Understanding the power of forgiveness

Understanding the power of forgiveness

During my last holiday, while I was traveling in India, I had the great pleasure of reading a fabulous novel called Shantaram, written by Gregory David Roberts.  The opening paragraph of that book had a powerful effect on me.

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you have got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.”

I thought it was such a compelling statement, because by forgiving he was able to find peace and be liberated even though he was still in prison.  And more importantly, it was a choice he had made and it came from within.

Grudges and resentments are powerful emotions that cause physical discomforts and ill health.  The more I understand about the interdependence between the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and energy bodies, the more I appreciate the power of forgiveness as a crucial healing tool.

In 1931 Dr. Edward Bach wrote in his book Heal Thyself that “Dis-ease is in essence the result of conflict between Soul and Mind and will never be eradicated except by spiritual and mental effort.”

Physical illnesses are often brought on as a result of an emotional issue.  They often start in our mind with a thought, which affects our emotions and by extension our physical body. The mind thinks and then, an emotion is born that is felt in the body. Emotions are energy in motion.

According to my concept, there are three types of emotions, namely, releasing, depleting and toxic:

Releasing emotions are important for our mental state.  They give us pleasure in our life and help us to release energy.  For a healthy life we need a good daily dose of these emotions.  They are important for our mental state. Among others there are, joy, enthusiasm, laughter, empathy, love, peace, tolerance, contentment.

Depleting emotions are stronger emotions such as sadness, shame, hopelessness, fear, and worries.  This type of emotions creates a very thick and heavy prana and often gets stuck in and around the body. These emotions are part our human experience.  I cannot imagine a mother not worrying about her child. They come and go, according the different seasons of our life.  However, when we become obsessive the energy created by this type of emotion can sink deeper in the physical body and cause illness.

A good way to release depleting emotions is using positive affirmations and prayers.   Having a spiritual practice and connecting with the spirit within, taking the position of the observer, developing a better understanding of the bigger picture help us to be detached from depleting emotions and when all fails, surrender.

Toxic emotions are what the Hindus call the six enemies (shadripu): namely anger, hate, jealousy, pride and greed, guilt.  These emotions are very toxic for the body and poison our inner organs.  They thigh us to our past and usually linger on forever and it is very hard to get rid them.  They come back to the surface when we least expect it.  It is what Eckhart Tolle calls the pain body. Each moment you cling to toxic emotions due to past trauma, you create a new sequence of thoughts and emotions. It’s a vicious circle.

In order to heal this kind of emotion you need to make peace with the past.  Until you give up your attachment to a past incident you cannot be liberated.  For this kind of emotions, forgiveness is the best medicine.  Forgiveness is the only way to attain freedom and peace and go on with your life.  When you are willing to forgive, you give up resentment, revenge and obsession and you become free from the bitterness and pain.

Forgiving yourself is much harder than forgiving someone else. And yet, forgiving yourself is imperative for your health and to find peace.

What is often misunderstood about forgiveness is that you can forgive the other without excusing their action.  Forgiveness does not release the other from their responsibility nor does it minimize or justify the wrong that was done to you.

I once read an article about a couple that had forgiven the murderer of their only daughter. I was young at that time and did not understand. How could they do it? I remember what the father had said. He had done it for himself so he could continue to live.

Forgiveness is a decision to let go and diminish the grip that these powerful emotions have on you.  It is not something you do for the other. It is a gift that you give to yourself.  Forgiveness is a way of opening yourself up to the potential of true healing when done sincerely.

What has worked for me is surrendering to a power greater than me.  This is the affirmation I use when I go through a trying time.

I release you to the Universe (name of the person)*

I am free, you are free and I bless you with all my love.

I repeat this affirmation just this like mantra over and over. Every time the situation comes to mind, in my yoga practice, meditation, etc, until I feel closure.  It’s quite powerful and you will be surprise of the result.  It often feels like a miracle.

I hope this helps, in peace and light,

Linda Madani

* You can also release a situation