness to be planted.

Second, it is important to have patience on the path of forgiveness and to understand that the more pain you experienced the more resistance there will be to forgive. Finding out your partner of 40 years is leaving you for your best friend is going to be harder to forgive than if your partner forgot your birthday. Therefore, for some individuals a great deal of patience is required to allow the healing process to evolve within the flow of divine timing. This is an important step because impatience can create an unreasonable timeline for the healing process, which then creates more suffering. Instead, compassionately accept yourself and the process for what it is, and trust that it will move forward at the perfect pace. Being patient with yourself and this process is an act of gentleness, generosity, and self-love. The more you can let go of any expectations for how long the forgiveness process will take, the more easily it will flow. A great affirmation to cultivate patience on the path of forgiveness is “I surrender to the divine timing of life and release the need to force an outcome. The more I let go of expectations for when healing will happen, the more room I create in my life for miracles.”

Another way to transform resistance to forgiveness is to accept and safely express any anger that is present. Most people who feel they have someone or something to forgive will have anger about the experience, which is completely normal. The idea that anger is not spiritual or that it is “bad” is not only false, but can also create a huge roadblock on the path of forgiveness. Ultimately, we must feel and express our anger so that we can move beyond it. The only way out is through judging, shaming, or denying anger which will only block the healing process. By consciously accepting and allowing our anger and by helping this intense emotion move out of the body, we create space within for healing and forgiveness. There are many ways to safely facilitate the movement of anger or rage out of the body, such as through crying, screaming (the car is a great place for this), shaking, kickboxing, bioenergetics exercises, dancing, chanting, and yoga. Since it is important to make sure that you release the anger safely, it can be helpful to work with a therapist or healer who can offer you additional guidance and support.

On my own path of forgiveness, I experienced the tendency of the mind to resist forgiveness to the bitter end, but was also blessed to experience the magnificence of the heart, which only knows love and forgiveness. I learned that prayer, patience, and the acceptance and release of anger could create space within the mind and body for the power of forgiveness to work miracles. I also learned that holding onto past pain is most damaging for the person who holds it, so forgiveness is first and foremost a gift you give yourself.

Erin Stohl

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About the writer: Erin Stohl

Guided by the path of the heart, Erin supports others on the journey of remembering their True Self. She combines traditional, somatic, and spiritual psychotherapy with energy work, nutrition support and other mindfulness-based practices.

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