Forgiveness Meditation Tips

By Prashant Billore


Questions about Forgiveness from a Yahoo Group Participant

"My main questions are:

Phrase Options: A few times it was mentioned that there are multiple phrases you can choose from instead of the first "I forgive myself for not understanding." Is there a suggested list or is it more of a personal one? Also the suggested phrase (forgive for not understanding) does not resonate with me, at least not yet. I don't feel I really understand what forgiveness means/feels like and something like 'I forgive myself for making mistakes' resonates much more true to me. That said, when doing that, should I be visualizing times that I feel I need to forgive myself for(i.e. past mistakes)? Without bringing those up, it feels very empty for me. 



Answer:
     Thanks for your post and clearly articulated questions. You may want to do an online retreat or residential retreat to clearly know your path. It seems like you have read the booklet on forgiveness meditation. I suggest reading it a few times. This is the best resource on forgiveness I have come across. 
 

 

 



"Buddha's map" by Doug Kraft also has a small but useful section on Forgiveness. 

>Phrase Options: A few times it was mentioned that there are multiple phrases you can choose from instead of the first "I forgive myself for not understanding." Is there a suggested list or is it more of a personal one? 
     Regarding phrases: The instructions provide 4 phrases (listed below). Lot of emphasis is placed on being sincere about them. It is also advised that you can make up your own phrases which resonate with you. 
1] not understanding, 2] for making mistakes, 3] for causing pain to myself or anyone else, 4] for not acting the way I should have acted.

>Also the suggested phrase (forgive for not understanding) does not resonate with me, at least not yet. 
     Per the instructions, you need to repeat the phrases over and over and then rest your mind on the feeling of forgiveness. Instructions also say that mind will resist and say that this is useless, not working etc etc. We need to keep 6R'ing those. The forgiveness practice requires a lot of patience but it is all worth it. 

>I don't really understand what forgiveness means/feels like 
     The feeling is like feeling of loving acceptance. It is soft and a bit subtle initially. It's like accepting what you did or what happened in the past. There is no way you can change the past. There is acceptance without condoning or forgetting. 

Feeling of forgiveness is a nice warm feeling of acceptance with some joy and a lot of comfort in it. Lot of mental/emotional pain will come up but there is acceptance and comfort around it. So you view this pain with significant level of objectivity.

Forgiveness meditation is also a smiling meditation. It is not meant to feel like punishment or detention :-) If it's feeling like that then we are likely not following the instructions correctly. 

Just like loving kindness, joy etc, the feeling of forgiveness has ebb and flow. It does not remain constant. So you keep 6R'ing distractions and come back to it and rest your awareness on it. 

>That said, when doing that, should I be visualizing times that I feel I need to forgive myself for(i.e. past mistakes)? Without bringing those up, it feels very empty for me. 
     I don't think you need to put a lot of effort into visualizing. Just be patient and repeat the phrases over and over, the images and feelings will come up on their own. You 6R them and come to feeling of forgiving. It's not easy but with practice it works. 


>Apologies: Is there any room for apologies in this meditation or is it somehow implicit in the forgiveness? When another person comes up and I try to forgive them I don't feel anything, but I do have a deep wish to want to apologize to them for the suffering I brought about. So far the place I have felt the most warmth of heart is when that person finally forgives me back at the end of the practice.
     Per the instructions, forgiveness "can clear away mental blocks that pop up from old attachments or dislikes towards various people, or events that happened to you in your past life experiences". Doug Kraft once described these blockages as a plumbing issue. I like that analogy. Mental blockages prevent the metta to come up and flow. So if you think, apology is going to help unblock and address the plumbing issue then you should try it. I don't see any reason not to try it. And you learn from your experiment. 

There is was a major blockage in mind which got unblocked just by mentally saying I am sorry to my sister for not helping her when she needed help. And then I cried for several minutes. It took a lot of effort to come to the point to saying it. But in the end, there was a huge relief. 

I would say though that you should be careful not to make a big deal out of apology. Because then there is a danger of going into self-pity etc. 

There is also a lot of emphasis on using forgiveness practice in your day-to-day life. Forgive every little thing which bothers you and smile :-)


Good luck and best wishes
Prashant :-)

​Forgiveness Meditation Instructions here