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The Nature of Forgiveness and Letting Go

What is it about the fall season that tends to bring our own fragility and impermanence into sharper focus? Perhaps the thick skin we create to shield ourselves from the realities of existence become thinner during this time as we feel the fleeting energy that the season brings, see the visual beauty of the burning out of life , and on some level, come to realize the impermanent nature of all things. It’s a time of intense beauty, and often of passion, creativity and artistry– and all of that can leave us feeling a little vulnerable.

In Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, the transitional seasons of fall and spring are also times for cleansing the body- a chance to hit the reset button and start fresh. In the same way, we can look at what needs cleansing in our environment– our homes, work places, and wardrobes. Resetting our bodies and clearing the clutter from our space makes it easier to relax and think clearly with less judgement and reactivity. It’s from this place that we can look honestly, and with compassion, at what needs cleansing in our lives, our hearts and our minds.

This season, the water element comes to the forefront– a powerful reminder of the flow of life and the need to let go and release. All of that cleansing and clearing out helps us create space for something new and allows us to loosen our grip on those things we’ve been holding onto the most tightly.

All of this comes together to create a beautiful setting in which explore our relationship to forgiveness.

It’s hard to give and it’s hard to get, but everybody needs a little forgiveness. –Patty Griffin

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful gifts we can give or receive. It’s also one of the most difficult.

True forgiveness is often very difficult, because it requires us to separate from something that feels very deeply attached or ingrained– so much so that it may feel like we have to give up a part of ourself, or even- if it is very deeply intrenched- feel like we are giving up who we are.

Giving forgiveness may require letting go of something you feel entitled to, justified in, or empowered by. Receiving forgiveness may require letting go of guilt, shame, or ambivalence.

We, as humans, are deserving of justice and balance. The world we live in requires justice and balance in order to make sense. So it’s easy to tell ourselves that we are hurt by someone, we are entitled to our anger, our rage, our lashing out, our revenge, and our holding of this perceived power over this person. Our reaction should equal their transgression. That’s justice. That’s balance. As the transgressor we tell ourselves that we are entitled to our guilt and shame, to the ruining of our own light and gifts. We seek to make our own punishment equal to the offense we feel we’ve caused.

But everything is relative, and in the bigger picture of our soul’s development, clinging to anything is never serving our highest good.

Anger is a worthy emotion, an amazing tool of fuel for creativity or destruction, and it has value. But anger is an emotion and emotions are meant to arrive and pass through us– again and again if necessary, but always with movement. When we cling to emotions and do not allow them to pass naturally, we can create permanent damage in our minds, our spirits, and even in our physical bodies.

The reality is that forgiveness is not about giving up a part of yourself, it’s about letting go of an attachment that is not serving you, because it is not you. In fact, true forgiveness allows us to create more space for the true Self– the Self that is limitless in it’s compassion, understanding, and potential.

What we are really giving up is our attachment to ego self- the small, limiting self that we know through our thoughts and habits, which creates feelings of fear, entitlement, need for revenge or payback, or the taking of another person’s power in order to make ourselves feel better. We are giving up a hardened ball of emotions and unchecked thoughts that are weighing us down and keeping us from knowing and experiencing our true Self and potential.

We also have a chance to see where we have not forgiven ourselves. We may need to revisit this process time and again, every day, but that’s okay. Small changes are often the biggest things we can do for ourselves.

Every season, we give ourselves nourishment to prepare for the coming season. In fall, we are cleansing of what we no longer need and nourishing ourselves in preparation for sustaining through winter’s deeper inward turn– a time of hibernation of a sort, rest before a rebirth, and integration.

Whatever we take with us will be with us all winter and will be a source of comfort or of discomfort. And anything that has not been released will be reintegrated and subsequently reborn with us in the spring, until summer’s fire offers us opportunity to burn away what we don’t need and transform it into something else.

Invite yourself to make this inquiry: Is there something you haven’t been able to let go of just yet? What would it take for you to be able to loosen your grip? Ask yourself what you would need in order to be able to release it into the ether and invite the Universe to fill you with something even better.

– I invite you to share your own thoughts and insights on forgiveness in the comments section below. As this is a process that we all need continued guidance and support in (yes, myself included), I think it’s extremely valuable to hear different perspectives on it.


Thanks for reading! Share your thoughts and replies in the comments below. – xo


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1 Comment

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    September 27, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Just Beautiful, Rachael. Love this post.

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