As uncomfortable as it may be, we ultimately need to confront past hurts in order to move on and grow. These pains were perhaps inflicted upon us by others or even ourselves. Sometimes these things are so deeply rooted in pain that we have blocked them out almost completely, and we don’t realize this until we begin the work to address them. Be gentle and kind with yourself in completing the following practice. If it feels like too much, you can always come back to closing your eyes and deep breathing, no matter what. If you are not sure where to start, think of how you’d respond to the following question: What in my past do I need to let go of? The following should take about 15 minutes:
(1) MOVE (about 3 minutes)
Find a comfortable seat on a chair or on the floor, sitting on the edge of a cushion. Sit tall, and bring your hands to your chest over your heart and begin inhaling and exhaling out your nose. As you inhale, notice how your chest rises beneath your hands, and as you exhale, notice how it gently falls. After doing that a few rounds, on the next inhale, take your hands off your chest and open your arms to a cactus shape or a “T.” You can tilt the chin back slightly as you begin to open your chest and heart. On the exhale bring the hands back to the chest, and dip your chin toward your heart. Repeat this for a few rounds, for the next 2-3 minutes, or however long feels good to you.
(2) MEDITATE (about 4 minutes)
Stay in your seat and continue breathing in and out through your nose. On the inhale, say to yourself in your mind the mantra: “May I forgive myself for the past.” On the exhale say: “May I forgive all others for the past.” You can call to mind a specific person on each exhale—don’t judge what or who comes up. Just focus on the mantra. Repeat this for the next 3 to 4 minutes, or until you’d like to stop.
(3) MEDIATE (about 8 minutes)
Grab a pen and paper. Visualize yourself forward in time, in a light-filled space, several years in the future, when you have allowed emotions from the past hurts to quiet down. You acknowledge these hurtful events or unkind feelings, but have moved on and let go of their stranglehold on your day-to-day life.
Imagine that day in the future is today and you embody that person who has let go. Put your pen to the page and write a letter from that open place to your stuck self who is struggling with forgiveness.