If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive. – Mother Theresa
Probably you know these little angel cards with nice words on it like: brotherhood-sisterhood; trust; patience and so on and so on. And one of these words is also: Forgiveness. I really can’t count the times I picked up this card. It is as if that word is a red line in my life. It brings me the question: what do I have to forgive or who do I have to forgive?
For a year I visited a counsellor on a regular base. And I also was on regular bases doing with rebirthing sessions.
Rebirthing is a powerful, safe, and transformational breathing technique which reduces stress, increases energy, and allows more ease and pleasure into your life and relationships. In a rebirthing session the breath will be guided in a manner that creates a deeper awareness of body, mind and spirit. By learning to breath consciously and fully, you are able to more easily discover the core beliefs held in your mind. This expanded level of consciousness stimulates your natural ability to transform old limiting thoughts and patterns.
During these processes I learned about where my reactions, that sometimes weren’t very nice, came from. These related to my childhood and how I was raised up by my parents. My mother was suffering, very badly from rheumatism for about 35 years (till she died). My father, sister and me took care of her. During this illness it was very difficult for me because I experienced my mother being very demanding of me.
My father couldn’t be the father he wanted to be and because of her illness my mother couldn’t be the mother she wanted to be.
That is why I believed I couldn’t be the child I wanted to be. Sometimes I felt that I needed to fight, to scream to get the attention I wanted and needed. Screaming helped but I didn’t get that attention I wanted. I got only angry reactions just because of my yelling and screaming. Or is it more that I believed I couldn’t be the child I wanted to be? If I think about that question I have to admit I could play as a child. And there is the question: what kind of child I would have been.
I feel more about the fact I couldn’t be the child when I was in my teenage years: 13 through 15. In that period my mother started to suffer from rheumatism. And regularly I needed to stay at home if there was no one to stay with my mother. Father had sometimes to work in the evening. And staying home wasn’t the choice I wanted at the time. This is a double feeling. It was forced by my parents and I took the choice of staying home. I knew that if I left I would have trouble with my dad.
As a grown up, ‘ I hope I am grown up now’, I unconsciously made trouble for getting attention. Of course I got the wrong kind of reactions, the wrong attention.
From rebirthing sessions (and also the counselling) I could link my reaction, as a grown up, to my childhood. I started to realize that my parents could only raised me up in the way they knew how. I realize they have done their best. And I know they loved me very much and still do although they both are dead.
Making this link was so important for me, and I know now that if I will be in situations which challenge me I only have to take a deep breath, to make the link to my childhood. This will help me to react more calmly. But I have to admit, sometimes I also realize that it didn’t always work, because my reaction was quicker than the breathing or the thought. But that is also a part of me.
And I suddenly realize that, for the last half year (or something like that), I didn’t get the word “forgiveness” anymore when I took an angel card. But I don’t know, maybe there is more I need to forgive. If so, then the breath will help teach me.
Benefits of forgiveness:
In a ceremony, during my stay in the Findhorn Community, I forgave and accepted my parents. I am grateful for what they have done for me and realize that they couldn’t be the parents I wanted them to be.
I know they loved me deeply. Forgiving them took a pressure away within me. A pressure I wasn’t aware of.
Not having this pressure anymore gave me a feeling of more inner freedom and also some feeling of ”it’s ok now” and “everything is alright”.
And maybe in all what I have written so far I have to forgive myself because of limiting myself in my thought of not being the child I wanted to be. In fact I was the child I wanted to be or better I choose for. It was my OWN choice.
What I have written about my parents in this article, I could feel in rebirthing sessions. So I forgave them.
Now it’s time to forgive myself for limiting myself in my thoughts. More of these thoughts have been unconscious. Another session will help me discover them.
What do deeper levels of forgiveness look like? What are the blockages to forgiveness, how to use the breath to become aware of not forgiving?
