True Forgiveness.

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I did a search of my blog today, using the word “forgiveness” as my word, to see if I had written about it before.  Five blogs came up, from the last 9 or so years, that had the word “forgiveness” in the title.  It is something that has been on my mind quite frequently over the last three years or so in particular.  And, the beauty of it is that my understanding of what forgiveness really is keeps evolving and changing for me.

 

I have defined forgiveness as release, acceptance, as letting go of judgment of others.  And, all of that remains true.  However, as I sat quietly this morning and did some reading, I realized that I have a new, higher level of understanding of what forgiveness means for me.

 

For me, true forgiveness means two main things.  First of all, it means that I forgive you for not being who I think you are, or want you to be.  Ultimately, as human beings, we are all unknowable.  No matter what I think that I know about my wife, my son, my friends or my coworkers, all that I “know” about them is just a story.  It is both a story that they tell me about themselves, and/or a story that I tell myself about them, based on my assumptions and beliefs.  So to practice true forgiveness, it seems, I have to begin by forgiving you for not being who I think that you are or should be.  If I am able to do that, then that means that I won’t take anything that you say or do personally, and I can more easily accept who you are, just as you are.  

 

It seems that the second component of true forgiveness is forgiving myself.  I get to forgive myself for having expectations, judgments and stories about the people in my world.  And, I also get to forgive myself, for having expectations, judgments and stories about myself.  Indeed, it I don’t forgive myself each time, I will feel even more prone to judging or having expectations of others.  That is because I will have full faith and belief in the story about that person or myself, so more likely to judge accordingly.  When I start from a place of forgiveness, it helps to let go of my expectations more quickly.

 

The other important aspect of true forgiveness, for me, is that it is gentle in its nature. When I judge another person, or myself, it only creates more damage, both in myself and the Universe, if I criticize or belittle myself for the stories that I have.  When I bestow forgiveness on myself and others, I can do so with no residue, so that it can feel clean, clear and loving.  I deserve that, as do the people that I encounter in the world.

 

Forgiveness is not just about setting others free from my judgments.  When I forgive, I set myself completely free as well.

 

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My Rules for Life.

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I have been a writer the majority of my life.  Whether I was writing stories, papers, or my blog, it has been an integral part of my life forever.  This past summer, I started writing in a journal, every day, which I had not done in many years.  I am still writing in it daily, and over the last few months have jotted down ideas that I had thought of, or read about, that seem to be the template from which I view life these days.  I am calling them my rules for life.  

 

  1.  The past does not matter; every moment is a new beginning.
  2. You know your path.
  3. You know who you really are.
  4. You will keep awakening.
  5. Be in the moment.
  6. Pay attention- signs are all around you.
  7. Stay open.
  8. Dig your own well; you have the tools, freedom, choice.
  9. You are NOT a victim.
  10. Keep creating; the possibilities are endless.
  11. Guilt serves no good purpose.
  12. Our thought processes are in our control and can ALWAYS  be changed.
  13. Be abundant with forgiving yourself; see your true beauty and innocence.
  14. Love yourself as deeply as you can; when you can look upon yourself with eyes of love, you can love others more easily for who they are as well.
  15. Guilt is at the root of all that kills- body, mind, soul and spirit.
  16. Every encounter is a gathering of wisdom.
  17. Trust your inner knowing- that is your spiritual path.
  18. Express gratitude for what you have every day.
  19. Be impeccable with your word.
  20. Do not take others and the world personally.
  21. Don’t assume.
  22. Always do your best.
  23. In the forgetting, I get to keep awakening.
  24. Shine your light, without apology or self consciousness, without comparing it to others.
  25. We are all part of the same light, the same source.

Cumulative Effects.

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This morning, I woke up thinking about the fact that, at any given moment, I have a choice in how I respond to life and my life situation.  Regardless of any beliefs that I possess, or my past experiences, I always get to choose my response.  Sometimes, of course, I am not consciously aware of my ability to choose, but it is always there.  

 

On my most occasions recently, I believe that to be true, my ability to choose.  But, one thing that makes me think I don’t have a choice, is something I call cumulative effect.  

 

So, in any given situation, I respond according to my past experiences. I recognize, or not, the situation based on a past experience.  Then, I tell myself a story in my mind about what the situation is, even though much of that can’t be known.  Then, I seal the story away in my memory, whether or not it is accurate.  It becomes a story that we keep. Over time, those stories, of what I think I know about the world, accumulate, and the total effects color the way that we see the world right now.

 

For example, I have a terrible discomfort about clowns.  Yes, clowns.  I feel creeped out, for lack of a better word, when I see a clown.  I don’t know where this story started in my supposed memory, but somewhere along the line, I experienced fear of some kind around them.  And, at 53 years old, I still don’t like them.  That is cumulative effect.  It lasts a lifetime, or so we think.

 

The brilliant news is that the effect does not have to last any longer than we want it to.  I know that sounds crazy; how can we let go of something that has been with us that long?  That seems to have formed the very person I am now?  What do I do?

