Breathing Forgiveness

| holidays, meditations, musings |

Sunday morning we sat with an amazing group to “Get in the Mood” for the Days of Awe. In our exploration of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur themes, we spent a lot of time contemplating and meditating (literally) on forgiveness. It’s a touchy subject, forgiveness. I think because it’s scary- it can be unbearable to feel responsible for the suffering of others, and it’s also frightening to allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to open your heart and forgive someone who has hurt you. I think this is true for forgiving yourself and even God, too.

This morning, I realized that asking for forgiveness and offering forgiveness is kind of the same thing. What I mean is that acting unskillfully, hurting someone, whether directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, usually stems from a place of fear and hurt inside ourselves. In order to inhabit our full culpability and truly ask for forgiveness, we have to see our own pain, hold our own broken hearts- which is exactly what we’re doing when we offer our own forgiveness to someone that has hurt us.

In this time leading up to the High Holidays, it’s a common practice to go to our loved ones and not-so-loved ones and ask for forgiveness for any misdeeds or mistakes we might have made in the past year. It’s a beautiful practice, humbling and powerful. I’d like to add on that we do the same practice with ourselves.

Here, it will only take a few seconds:

As you sit at your computer, deepen your breath. Imagine a time in the past year that you acted unskillfully. Allow yourself to feel that weight of responsibility. Think to yourself, “if I in any way was a cause of suffering, whether consciously or unconsciously, I ask for forgiveness.” Now, call up a time in the past year where you have felt hurt. Again, allow yourself to inhabit this feeling. Say to yourself, “if I have been harmed, whether consciously or unconsciously, I offer my forgiveness.” With your next inhale, focus on receiving forgiveness, and on your exhale offer your forgiveness, completing each cycle of breath with your own cycle of forgiveness. Offering and receiving, breathing in and breathing out.

With each breath, embrace the possibilities of forgiveness, returning, and the inevitable transformation that will happen because it just can’t not.