Kenny Chesney has a song that says something like, “I’d do a lot of things differently.” I remember years ago I accidentally hit the call button on my cellphone driving into work while I was belting this song. I didn’t know all the lyrics yet, so my voice would ebb and flow with volume. My friend got a four-minute rendition of me attempting to sing this song. She retells this story in pure joy and laughter with tears in her eyes every time. The humor at that point in my life helped to release the frustration and sadness I was feeling in the fact that there were many things from my past I wished with all my being I would’ve done differently.
This past year, I’ve done a lot of things differently. I’ve traded in watching tv shows on Saturday mornings to read and write for spiritual growth. I’ve woken up every morning since April 4th, to remind myself to breathe and settle before the day begins. I’ve made time to bring myself down at the end of the day with another sit before I rest in prayers. I have started to allow myself the space and forgiveness to not have “the perfect meditation sit” after a long day. Which brings me to a meditation I had such a hard time with for months, and the whole point of this piece. Something clicked last night.
The meditation on The Heart Revival member’s page called, “Learning to Flow”. Argh. Lots of time and space to sit in nothingness. When my mind is active, I become super angry at myself, which makes the sit even worse, and my internal ticking becomes more heated. I have felt I just couldn’t do it. Until last night. Something happened. The meditation started the same way with my mind and body. Ugh. I was getting agitated. Long week. Friday evening. Lots of chaos and noise throughout the days at work. Trying to quiet everything inside of myself in a room of pure silence feels like two sheets of sandpaper rubbing together inside of me. So uncomfortable. Can’t turn things off. That is until last night when the word “forgiveness” popped into my head right near the end of the 17-minute sit. I was getting quite frustrated because I just couldn’t stop moving. Cushion not right. Too cold. Head hurt. Shoulders tight. Not being present at all. Until, I repeated the posed mantra in my head:
May I accept myself as I am.
My I accept this experience as it is.
My I rest in all that I find today, moment to moment.
Literally, a 28 second mantra filled with pure richness. I heard it before, I just wasn’t listening. I went, “Jeez, that’s what forgiveness is. Resting in forgiveness is all about the love. And, that’s what I need to do right now.” Forgiveness is acceptance. It’s taking the time to understand where you’ve been. Understanding where you’re at in the moment—now. Understanding of where you want to go. Not punishing or beating the heart until it bleeds. Gentle pressure of the hand to the chest, closing some chapters with awareness, not forgetfulness, from the past, whether it be a day, week, month, or years before. Cooing yourself with tender hushes and shushes after long days. “Massaging the heart” in the understanding that you are aware and will keep trying to evolve within and without.
For many years I walked around with the statement, “I should’ve known better,” laden with guilt, filling my joints, my neck, my mind, my heart, weighing my spirit down. The weighing me down is what was holding me down after the avalanche, under the boulders of internal self-loathing writhing in disdain. Last January I had to put myself on that mission of love, of forgiveness, of, “How do I do this?” thing of embracing myself, so I can be me. Unburdened. Last night, I felt like I hit the mother lode because it was the first time I understood it, allowed it, and embraced it. I crumbled in relief.
The gasp of complete fresh air is real and brings me to my knees in gratitude daily. But, it takes time. Everyday, understanding a little bit more of how to self-soothe, “massage the heart”, and love who we are and what we are given. Unique. Special. All a part of a beautiful mandala of harmony and flow. And, when one of us is stuck, we have to pause and contemplate alone to begin to allow for forgiveness within, but then to step out with others to reconnect, and find the flow without again. Forgiveness is definitely not a new term to me. How I grew up, the word flew around all over. But, what it truly meant, I thought you just hold on to what you did under lock and key and leave it there. Not understanding the true process. Lack of showing yourself mercy is not even a wall. It is a coffin. A place where the body depletes, and the spirit becomes stagnant. Forgiveness is life. True forgiveness within started happening when I entered Sangha. I was ready for it. While I needed time alone, I realized that forgiveness and growth also come with true reflection of the process, many times with other people. To break out of isolation, shame, and guilt. To speak specifics, thoughts, and feelings in a safe place. To allow it all to release in what feels sometimes an endless amount of salty tears.
Life is scary sometimes. We are supposed to be superheroes. The scariness comes in when we realize we have this unbelievable ability to feel. It doesn’t seem to fit at times with society’s definition of what a superhero is and can do. But, to stay soft, to stay open, to realize we are so intricately made, is the true strength. To forgive yourself and others to me is one of the greatest gifts we can offer. What better way to allow the freedom to create precious space to breathe and flow. May we all find the keys to unlock who we are on the path to growth and loving who we are in this mandala of I am, you are, we are. Love and light to all. Keep going.
Resting in Forgiveness: It's All About Love