Previously i wrote about the benefits of retreat. This evening I want to expand on this and speak about forgiveness. Forgiveness can be very challenging especially when we have faced hurt and betrayal from people we trust and care for. However, forgiveness is necessary if we are to fully live in the present.
Forgiveness from a psychological view point means letting go, not necessarily condoning the actions of another or our selves but letting go in order to fully engage in the present and live a flourishing and valued life once more.
Letting go in this sense means to once and for all let go in order to regain being fully in the present.
When we have not forgiven we are forever trapped by the action that resulted in feelings of hurt, anger or betrayal. Emotion focused therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy have tools that aid in the process of forgiveness. The empty chair technique is a powerful tool for enabling the processing of strong emotions of betrayal hurt and mistrust. When we are faced with the empty chair we imagine the person who has hurt us sitting in the chair. We can then have a direct conversation with the person as if they were there. This technique is very powerful and can enable people to fully experience the hurt feelings behind feelings of anger and sadness.
Acceptance and commitment therapy invites us to imagine the person in front of us and offer them forgiveness for the actions that have hurt us. We do not condone but forgive. We then imagine that the person receive the forgiveness and thanks us. A simple statement while practising a meditation such as “in order to fully live in the present I am making a choice not to condone but do forgive”. With this we offer our forgiveness fully and completely. We may need to do this as a meditation once a day for the full effects of the meditation to benefit.