26 Minutes of Forgiveness Meditation from The Monroe Institute

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Meditation Roadmap

A mix of verbatim transcript and captured essence in my words. My added thoughts are in [braces].

00:00 The nature of forgiveness

Forgiveness is a profound healing process for both parties. The greek word "συγχώρεση," translated "forgiveness," literally means to physically let go of something, to release our grip on something. In forgiveness, this is a mental and emotional letting go. We're releasing the grip our mind has on some past event or occurrence, and the judgments and grievances we're holding. We're releasing our beliefs about how others should have behaved or how they'd done wrong.

When we've been hurt, we make the offending party responsible for making us angry. But when we look more closely, we see that our upset is coming from how we've interpreted their behavior. In truth, we are making ourselves angry by our own interpretation of how they behaved - the story we're telling ourselves about what they've done and how bad they are and how they could have acted otherwise. So it's our judgments we're holding against them that are creating our feelings of anger.

When we hold a judgment, the person we are hurting the most is ourself. We feel bad and create additional suffering for ourself. True forgiveness comes from letting go of the judgments we are holding, releasing the grip they have on our mind. The one thing that can really help this is to put ourself in the other person's position. If we could truly understand their own motives, why they did what they did, what they were thinking and feeling, their fears and pains, the judgments they might have been holding, their own background and conditioning, all the influences in their life that led them to this point in time, then we might begin to understand why they did what they did. [We do not have to agree with or condone what they've done in order to contemplate why they may have done it. Understanding is not agreeing. Understanding is simply understanding.] We can begin to recognize that, although they may not have behaved as we think they should have, they were, in a sense, behaving exactly as they should have, given all the influences that led up to this. We could say it is their own confused state of mind that actually led them to behave this way. If they had seen things differently, they might not have behaved as they did.

The Dalai Lama once said, "the goal of every person is simply peace of mind." Forgiveness begins when we recognize that the person who hurt us was actually wanting exactly what we want. In their own way, they were seeking to be more at peace, to ease their own suffering. But because of their own inner confusion, they set about ways of doing this that interfered with our own attempts to find peace of mind. And so they caused us to be suffering more. So putting ourselves in the other person's shoes develops understanding which leads to empathy and compassion.

Against this backdrop, I offer this simple prayer for forgiveness that stems from the Buddhist tradition. Just let yourself relax and notice how you're feeling, the sensations in your body. Become aware of any tension and soften. Let it dissolve. And as you relax your body, relax your mind also. Enter a deeper state of ease and rest with the sounds you hear in the background. Let these phrases sink into the core of your being. Let them sink into your heart.

07:04 Forgive others for harm they've done to you

If anyone, through their confusion, has harmed me in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly, I forgive them.

10:35 Ask for forgiveness from others for harm you've done to them

If, through my own confusion, I have harmed anyone in any way, either knowingly or unknowingly, I ask for forgiveness.

14:27 Forgive yourself for harm you've done to yourself

For all the ways that my own confusion has led me to harm myself or be unkind to myself, I forgive myself.

17:39 Forgive yourself for not yet being ready to forgive

If there is someone I'm not yet ready to forgive, including myself, I forgive myself for that.

21:30 Closing Prayer of Peace

May I be at peace.
May those I love and cherish be at peace.
May those whom I have judged be at peace.
May all people be at peace.