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The Little Forgiveness Meditation Guide

Forgiveness Meditation

“Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.” ~ George MacDonald

“You hold in your hand an invitation: to remember the transforming power of forgiveness and loving kindness. To remember that no matter where you are and what you face, within your heart peace is possible.” ~ Jack Kornfield

Developing a capacity for forgiveness is a fundamental facet of the journey of learning to meditate, an important part of the process of spiritual maturation. It is through forgiving that we loosen our burdens. We can then enter our practice with a lightness of heart. This will do more to move us deeply into rest than any mantra or breathing exercise.

What is Forgiveness? Why Bother?

Forgiveness can be defined as the conscious letting-go of resentment towards somebody that has harmed you. It is done in spite of the possibility of circumstances changing, that person rectifying their behaviour or you getting even.

It involves a change in the way you see them. One way is through the veneer of anger and all the suffering to yourself that causes. The second is as another human being, incessantly (perhaps mistakenly) doing what they believe will bring them happiness, and as somebody to whom you can harbour feelings of peace and love. 

When it comes down to it, the only person that is suffering is you. Forgiveness involves a certain acceptance that we are responsible for how we feel. Not other people. This is true power. Perhaps the only power which we are capable of possessing. 

Try the forgiveness meditations outlined below, see how you feel…

A quick note: you may feel slightly disingenuous as you do these meditations, that you’re not really forgiving. Keep in mind the mantra: “As best I can.” With time, the feeling of true forgiveness will grow. 

Meditation for Forgiveness: Variation One

This is an utterly simple practice. Once you’ve read the instructions here you can use it as and when you need it. You can also direct it towards yourself if you feel that self-forgiveness is more in order. 

  1. Settle yourself and take a few calming breaths. 
  2. Visualize a person who has harmed you, knowingly or unknowingly. If it is to painful to do this, choose a word or image that symbolizes them.
  3. Label the feelings that arise in reaction to thinking about this person. Shame, anger, hopelessness…just gently call them by their name.
  4. Also bring awareness to your physical sensations inside you, especially in your neck and abdomen. Are you tense or anxious?
  5. Keeping this person in mind, say, “As best I can, I forgive you. I wish you joy and love.” Repeat this several times.
  6. Finally, feel the burden of resentment lifting from you. Experience the lightness inside you. You have relinquished the hold that this person’s action had over you. 

Meditation for Forgiveness: Variation Two

  1. Settle yourself and take a few calming breaths. 
  2. Picture a person whom you dislike or hold resentment towards. Somebody who has offended or hurt you.
  3. Visualize this person in your mind’s eye.
  4. As you look at them, perceive a white light in them. A small gleam. 
  5. Let this light grow and encompass their whole body.
  6. Observe for a while this image of your enemy glowing with light.
  7. Now observe a close friend. Let the light to encompass them too.
  8. Finally allow both your friend and enemy to offer you the light. Feel it blossom inside yourself.

References & Further Reading

A written guided meditation by Jack Kornfield