If someone is not able to forgive fully he/she will be limited in living. If you can forgive you are more open to other persons and, more important, open for yourself. If you don’t you are not able to see the truth about yourself. You will be more stuck in your patterns.
One way to do this is through the power of breath.
By doing a rebirthing session the breath comes up in your chest. Your chest will be more open. That means more freedom, more space to let thoughts come in (also unconscious thoughts). And it will be easier to forgive what needs to be forgiven.
Here are some personal benefits I got when I started to forgive:
When I realized my parents couldn’t be the parents I wanted, because of the situation with my mother, I also realized my parents have done for me what they could do for me. By knowing this I know that they were closer to me than I was aware of before. That gives me a good feeling.
A vital benefit of forgiving for me, is also to be able to learn more about myself. This makes it easier to make links between my behaviour now and as a child period. I can then now be more open to other people, learn about my own truth (what do I want in life i.e.), and experience less stress.
When I can forgive I can see how things work. I can also see my part in the situation and I can make choices from a place that is more clear and serves me better. I also think there is no need to forget. In my opinion it seems that if I forget it is possible to make the same “mistakes” (mistakes in the widest context of the word )
I feel now if I can’t forgive I am more restricted and I shut myself down for solutions and more ease.
What if there is a situation I am not able to forgive ? This is a gift that makes it possible for me to recognize the places I need to learn from.
In an article from Michael B. Ross’s book – The Path to Inner Freedom, he wrote:
My mother and I have been estranged for more than 15 years now. As someone who was physically and emotionally abused as a child, I have been carrying around a lot of anger and bad feelings toward her. I came slowly to the point in my life when I realized that the anger that I continued to harbor toward my mother was eating away at me; destroying my soul.
A close friend of mine sent me several books on forgiveness that I found very enlightening. In one book, Forgiveness: A Bold Choice for a Peaceful Heart, the author, Robin Casarjian wrote: “Resentment has been compared to holding on to a burning ember with the intention of throwing it at another, all the while burning yourself. When we feel resentful, we feel strongly the pain of the past again and again. Not only does this take an obvious and dramatic toll on our emotional well-being, it can powerfully and negatively impact our physical well-being as well.
The anger and pain that I had hidden deep within myself for so many years was destroying me. I had developed a mental illness, the roots of which, my psychiatrists believed, were embedded in the abuse that I had received as a child. My world was falling apart. And it was all because I was unable to put the past behind me. I wanted to change; I had to change, but I didn’t know how.
I so badly wanted the promise that Casarjian wrote about in her book: “Forgiveness holds the promise that we will find the peace that we all really want.
It wasn’t easy for Michael to forgive and a long difficult time started. He also writes:
It was a period of great anguish, despair, and pain, in which I spent many months soul searching, both alone and with close friends. Facing your past, especially a painful past, is never easy. But in time I began to understand one of life’s greatest and most elusive truths: That true inner peace is only found when you realize that you must change yourself, not the people who have hurt you.
(So far Michael B. Ross)
I would like to share some of what I have learned about forgiveness:
Forgiveness is a form of realism
Forgiveness is a sign of positive self-esteem
Forgiveness is letting go of the past
Forgiveness is no longer wanting to punish those who hurt us
Forgiveness is moving on
I mentioned also the benefits if I am able to forgive. If I am not able to forgive than the opposite of all the benefits will happen.
Only knowing the fact that I can forgive makes my world/life better. That’s why Forgiveness is so important.
I discovered an amazing amount of articles and books written about Forgiveness. I asked myself : Why is there so much?
And I think that the answer is simple : without forgiveness there will be illness, stress, lack of freedom, blockages in life, not loving yourself, mistrustful, closed to other people, failure to grow personally, denying your capabilities and many reasons more.
It is valuable and important to look in your heart and ask yourself who or what you would benefit from forgiving.
Frank Mannens, April 2005
Published in issue 100 of BREATHE magazine, June 2005 and Spiegelbeeld, December 2005 issue