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Master Chunyi Lin is a certified international Qigong Master and founder of Spring Forest Qigong. When in college he played basketball extensively and suffered extreme damage to his knees which caused severe arthritis and tremendous pain when he walked. It was through the power of forgiveness that he healed his knees and allows him to walk pain-free decades later. This is a brief rendition of his story.
After trying several healing methods to find relief from his knee pain, he attended a Qigong seminar put on by a famous Qigong teacher and healer from China’s Shaolin Temple. One part of the training involved a forgiveness exercise. The thousands of attendees were instructed to forgive everyone who had ever hurt them in their life. Upon hearing the instruction, Chunyi felt that he could never forgive the people that had done so much damage to his life and family. The Qigong master knew the anger in Chunyi’s heart and explained that if he wanted to help himself heal that he could begin by just pretending to forgive them. Chunyi decided that if that would help him to heal his knees, then he would just pretend to forgive them. He visualized that all who had done his family and him harm were standing in front of him and explained to them that he wanted to heal himself so he was going to pretend to forgive them. He said repeatedly “I pretend to forgive you, I pretend that I love you” over and over again – one hundred times. Suddenly his heart opened. He was able to think about all the situations in the past in a different, healing way and then his knees were healed.
It sounds like a miracle doesn’t it? Does it sound unbelievable? Maybe. History is filled with many such healings. Just look at the stories in the Bible and other spiritual works.
Forgiveness in Religions
Most world religions include teachings on forgiveness.
Buddhism teaches that forgiveness is a practice for removing unhealthy emotions that would otherwise cause harm to our mental well-being: And that hatred leaves a lasting effect on our karma.
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else but you are the one who gets burned.” – The Buddha
Judaism states that ideally a person who has caused harm, needs to sincerely apologize, then the wronged person is religiously bound to forgive. However, even without an apology, forgiveness is considered a pious act.
In Christian teachings, Christ died to forgive mankind of his sins. There are dozens of scripture quotes that speak of forgiving others.
Some are conditional in nature as in Matthew 6:14-15 which states: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
The Lord’s Prayer emphasizes forgiveness in these words: “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:9-13). And just before his death on the cross, Jesus uttered “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Matthew 5:9 & Luke 6:27-31.
The iconic persons in religious history were just as human as you and I. They felt anger, they were betrayed, they experienced suffering and great personal pain and tribulations and yet, they had compassion and love and were able to forgive.
Forgiveness Takes Love, Compassion and Understanding
To forgive is to pardon. It is the process of letting go of resentment of an action or spoken words, either by yourself or someone else, that has caused yourself or someone else harm. Forgiveness is a conscious and deliberate process that helps people heal from and let go of feelings like anger, grief and sadness. It is when people truly forgive someone (or a group), that they are free to move on to live a life full of love and joy.
So, taken in this context, if we hold onto anger, grief, sadness and other damaging emotions we are not living a life full of love and joy. If we are not living a life full of love and joy, we are not really living up to our full potential. If we are not living up to our full potential, then we are living in lack which may perpetuate our anger, grief and sadness and become resentment. It is a vicious cycle and yet, this is the life that many of us lead.
“Holding a grudge doesn’t make you strong it makes you bitter.
Forgiving doesn’t make you weak; it sets you free.”
– Dave Willis
There can be no forgiveness without love and compassion.
Forgiveness requires a love for the person that hurt you. To achieve that place of love means that you have to begin to understand the circumstances of why the person acted the way or said what they did.
A number of years ago I read two books – Making Peace with Your Past and Making Peace with Your Parents. These books helped me to understand that people’s personal history determines how they will react to a given situation. In my case, neither of my parents were nurturing or affectionate. My physical needs had always been cared for in that I lived in a nice house, always had food and clothing, a good education and exciting family travel opportunities. But as an adult I began to realize that my childhood had lacked cuddles and verbal expressions of love and the kind of nurturing attention that I was learning how to provide my own children. I was feeling cheated and a bit angry.
The books helped me to think about my parents’ lives and how they had grown up. I discovered that my father, the youngest of 5 children, had been orphaned when he was 3 years old. His oldest brother, Earl, was married and took care of three of his brothers and sisters but, because my father was so young, couldn’t care for him and work too. So, my father grew up in the boarding house of Earl’s mother-in-law. There is no telling what kind of treatment he received there and, as a result, perhaps he just didn’t know how to express loving feelings.
My mother was raised on military bases. When she was 10 years old, her father was killed in a plane crash and her mother was emotionally detached. Her mother remarried another military officer. I remember my mother talking about her step-father but never expressed how she felt about him or her mother.
My deduction was that neither of my parents were raised in particularly loving, nurturing households and therefore didn’t know how to provide that for their children. They just didn’t know how. The way they showed their love – by providing material needs – was the only way they knew how to show their love.
This was a huge revelation to me and I finally understood why they were the way they were. I could then release my judgement, pain and resentment and come to a place of acceptance and forgiveness and love them for what they did do for me.
