Forgiveness is a very powerful spiritual practice that is often very difficult to accomplish. Whenever we feel we have been wronged by another person, or society, or even life itself, it is human nature to carry anger and resentment with us, sometimes for many years. The problem is that such bitter feelings are destructive to us physically, emotionally and spiritually.
When we carry resentment with us, even though it may be buried deep inside, it is as if we are constantly hauling around a heavy backpack, filled to the brim. We can devote a great deal of our life energy toward maintaining or even covering up this negative burden. Then, when we become ill and need additional energy in order to heal our physical body, we may find that we are lacking sufficient life-giving energy and are therefore unable to recover our health.
To get and stay healthy in all aspects of your being, you need to begin the process of forgiveness, sooner rather than later! To successfully forgive everything you are carrying with you might take quite a long time - that's why should start now and begin "unpacking" that baggage you are toting.
Here are a few strategies to help you with this difficult process:
1. Keep a journal where you identify the major issues in your life for which you need to practice forgiveness. Remember that you may need to forgive yourself for past actions and failures, others who have harmed you or even God, if you feel spiritual anger over events in your life. As memories come to the surface you may need to keep adding to this list.
2. As you review the events on your list, practice deep breathing, prayer or meditation to help you remain calm and centered. Enter the witness state, if possible, and simply observe that this is how your life has unfolded.
3. Refrain from placing blame for anything that has occurred in the past. Keep your mind open and remind yourself that you don't know why things have happened as they have. Remain willing to accept the past just as it was, with no regrets or resentments.
4. Practice letting go of the past by performing rituals to help you visualize that act. Releasing helium-filled balloons to the sky is one symbolic act of letting go (however it is not very friendly to the environment.) You might also throw flower petals into a stream or lake, light a candle or small campfire and watch it burn to the end, or, when you are ready, tear up your list of grievances and burn it in the fire.
5. Planting a "forgiveness garden" is one ritual that can signify your work on letting go of the past. Tending to the flowers you have planted, pulling weeds and tilling the soil can be acts that support your growth in compassion and tolerance.