I woke up with forgiveness moving through my heart-mind. Forgiveness has been in my attention a lot lately; a student asked me to write about it, it’s showing up in books I’m reading, and then there’s tea bag wisdom… oh! and! the song that came on this morning for our second to last MIE gathering…. from the ho’opopono prayer, “I’m sorry, please forgive me”.
the art of being kind towards ourselves, and tending to the hurts of our hearts.
That’s my definition of forgiveness, in this moment anyway; this is how I connect with forgiveness. I know it’s different than how the industrial religious/spiritual complex looks at it. I realize it’s not how most of us understand it, having been raised in the punitive, moralistic, fixing and binary culture that finds it’s ways into just about every nook and cranny of our existence.
Traditional /dominant methods of forgiveness hyper focus on the other, almost entirely leaving out our own precious hurts/hearts, as well as our peace! We remain stuck in thought/shame/blame fixation when we are not able to include our hurts/hearts.
I choose to connect with forgiveness in a more liberatory way, where it is not about shame, blame, fault, punishment, or isolation. I choose to look at it through a lens of kindness- starting with ourselves. I find this approach decreases the harm that we extend to ourselves, unintentionally of course, which, as a harm reductionist, is important to me. In this path, forgiveness is less about the other and fixing the past, and way more about tending to the tendrils of what we’ve experienced, and giving space for it.
…being kind towards myself… tending to my hurts of my heart… When my heart is closed to life/myself/other, when I am in judgement of life/myself/other, I can almost always trace it back to some kind of internal war going on with me, back to conflict, and underneath that war/conflict lies a hurt of some sort. X did X/ X happened, and damnit, it was painful! Yesssssss. So painful.
That’s good honesty right there. To slow down, and pause with that honesty is transformative, and maybe even revolutionary, because the industrial religious complex rushes right on past that authentic honesty- which is where peace actually lies- and jumps to shame, blame and punishment, keeping us trapped in war/conflict… and hurt.
It’s revolutionary to slow down because we’re not a culture that knows how to slow down enough to tend to our hurts/hearts. We’re a culture that denies our hurts/hearts, and then denies, ignored, avoids, and/or manages most the tendrils that that hurt is connected with. We are a disembodied culture, living mainly in our thoughts about things, rather than knowing how to feel. And so when we feel a hurt, we’re off to the races thinking about it, which just keeps the war/conflict going.
Being at war with ourselves is painful; it would be in our best interest to, instead, stay with that honesty… stay with the admittance of hurt. And then, slowly learn that it is not dangerous to feel what we’re feeling… just really uncomfortable. It would be empowering to know we are safe to slow down and be with what we’re experiencing… to feel what is here with this hurt, instead of attempting to catapult over it.
When we discover how to safely feel, when we learn that we can safely feel, we don’t have to think or war so much- i.e. we don’t have to live our lives managing and judging everything, and instead, we can drop down beneath that into feeling. When we’re safe to feel, we can come closer to honesty, come closer to being authentic about the hurts we have. When we learn that we’re safe to feel those hurts, we can discover how to be kind with ourselves… and our hurts/hearts. This is an act of kindness… of love towards self… it allows us to discover and experience the gift of somatic spacious allowance. Out of the web of shame and blame, judgements/our internal war shifts, and we find ourselves in a space of loving kindness with ourselves, and with our pain. Forgiveness.
Being able to slow down with our hurts is empowering, and it allows us to have a trust with life, instead of feeling victimized by life. Bit by bit, we experience a sense of peace with regards to horrible things that we’ve experienced. Not because we’ve simply “moved on”, but because we’ve slowed down into the space of allowance for our experience. Tending to our past hurts takes time and exquisite care, and usually the guidance of a somatic trauma professional. Summoning up patience for the process can be challenging, and, is also part of the process of extending compassion towards ourselves.
Part of the forgiveness process may or may not involve whose who have harmed us… that component of the process may be in what “comes next”… what comes after we first tend to ourselves and our precious hurts. That’s another blog post. Let’s reclaim the art of being kind towards ourselves first.
To read a little more about my past writings on the topic of forgiveness, read here.