“You are not too old
and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out
it’s own secret”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
As I turned 40 a few months ago, I felt a call to “let go.” I was carrying too much — too much of the past, too much responsibility in the present, and too much worry about the future. I wanted to live with more ease. Carrying around too much was keeping me from embodying a sense of calm in my everyday life. Tied so tightly to the past was keeping me from delighting in this very moment. Being so responsible about the present kept me closed off, scrambling for control, and reacting with harshness to those I love. So worried about the future kept me from living TODAY without regrets.
And, to tell you the truth, mulling over the past, trying to control the present, and being anxious about the future are ways our minds keep us from touching what we THINK will be too difficult to heal. Things like shame, regret, and where we feel “not enough” — those aren’t easy places to go to. The busyness of our day, the “stuckness” of repeating habitual ways of avoidance keep us from going into those places within us to heal them.
So this Lenten season, I decided to take a courageous step: practice forgiveness. To begin and end my day with forgiveness meditations and practice “in the moment” forgiveness as I go about my day.
I dedicated myself to doing it with gentleness and tenderness. I told myself I would force nothing. And if shame would arise, I told myself, I will hold it, welcome it, and tend to it. I dedicated myself to practicing tenderness.
In order to live with ease and be at peace – we can exclude nothing. Nothing. Everything must be welcomed with gentleness, tender honesty, mindful awareness, and compassionate presence. Even the ego. Even the shadow sides of us. Yep, that means even the dark parts of yourself that you think, “no one would love me if they REALLY knew who I was.” Those parts. Nothing can be excluded from our tender care if we truly want to live with ease and abide in a deep peace.
Ten days ago, I began to practice a forgiveness meditation and forgiveness “in the moment.” I didn’t know how I’d feel or if there’d be any shift. Well…it’s only been ten days. TEN DAYS. And…Whoa. Slowly, sweetly and with gentleness, there is a clearing within me. Layers around my heart are beginning to just unfold. A deep quietness and peace are resting within me.
And it’s through denying nothing, but rather embracing tenderly. It’s through doing very little. Less trying. More allowing. And a willingness to be with whatever arises.
So what have I been doing? What can you do?
Practicing forgiveness in everyday life. If I speak harshly to my kiddos, close myself off from Brian, or start to judge myself or someone else, I put my hand on my heart and speak kind words of forgiveness: “It’s ok, Love. It’s alright, Lisa.” I tend to whatever hurt there is – in that very moment. I extend forgiveness to myself and to others — in the moment.
You can do this, too.
Throughout your day when you realize you’re about to be harsh with yourself or start judging someone else, pause.
Put your hand on your heart.
Speak words of kindness to yourself.
Say, “Forgiven. Forgiven.”
Beginning and ending the day with forgiveness meditation. I recorded a forgiveness meditation. It’s a beautiful meditation that gently grounds you and takes you through seeing the pain you’ve caused others, reflecting gently on the times you’ve caused yourself suffering, and extending forgiveness to others who have caused you suffering.
These practices empty us out, clearing space for new delights in our lives…and living with a deep sense of ease and peace.