What does forgiveness mean to you? More importantly, do you practice it, regularly? The dictionary definition is not much help: ‘the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.’ However, there is a clue in there as to what forgiveness means as a spiritual practice. It’s a process, but it’s more than that – it’s a state of being. Forgiveness is much more than the giving or acceptance of an apology, and relinquishing the need or expectation of punishment or retribution.
A good friend of mine, who is also a spiritual teacher, is very big on forgiveness. Acknowledging that it’s not something you can do once and then tick off the list, she compares it to peeling away layers of an onion. Each time you consciously practice forgiveness, you remove something that has caused you pain, but you uncover another, deeper layer, which may bring something else to the surface, and then you need to go through the process again. It’s something you’re never done with, because there’s always something and someone to forgive. And strangely, the one we need to forgive most often is ourselves!
We tend to blame ourselves when things go wrong, and assume we could have done something to have avoided the situation, even though mostly we’re wrong about that. With the best will in the world, we can only do what we feel is right; we can’t control the behaviour and input of others. So self-forgiveness is the greatest gift we can give ourselves, because it helps us feel better about our choices and actions. If you genuinely did your best, and acted in the best interests of everyone involved, you have nothing to blame yourself for, and if you do find you’re beating yourself up, then you need to forgive yourself, because as my friend says, it has many layers.
Some years ago, I found myself in a many-layered situation when my husband killed my dog in front of me. The whole story is in my book, The Soul Cave, and I’ve spoken about it in other articles, so we’re not going into too much detail here, but when I began the forgiveness process, it became so much easier when I understood why I had to forgive myself. And it wasn’t as simple as wishing I hadn’t put my dog in a position where he was in danger. The warning signs were there – my husband’s final illness brought on mood swings when he would become uncharacteristically but increasingly violent, but I didn’t want to leave him because I still loved him and wanted to support him.
My process was to go into meditation and call on Archangel Jeremiel, the Angel of Forgiveness and Life Review, to show me what I needed to know in order to forgive the situation and everyone involved in it and let go of the past. Jeremiel can give us insights into why things happened as they did, and how we can learn from it and move forward with our lives.
Everything that happens to us, good or bad, happens for a reason, not just because the universe has it in for us or God is having a bad day and taking it out on us. Maybe we have a lesson to learn, or perhaps we have something to teach someone else. We could be straying from our path, and need to be guided back, or in a different direction. In meditation, when our minds are still and we are open to experiences, we often receive enlightening messages and/or prompts to point us in the right direction on our path to forgiveness.
In my case, the prompt was to forgive Paddy! Yes, I needed to forgive my dog – who had saved my life and in my mind was a hero – but why? Well, I was actually wishing Paddy was back with me, so without realising it, I was blaming him for leaving me. See what I mean about forgiveness having many layers?
And sometimes, people crave forgiveness so badly that they can accomplish incredible things to achieve it. Around a year after Paddy’s death, my husband was dying. I hadn’t lived with him since that night, but I received a message that he didn’t have long left, and when Glenys and myself felt his energy around us one afternoon, we thought he’s passed to Spirit. However, it turned out that somehow, his spirit had come seeking my forgiveness. He couldn’t comfortably pass until he was sure he had it. In fact, although he was assured I had forgiven him, he came back the next day and it wasn’t until we were able to send him love and encourage him to go to the light as he had nothing to hold on for that he relinquished his tenuous hold on life.
How could that happen? I don’t presume to be wise enough to know, but there’s lots of anecdotal evidence of people holding on to life for hours, days or even weeks while they wait for a loved one to reach them, or a special event like the birth of a baby or a wedding. Then, once they get what they’ve been waiting for, they pass peacefully to Spirit.
If you’re not sure how to instigate forgiveness, for yourself or for others, you can start by clearing your mind, calling on Archangel Jeremiel, and asking him to show you how to work through the process. You may get a message or prompt straight away, as I did, or it may come to you later, in a dream, or just as a thought out of the blue. Alternatively, you can work through a forgiveness visualisation. There’s one here that I channelled through Archangel Jeremiel, or you can work out your own process, with the help of Spirit and the angels. There’s no right or wrong way, only what works best for you. Love and blessings.