It’s Good For Your Health: Forgiveness

Heart Stone by Paula Sager

IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH: FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves.

Sidney And Suzanne Simon

Now that the holidays have passed and we’ve made it through the beginning of the year, I’d like to focus on letting go of grievances.  Let’s start out the year with how we can resolve those obstacles that hold us back from truly giving and receiving love, what I see as the last frontier in the healing process: forgiveness. In my work with individuals who have experienced trauma, abuse and challenging life events, I find that forgiveness is vital to the process of moving on, to releasing ourselves from the restraints of regret, past hurts and perceived injustices. It represents a commitment to an ongoing healing process.

It is impossible to live a life that does not offer us lessons in adversity. Bad things happen, both to us and because of us; this is part of the human condition. Good and bad, right and wrong, love and hate are a small list of conflicting ethical and emotional issues with which we struggle every day. Stresses arise in multiple aspects of our lives: at home and at work, within extended family or blended-family situations, in problems relating to our health and that of others, and from worry arising from economic strains.

Maybe you know someone who challenges your sense of well being. Holding feelings of resentment and refusing to forgive can actually create a physical stress response that can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problems. If you focus on this person who arouses conflict and anger in you, your heart rate increases and blood pressure rises.

A simple yet profound way to begin lessening this tension is to imagine you and this individual as worthy of happiness, love and freedom from the restraints of conflict. Try switching your focus to feelings of forgiveness, both for that person and yourself. This may be a stretch in some instances, but when this can occur even in the smallest measure, these tiny steps can start you toward relief and healing and shift your neurotransmitters to a more healthful state. Light, spaciousness, acceptance and tolerance begin to flood your body and soul. You are on your way to becoming a forgiving person.

We must recognize that forgiveness is not necessarily reconciliation; it does not wipe out memory or turn a wrong into a right. We may have to find a way to forgive others, if not their actions. We may need to forgive ourselves for our own wrong actions, let go of regrets and loosen the grip of guilt and shame that can keep us trapped in negative states of mind. You can’t expect relief to be achieved all at once, but a gradual shifting of awareness can begin to release you and even the others around you from this inner tightness.

As we move through regrets and hurts and take concrete steps toward changing our emotional relation to past events, we must acknowledge the critical role forgiveness plays in creating connection, community, and life-sustaining choices. We are meant to love and be loved. I urge you to chance removing that barrier from around your heart, and begin again—through forgiveness.

Words of Wisdom

I began to ask the question with others about ‘What Matters Most?’ and one of these people that I inquired is my 22 year old son.  He of course is an extraordinary young man living in San Francisco becoming a graphic designer at California College of the Arts.  Without going on and on about what it is to be a mother of a talented, creative and driven young man, I will quote what he spoke.  We were sitting at his favorite taco bistro in Potrero Hill District  having this rather deep conversation over fish taco’s and burrito’s!

‘When you are satisfied and truly fulfilled in your life you loose the desire to seek gratification through other people’s pain and turmoil.  There comes a point in your life when you want others to succeed as much as you do.  It is our true humanly instinct to be on top socially, especially with people we are close with—-When you hurt another, your are hurting yourself, as we are all ONE and connected to ensure our passion and evolution.’

So I ask you, What Matters Most to you today?

 

Dear Humans

One of my east coast friends sent this the other day I just had to post it here.  I thought it said more then enough to continue to take the necessary steps to becoming fully human.
‘Dear Humans,
You’ve got it all wrong.  You didn’t come here to master unconditional Love.  That is where you came from and that is where you will return.   You came here to learn personal Love.  Universal Love, messy Love, sweaty Love, crazy Love, broken Love, whole Love.  Infused with Divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling.  Demonstrated through the beauty of….  messing up often.  You didn’t come here to be perfect.  You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human.  Flawed and Fabulous.  And then to rise again into remembering.  But unconditional Love?  Stop telling that story.  Love in truth doesn’t need any adjectives.  It needs no modifiers.  It doesn’t require the condition of perfection.  It only asks that you show up.  And do your best.  That you stay present and feel fully.   That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU.  It is enough.  It is plenty.’  Courtney Walsh
Photo by Wendy Sanchez

Acceptance, Just As It Is!

“Inside yourself or outside, you never have to change what you see, only the way you see it…”

Thaddeus Golas

We live in a world of opposites: good/bad, happy/sad, day/night, up/down, left/right. Carl G. Jung speaks about maturity being born out of the ability to endure the tension of these opposites. As I have aged, I have settled into an acceptance of this truth. Our ability to shift between extremes must be developed to manage skillfully this terrain of the truth. In the face of bad luck or adversity I strive to see any hidden potential for good that may lie within.

