The Secret of Healing — Forgiveness
By don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. and HeatherAsh Amara, authors, The Seven Secrets to Healthy, Happy Relationships
Forgiveness is the most transformative tool we have for healing our wounds with ourselves, our parents, or other adults who raised us and the wounds from our past and present partners. Forgiveness is a multifaceted process that can range from letting go of hurt to resolution to wishing well for the offending party. It can go further and include a deeply spiritual practice by which we fully embrace our hurt and release the person who hurt us, clearing the way for complete absolution.
Most importantly, forgiveness allows for the release of the ongoing burden of pain. It clears our hearts to love ourselves and one another fully. When we hold our pain and suffering inside us, we build a dam that blocks the waters of unconditional love; but when we allow those waters to flow, we can find joy and renewed beauty in the places that our wounds have been healed.
We forgive because we want to enjoy the present and look forward to the future. We forgive because we are empowered to set aside the baggage of the past that only weighs us down. We don’t forgive under duress or out of guilt, but because we understand that thoughts and feelings of resentment, grudges, and anger are, as the saying goes, the poison we administer to ourselves with the intent to hurt someone else.
Looking with kindness and loving compassion, we may see that the one who hurt us was confused rather than evil, that they were pursuing what they thought they wanted. We may look back at our own past, to the times we are ashamed of, and see ourselves with friendly eyes, as one who was lost rather than guilty, doing the best we could at the time.
Forgiveness is not just for the big things. Our current relationship can be weighed down with one hundred, one thousand, or ten thousand little things that we are holding against our partner and ourselves, and over time the weight of these little things can be just as damaging as large-scale traumatic events. They can sap the creativity, connection, and kindness from our everyday exchanges with our partner. Opening to forgiveness grants an opportunity to drop the load, to clear the air, and to address the little things that are blocking your happiness together.
Forgiveness is a beautiful ideal, but we have often heard people say, “I just can’t forgive this person. The hurt is too deep.” We understand these feelings and acknowledge that in many cases forgiveness is a difficult process, one that can’t be rushed. At the same time, if this overwhelming pain applies to you, try setting aside the notion of saintly, absolute forgiveness. Along with it, kick to the curb any shame you are experiencing about wherever you are on your own personal forgiveness journey. Rather than trying to forgive all at once, all right now, simply ask yourself, what are you getting by holding on to your anger or resentment? We humans don’t tend to do things for no reason. Maybe your pain is part of your identity, and releasing it feels terrifying? What are you afraid will happen if you do grant forgiveness? Will you be hurt again? Will you lose your self-respect? Your good judgment? Answering these questions can help you look deeper into the blocks that are preventing you from heading down the path of forgiveness and letting go.
Finally, we can’t say enough about the importance of rituals when it comes to forgiveness and reclaiming your emotional power. To this end, we have included some rituals in the explorations portion of this chapter that can help you heal from old wounds, as well as change outmoded beliefs and ideas about yourself and the world that are keeping you trapped in the past. Rituals are an outward expression of your inner intent to heal. In this way, healing becomes more than just something you think about. Through rituals, you bring the power of action to support your intent. Many of our students and friends have expressed major breakthroughs in their current relationships when they were able to extend forgiveness fully, and in all directions, through the use of rituals.
In one case, a friend of ours chose to perform a forgiveness ritual in a city park — the place where, years before, and much to her surprise, her beloved had ended their relationship. Not only was she upset over the breakup, but she also drove past this park regularly, and every time she did she remembered that day and felt a surge of emotions. She decided
the best way for her to heal was with a forgiveness ritual (included as the second exercise at the end of this chapter), which she undertook at the very spot in the park where the news was delivered. She explained later that not only did she feel incredible relief as a result of the ritual, but she also reclaimed her emotional power around the park. Now when she drives by the park it is a profound reminder of her own power to forgive and transform through active healing.
Adapted, and reprinted with permission from Hierophant Publishing, The Seven Secrets to Healthy, Happy Relationships by don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. and HeatherAsh Amara is available wherever books and ebooks are sold or directly from the publisher at www.redwheelweiser.com or 800–423–7087.
don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. is a Nagual, a Toltec Master of Transformation. He is a direct descendant of the Toltecs of the Eagle Knight lineage and is the son of don Miguel Ruiz, Sr. He is the author of several books including The Mastery of Self, The Five Levels of Attachment, Living a Life of Awareness, and Don Miguel Ruiz’s Little Book of Wisdom. Visit him at miguelruizjr.com.
HeatherAsh Amara is dedicated to inspiring depth, creativity, and joy by sharing the most potent tools from a variety of world traditions. Raised in Southeast Asia, HeatherAsh has traveled the world from childhood and is continually inspired by the diversity and beauty of human expression and experience. She is the author of several books including Warrior Goddess Training, Warrior Goddess Way, Warrior Goddess Wisdom, and Awaken Your Inner Fire. She brings this open-hearted, inclusive worldview to her writings and teachings. Visit her at heatherashamara.com.