Last week I posed the 2nd question of the Simple Path, “How do you feel about being you?”
Before you will be able to access deeper experiences of peace you will need to learn, over time, how to dissolve feelings of resentment and harsh judgements of others. This is a foundation truth and practice of both Christian and Buddhist meditation traditions. While the Simple Path suggests a much more gradual and realistic approach as to how to be able to actually do this, the fact remains that this work needs to be done.
But before you can do the work of offering love to all who live, you will need to learn how to truly forgive yourself for any poor choices you made which added to the difficulties of your life or the lives of others.
You will need to learn how to offer positive wishes and love towards your own life and heart.
How does one start to wash away any feelings or regret, or harsh judgment of self, or desires to hide from or run away from one’s feelings?
As you start your meditation session you can come up with your own prayers to say along these lines.
“It is time to fully forgive myself for any poor choices which made my life or the lives of other more difficult.”
“There may be significant work to do to make amends to those I have harmed, but for now I have to learn how to forgive myself for having made poor or disastrous choices.”
“I understand others may not forgive me, but at least I need to forgive myself.”
Whatever words work for you, whether they are clunky or wordy such as the ones above, it is the sentiment and the sincerity that counts the most. After a few minutes with these prayers and sentiments you can lead to something simpler life this:
“May I be happy. May I be well.”
“May I learn how to access deeper stages of peace.”
After these words you can proceed to offer positive wishes to those you love the most, but the work to forgive yourself completely needs to happen.
Those who believe in God will work with this process of self-forgiveness in different ways from those who do not believe. The good news is that you can engage this work whether you do believe in God or not, or are not sure what to believe.
The difficult news is that you will not be able to make much progress with meditation or any other practice of love and service until you do give yourself a “get out of jail free card.”
What is important to fully comprehend is this: You cannot change one detail of what has happened in the past. You may be surprised how difficult it can be to fully engage this foundation insight.
What you can change is how you relate to the memories and wounds of the past. This simple but powerful practice will help you greatly as you tend to the wounds and genuine challenges of the present.
Please let me know what prayers of forgiveness of self and acceptance of self you come up with. I would be glad to share those prayers with others if you feel comfortable sending them along.
Will Raymond Author of “The Simple Path of Holiness” and host of MeditationPractice.com