 

Well, it can be done, but what we have learned our whole lives can be hard to unlearn.  So we just try to let it go.  What works for me is to remember that every life experience that I go through, I have a story about it.  And that is all my memory is to me:  a story.  I have no way of knowing the validity of it.  But I only have to believe it until I don’t.  Every moment is a new beginning; a new opportunity to see the world in all of its unique qualities.

 

For me, it is much more difficult to judge a person or situation, if I am just taking it in, as it is, in the moment.  If I am letting go of the past, meaning not bringing my stories along; and if I am not focusing on the future, or trying to predict how it will turn out, then I am able to allow the situation to just be, and therefore, more easily accept it.

 

I know that humans who feel that they are their past is how we are taught; and so I know that the past stories that many of us have feel very real and have a deep impact on our lives.  I work with people every day in my job whose past stories have made terrible messes in their lives, and created a great deal of pain.  Yet, the stories don’t own us.  They are not the truth.  The here and now is the only truth.

 

When my identity has been my past and my future, to change my thinking is a daily workout.  I am choosing more moments of presence and fewer being focused on past or future.  But, I know that even if I still have past pains that I am not ready to let go, I don’t have to accumulate any additional stories to add.  I can do my best to be here, in the moment.

 

Right Now.

 

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2016: The Year of Transformation.

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I can recall many New Years eve celebrations in my past; some spent at home, waiting for midnight to strike.  Other times, I would get all dressed up, and go out and ring in the new year with close friends.  No matter what form it took, New Years eve was always spent in reflection of the year before, and anticipation of what was to come next.

 

On most occasions, I had many things that I wanted to leave behind from the year before, and expected that the new year would bring something new, needed, or different.  I was always looking at the past as something that had impacted me in some negative way, and the future as my reprieve, my new beginning.

 

This year, 2016, brings with it a newness that feels the same, yet different.  There is a part of me that feels nostalgic, in that I feel a sense of anticipation and excitement as to what will be in store for me and my loved ones in the new year.  Then, I am also looking at the new year with eyes that see things in a different way.  Today, I am thinking about transformation, in my life currently and as I go forward.

 

Transformation can mean for many of us, changes to our life situation, events that occur outside of us.  So, for me, winning a million dollars would definitely transform my life situation in major ways.  And, yes, I would enjoy having some aspects of my life situation transformed.  But I am, more than a transformed life situation, seeking a more internal transformation in this new year.  Rather than anticipating what the new year will bring to me, I am seeing what I can bring to myself.

 

For me, today and every day, I am seeking transformation from within. I do that in little ways every day:  by being in the present moment, as often as possible; by not taking things personally that occur; by not making assumptions about others; by doing my best; and by coming back to my peaceful center as often as possible.  It is not perfect, and some days I am better at it than others.  Yet, I know that these small steps will bring the transformation that I seek for myself.

 

Transformation will come to me most powerfully the more willing I am to see the world, and accept it, as it is.  When I no longer resist seeing and accepting the world around me, then I stop separating myself from others. I stop judging the world around me as bad, or evil, or less than myself.  The more willing I am to accept the present moment, to be with it as it is without putting a label on it, the more transformed I become.  The more connected I feel to myself and the world around me.  The more peace that floods into my soul.

 

Transformation allows me to become more of my self in the world than I have ever been.  

 

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Leave it, Change it, Accept it.

GratitudeI have been listening daily to Eckhart Tolle.  For those of you that might not know who he is, he wrote a book several years ago titled “The Power of Now”.  I bought that book on CD a month ago, and have been listening to it in the car almost daily.  The reminders that it brings me about staying in the present moment; not focusing on past or future; and finding my joy and peace are so necessary for me.  The things that I learn get to be put to the test in my daily interactions with others.

 

I have a fear and anxiety that lingers in me when I have to deal with, or should say, think I have to deal with a difficult person or situation.  I either criticize myself for not letting go of past resentments, or blame the other person that I believe is the source of my anxiety.  Then, I go back and forth with both of these options, for a good long while, which only increases my sense of anxiety.  

 

At these times, I like to catapult myself into the past, reminding myself of all of the reasons that I feel justified in holding onto my resentment; and I also project into the future to tell myself the story of what I think might happen, or what I desire to happen.  I am definitely not peaceful at these times, because I am definitely not in the present moment.

 

So, when I am in the midst of a life situation that I find difficult or uncomfortable, if I want to be more conscious, and therefore, more present and peaceful, I have three options for taking care of it.  First, I could change the situation, by changing my behavior and thoughts about it or within it.  My second option is to leave it altogether; walk away from the situation fully.

 

My final option is to accept the situation as it is.  This option, although it is the one that I most prefer to take, seems the most challenging for me.  It means that I must drop any judgments or stories that I have about myself, the situation, and the person involved, and let it be as it is.  Let it Be.

 

The beauty of my choices, is that they are available to me, in every moment.  And, there are always ample opportunities, every day, to put them to the test.  To know that my best is all that is ever necessary, and that peace is here, waiting for me, is indeed a blessing. 

 

 

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