The forgiveness process has been set out in considerable detail, so that
each of the stages and principles can be clearly understood. But there is
nothing rigid about this process, and you will find your own way of shortening
it or making your own adaptations when you are familiar with principles.
Here is a forgiveness exercise taken from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It consists of sitting quietly and centring yourself. Then you imagine you are holding the person you wish to forgive physically, in a kind of cage made by your two hands and your negative feelings.
As you continue to "hold" the person with your own resentment and negative feelings, gradually something changes. The muscles of your arms and hands may begin to hurt. You begin to realise that you are in some real way holding that person in their negative pattern. You are also hurting yourself. You also begin to realise that memory is not fixed, but how we choose to hold past information patterns.....
Usually, after a while, deep compassion begins to well up from the Well Spring of Compassion within you, and you begin to no longer want to hold that person or yourself in such a pattern of negativity. You begin to want to set yourself free, as you would want to set free an unhappy and imprisoned bird. To set yourself free, you realise you must set the other person free also.
In many ways, a jailer is just as limited as the prisoners in his charge. As Compassion for both yourself and the other person pours through, your hands begin to release the other person from the cage. As you set the other free, you also free yourself.
Once you have understood the principles of the Forgiveness-of-others and Self-forgiveness processes, you will find your own ways of shortening them. One patient of mine, after doing many in full, found she was able to do forgiveness "on the wing" as it were, using the formula:
"Yes, I would prefer you did things my way, but you don't, and I LOVE YOU JUST THE SAME".
Here is a sample of a shortened self-forgiveness process I needed to do:-
"Dear Higher Self, I ask forgiveness for not having got this book perfectly right, and for believing that I was unworthy because of that and many other things."
" Dear Guy, it is true that you have not always done the wisest, most loving and courageous things, and there is room for improvement in your behaviour as well as in the book, but I love you just the same."
A simple forgiveness of others could be along the lines of:
"Dear Reader, I would prefer that you liked this book and approved of me, recognised me, loved me, made wonderful changes in your life, and passed on to others the worthwhileness of this work. But even if you don't, I will love you just the same".
Instead of the image of the Jig-Saw Puzzle in the Stage of Healing of Mental Nature, (beliefs systems), Barbro Ivarsson of Sweden, uses the following idea. Notice how she has chosen an image that could be particularly appealing to Scandinavians, with their deep love of trees, and to whom the seasons are very important. In STEP 11 instead of reading "the jig-saw puzzle on the tray, the tray tilts...etc.." as an image of the pattern of negative beliefs, she uses:
"Look at your own big mighty tree in front of you. It is late summer.....now it is autumn.... Al the leaves turn stiff, dry, and they fall off. They are still beautiful with all their colours, but now they are old and useless to you... Now the winter passes, and spring is in the air.
Look at the thousands of newborn leaves! Soon all the leaves are deep green, full of strength, liveliness and love. Keep the picture of your tree, with the leaves, symbolising your new, very powerful thought patterns".
Later she uses an image of a blackboard being erased:
"Remember how it was, when you went to school. You sat in your seat, with names carved on the cover, and you heard the sounds of your schoolmates. Remember how the teacher wrote a lot on the blackboard and cleaned it all away again. Now it is time for you to clean away whatever you have written on your blackboard that you no longer need. Realise that as you imagine cleaning your board, you become free to move on from the experiences you have worked on in this process. They need no longer condition your thinking or behaviour in the future. And you may even experience a joyful sense of deep relief. Write your new beliefs on your blackboard with big, beautiful letters and look at what you have written. These are your beliefs for your Life right now."
Obviously, the jig-saw puzzle image would be of little use to someone who had never experienced such a thing, and the image of a deciduous tree would not have much meaning to one who lived all their life in tropical evergreen rain forest. A "tree" image might not be meaningful to one who lived in the central Australian desert. A "school" image might not be suitable for one who had suffered abuse at school by teachers. The point is, feel free to adapt the process yourself, always remembering the cultural background of the forgiver.
As a guide you will very likely need to adapt and change the process to find the best language and metaphors to suit the situation and people with whom you work. Different age groups, ethnic and religious groups, and different languages all require you to adapt the language while using the principles to get the necessary results.
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