November 5, 2013

Please Forgive Me.

A Meditation on Forgiveness

A couple of years ago, I learned three simple, powerful Tibetan Buddhist mantras for working with forgiveness. Want to give them a shot?

Sit comfortably in a meditative seat, either on a cushion or a chair. Breathe deeply. Get centered. Open your heart. Repeat each of the following mantras silently in your mind three times.

For whatever harm I have caused others, may they forgive me.

For whatever harm others have caused me, may I forgive them.

For whatever harm I have caused myself, I forgive myself.

Notice—with compassion, without judgement—what comes up.

Perhaps a specific person or incident will arise in your mind’s eye. Or maybe you’ll just experience general feelings of regret, sadness, longing, self-righteousness, or whatever it may be.

Let’s break down the mantras a bit further.

For whatever harm I have caused others, may they forgive me.

This one is tough. I have to let go of control. I can’t make anyone forgive me.

Like that ex-friend… one of my best friends, the one I had a falling out with four years ago? She never forgave me, despite many efforts on my part. I am no longer attached to her ignorance of me. I can only send out the wish that she forgive me for whatever harm I caused her, however unintentionally.

For whatever harm others have caused me, may I forgive them.

As the Buddha teaches, holding onto anger only burns the angry one. Let’s quit burning ourselves, yeah?

Yes, forgiving others takes more than the repetition of a mantra. Like most things, it is a process. Beginning the process of forgiving means beginning to let go of our grudges, anger and hurt. The best (and only) time to start is now!

For whatever harm I have caused myself, I forgive myself.

We are typically hardest on our own selves. We can say the meanest, ugliest things inside our own minds—about our bodies, our weaknesses, our mistakes and regrets. More than anybody else on the planet, we tend to be our own toughest competitors and worst enemies.

I like the direct ending of this final mantra: “I forgive myself.” Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Just do it! If you don’t feel worthy of your own love and forgiveness. this mantra will be especially powerful.

Forgiving does not mean condoning. Forgiving does not mean denying that something wrong has happened. Forgiving doesn’t require forgetting.

It does mean rebuilding trust, as much as possible. And letting go of old baggage around the harm that was done to you.

Forgiveness is not always easy, but it is certainly liberating and ultimately a necessary ingredient in our lasting happiness and inner peace.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a heart-centered writer, teacher and creator of Yoga Freedom.

She has been a columnist on Elephant Journal since 2010 and has self-published inspiring books. She incorporates dharma, hatha, yin, mindfulness, chakras, chanting and pranayama into her teachings and practice. A former advertising copywriter and elementary school teacher, she is now a freelance writer and translator. Michelle learned yoga from a book at age 12 and started teaching at 22. She met the Buddha in California at 23 and has been a student of the dharma ever since. Michelle is now approaching her forties with grace and gratitude.

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