2019 is over and for many it was quite ok to say goodbye to this very intense year. I know that for many, myself included, 2019 was a challenging year in many ways. If we look to the astrology, 2019 was a year of clearing out and letting go, a year of loss and making space for the new to come. For me personally 2019 will be remembered as a year of much clearing, loss and grief. I believe though, because I have experienced it, that through hard times is when we can grow and transform the most. The hard and rough times open up a space in us where we, if we are willing and brave, can get in touch with our truth, our purpose and our light. The light of healing and forgiveness that lives in all of us. I believe and hope that 2020 will be a year of healing and growth. The astrology tells us that 2020 will also be a challenging year in many ways, but in a different way than 2019. 2020 is about the road ahead. After all the clearing out of 2019, 2020 marks a new beginning. Looking to the future with a very open space in our heart - what will this new space be filled with? I have contemplated the concept of forgiveness for a few months, realising that if I am to truly let go of the past and move forward, I have to understand what it means to forgive. Not just others, but also myself. To forgive myself I need to take responsibility for my part, to acknowledge the role I have played, to own my truth. If you, like me, have had a challenging 2019 and are still struggling with completely letting go, this one is for you.
Forgiveness is a word we hear thrown around a lot, but how can we embody forgiveness and truly forgive? As a concept I think we all understand what it means, but to embody it, truly, is another thing entirely. Here’s what I’ve learned and know:
WE DO NOT FORGIVE FOR THE SAKE OF ANOTHER.
When someone have hurt us or betrayed us in some way and we are battling loss, the concept of forgiving can seem almost impossible. It can feel like we're being asked to condone the behaviour itself, the event itself, like we forgive for the sake of the other person, as if to say that it was OK. This is the biggest misunderstanding of all when it comes to forgiveness.
We forgive for our self and the further development of our own hearts. Forgiving is a lightening of the burden. It’s a choice, to give ourselves the gift of freedom from the thoughts, beliefs, stories, feelings and emotions that weigh us down.
TO FORGIVE REQUIRES EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND MATURITY.
The wisdom and knowledge of love, self love and the dual nature fo this world we are part of. To understand that as one thing dies, something new is reborn. To know, in the body, the heart, that love can never disappear or be lost, because that is the nature of energy. It transforms and moves, but is never lost. To understand that the only constant is change, to accept this fact fully. And last but not least; it requires that we have developed self love, and in that are able to nurture ourselves and cater to our own needs and dreams.
TO FORGIVE IS LINKED TO THE ART OF LETTING GO, WHICH IS AGAIN LINKED TO THE ABILITY TO SURRENDER.
This is like a muscle that needs to be trained. This is why we practice yoga and meditation, to learn to surrender fully to our bodies and to the moment and whatever it holds. To give up the fight. Resistance is what creates suffering. As the Buddhist quote goes: “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. The fact is that whatever we resists, grows in strength, and that there is in fact very little in this life that we can control. What we can however control, is how we respond to the things that happens to and around us. We can be in control of our own inner space, if we are willing to understand it. If we are willing to surrender to ourselves, both shadow and light, we will find the truth of our hearts. But it requires that we surrender, that we let go of trying to control. I like to picture this as sinking. That may sound kind of grotesque, but in ancient traditions water symbolises our emotional body. The deeper the water, the deeper the emotions. So I like to visualise myself either floating in water, not trying to control where the waves or currents are taking me, or visualising myself sinking down through water just releasing my muscles and releasing control completely, and let whatever comes, come.
FORGIVENESS IS HARD.
And that's ok. Everything worth anything requires some work and sacrifice.
As I said, an important ingredient in forgiving is to be able to let go. If you’ve had your heart broken or experienced loss, a part of forgiving the person who hurt you is to let them and the past go. But if the love has been deep, it is also necessary to let go of a part of ourselves in the process. This is a natural part of the life/death/life cycle; to let something die in order for something new to be born. It’s a necessary and most natural part of the wild nature. Yet, we have been taught in our culture that after death comes nothing. This is simply wrong, but still so ingrained in us that letting go, letting something die, is very hard because we do not yet have faith in re-birth. It is no secret that if we have loved someone deeply and in our core, a part of us remains there with them. This is not a bad thing, it is simply just so. But in order to forgive, move on, allow for something new to be re-born, we must let this now outdated part of ourselves die. This is the Phoenix rising from the ashes; to let ourselves be cleansed by the fire burning away what is no longer serving us, and be reborn.
Intellectually I know this: forgiveness does not mean that we accept the wrongdoing that was done to us, it does not mean that we say “it’s ok, what you did to me”. No. It means we choose to unburden ourselves of the weight and darkness of holding on to grudges, jealousy, shame, blame and resentfulness. It means, again, that we choose to let these destructive emotions and thoughts go, to make room for that which serves our highest good. And, it is hard. Again as part of our culture and the way we were raised, self love is not something we learn through growing up, through our education. It is something, if we are willing, we have to learn as adults. Part of self love is to choose the best path forward for ourselves. Part of choosing a path of healing, love and growth for ourselves is through forgiving ourselves and others and let go of what no longer serves our highest good.
Personally right now, as I’m contemplating this, my practice is to sit with my feelings and to explore them a bit deeper every day. It is also to not try to change how I feel, as if there was something wrong with my feelings. Rather I'm practicing not to react out from them, but rather hold space for it all and let the emotions flow through me. As with everything in this life, if we want to learn something, even become good at something, we need to practice. Inner work is no different. I try to push my comfort zone a little every day, taking baby steps deeper into my own shadow side. It is a humbling journey, and I find myself taking deeper breaths than ever before. It is also exciting, exhilarating even- because in the shadow we learn to truly know ourselves. In the shadow is where we can find our brightest light. There’s strength there, and power. It’s so empowering to choose to no longer be afraid of myself and my own shadow.
I haven't figured it out yet, this thing called forgiveness. But I think I'm getting a little closer every day, and every day there is purpose, light, love, meaning and beauty, when we stay open to receive it.
To sum it all up, I leave you with another wonderful quote; “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die” and conclude that I am a work in progress, and that is ok. It’s the willingness to learn and evolve that is the beginning of the journey to transformation.
I wish you all a beautiful and transformational year ahead!
Blessings for your 2020!