Have you ever felt trapped by events allowing you no way out? We may feel this when we are on the cusp of something new or are moving from one stage in life to another. I have often found that even when good things happen to someone, their next thought may be one of doubt or uncertainty, as if matters should not be as they are. I notice in both others and myself this human tendency to resist change, whether it is bad or good.

 It is our attitude toward these episodes that makes all the difference. I use the image of two wings to work with this: one wing holds what is true, just as it is; the other wing, compassion and acceptance for this truth, regardless of what it may be. Working with this image allows me to grapple with my feelings so as to move towards understanding. Can a bird fly with only one wing? No. Both wings, interconnected, allow space for this tension of opposites to be held, endured and brought to resolution.  

Can you sit for a moment and just be? Can you focus on what is without wanting to change it? Can you say yes to what is here right now, regardless of your desires? This practice of accepting truth, regardless of the situation, holds the potential for freedom and liberation. 

Take a moment to sit with something with which you may be struggling. Breathe in, still your mind the best you can, focus on your chest rising and falling. Accept the present just how it is, nothing more, nothing less. Visualize these two interconnected wings. What is the truth of the situation right now? Name it, say it to yourself. Then feel the other wing, the one of compassion and humility. See if you can feel acceptance for just what is without judgment, blame for your perceived shortcomings or engagement of the inner critic. 

I have found that with a little practice, acceptance may be found when slowing down long enough to reconnect with ourselves. Fly with the wings of truth and compassion to discover the gratitude and grace born from this acceptance of the moment. As a Spanish proverb so wisely puts it, “Dance to the tune that is played.”

 

 

A time of transitions

The morning of the day he died of a heart attack in 1993, William Stafford wrote a poem containing the lines:
“You don’t have to prove anything,”
my mother said. “Just be ready
for what God sends.”
I listened and put my hand
out in the sun again. It was all easy.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
These words came today and I needed to post them.  I have experienced the passing of two great men this last week and these words of William Stafford seem to be
the right ones to post.  We are always in transition, our life is ever changing, turning this way and that.  What has touched me and is etched in my heart is
the greatness and goodness of people and the natural offering of the human soul.  What has mattered is being among friends, community, being in the presence of
others, even with grief and pain.  There has been a kind of raw awe and beauty sandwiched between what has been unbearable and mysterious.
Death is a gift when I surrender to the teaching it offers and out of it comes an entrance into life and embracing ‘what is’.

I’ve been thinking about FAITH

I have been thinking about FAITH, not the kind I learn from any religious training, but the kind that is expansive and travels beyond my own limited thoughts or yours.

FAITH as a noun, I feel across my back and into my toes, it is a bridge that crosses an expanse to others and it carries my imagination and builds association beyond words, emotions, images and thoughts.

If there is such a thing of particles within silence, it is FAITH that connects these particles together. In a teaching group I did recently, I asked the question about interconnectedness….all five women arrived dressed in grey and black! Is this coincidence, synchronicity, randomness or the collective unconscious becoming conscious through FAITH?

There are many people suffering in the world these days, we are in a time of discordance and tensions. There are many who are witnessing and holding their own suffering and those close to them. This is what we do as humans, we rejoice in our connections and we grieve our losses…these are the particles that weave us together.

This is what matters most, to be a part of the thread that is woven together….

Tell me, what is most important to you about your connections?

FAITH

I want to write about faith,
about the way the moon rises
over cold snow, night after night,

faithful even as it fades from fullness,
slowly becoming that last curving and impossible
sliver of light before the final darkness.

But I have no faith myself
I refuse it even the smallest entry.

Let this then, my small poem,
like a new moon, slender and barely open,
be the first prayer that opens me to faith.

— David Whyte

Welcome to my new blog site!

Ok, so you think that I know what I am doing, well, I don’t and I don’t care…what matters most is a place where I will be writing things, posting things, asking questions, inviting you to be a part of this blog along with connecting with others who also think that what matters most is actually something we should all be thinking about together.  My intent for this blog is about connecting and not just with dots or dot coms, but with one another.  So, what matters most today is learning something new, how to choose a name, a picture, what to eat for dinner and what time to go to bed.  Mundane, yes, but this is how we start….

I realized after seeing Mary Oliver last night, listening to her wise words that it is not always that easy to see, to see on a regular basis what is right in front of me, the moment opening to the many layers of perception.  This is a deep desire to see…this is what matters…..to be able to really completely read a poem, to let it wash inside my mouth and let the images twirl around inside….to slow down, to listen again…this is what matters….so I begin and invite you to join me….

Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

– Mary Oliver