“He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power of love.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Forgiveness and Healing
Anger is one of the primary emotions that prevents us from forgiving. As has been explained in previous modules, our emotions have a direct effect on our physical bodies. When we hold on to negative, fear-based thoughts and emotions, the memory of them can become buried in our cells as dense, dark, heavy energy. This weighs us down and, over time, can cause imbalance and disharmony, which can ultimately lead to disease. And from an energy perspective, it takes less energy to love and forgive than it does to stay angry and hold a grudge.
When we recall a memory of what angered us, or succumb to being agitated about any conflict, we go into a stressful state or fight or flight mode. We go into a hyper-state of breathing fast, rapid heartbeat, our blood flows away from our core and into our arms and legs and our immune system is suppressed. When we don’t forgive, we hold onto the anger, resentment and blame, and our bodies stay in an unhealthy stressful state long-term. Because long-term stress leads to inflammation, which is an underlying factor in all autoimmune diseases, the longer we resist forgiving, the more likely our bodies will surrender to disease.
When we play the forgiveness card, the opposite happens. When we let go of the negative, damaging emotions, the stress response is no longer an issue. We feel calm, relaxed and enjoy a sense of physical release. We become free of chains that we didn’t even know held us captive.
If you’ve ever read or watched a movie rendition of Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, you may recall the ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge’s former partner, Jacob Marley, appeared to him on Christmas Eve. Marley was wrapped in heavy, metal chains as his punishment of a life of monetary greed. He visited Scrooge to convince him to change his miserly ways or he would spend his eternity in chains as well.
Anger, resentment and blame are invisible chains that weigh us down every day of our lives. We can’t see them and don’t feel their effects until we make the conscious choice to forgive. When this happens, the weight lifts and we feel lighter, happier and free. Our health improves because blood pressure and sleep patterns normalize. We can digest food properly; our nutrient absorption increases and the immune system gets a boost. Pain is reduced, cholesterol levels improve and anxiety and depression lift and self-esteem improves.
Forgiveness is a Choice
Forgiveness is not something that naturally occurs: which is why it is a conscious and deliberate process that a person chooses to engage. The fact that forgiveness is a choice also explains why it is so powerful and transforming.
When we choose to forgive, we choose to let go of anger, despair, and all of the other negative emotions that weigh us down. And, when we let go of all the things that weigh us down, we have room to embrace the lighter, happier emotions such as love, joy and peace and we make room for more fulfilling, joyful experiences.
The choice, however is a difficult one whether it is forgiveness of self or of another. Because we are imperfect humans we have experienced bad thoughts, actions and feelings. And do we ever hold them close. We keep loading ourselves up with these memories of how bad we are from our earliest memories of childhood until the present time filling bag after bag of them that we drag around with us every day. Soon, we have a U-Haul truck full of negativity, then a box car or two or more of a freight train of all of this pent-up anger and pain. The closer we hold onto these memories, the more a part of us they become until we believe that we are a bad, terrible, unforgiveable person. When we even begin to consider forgiving ourselves these “I am a bad, unforgiveable person” thoughts wash over us like a tsunami and we can’t begin to conceive how we can even begin the process. The task just seems too overwhelming. So, we choose to continue life as usual because we’ve found a way to cope with who we are and to change is too monumental an undertaking.
When we try to forgive someone else, a similar process happens. Because we are still in emotional pain or literally have physical scars from what they did to us, the thought of forgiving them meets with a mountain of resistance. We still hurt and the wounds in our hearts and on our bodies are palpable. We think that if we forgive this person then they will have gotten away with this awful thing that they did to us. If we forgive them then we are giving them a license to hurt us again which makes us afraid of encountering more pain. But when you forgive someone who has hurt you, it doesn’t mean that you are letting that person off the hook. It doesn’t mean that you are excusing that person for their offenses. It doesn’t even mean that you are completely over what they’ve done. It simply means that you are letting yourself off of their emotional hook.
Or we may decide that we will forgive them when they apologize. But, even if we get one, we may hold back our forgiveness because we don’t know if the person is sincere or not. This is another vicious cycle we put ourselves in.
Sometimes there is a fear that if we forgive the person that we will feel the need to resume a relationship or meet them face-to-face. We can still maintain boundaries for our protection because sometimes that is the only way to keep us from being hurt again if the person hasn’t changed their ways. We do not have to meet the offender or even verbalize our forgiveness to them if they are alive because the forgiveness comes from our hearts. The forgiveness in our hearts merely says “I am releasing you from the expectation that you will ever be able to make right the hurt you caused me.” This is particularly helpful if the person is deceased and there is no way to have a conversation with them.
We may feel that we cannot forgive the infractions unless we also forget that it happened. In reality, we don’t want to forget. We want to remember the ways that we are hurt and chalk them up to life experiences. This helps us to create healthy boundaries and safeguards ourselves from being victims of the same offense again. When we recognize a situation similar to what hurt us before, we can take action to either avoid it or, depending on how much personal work we have done on ourselves, observe it from a different perspective and change our reaction to it. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that we learn from what happened so we set ourselves up for a better result in the future.
Whatever our reasons for choosing not to forgive, we remain in chains of emotional bondage to those we refuse to forgive. By withholding forgiveness, we are saying “You will never be able to make this right.” But what we are ultimately saying is: “I will always hold onto this pain.” That is where you don’t want to be – stuck in a place of pain. When you are stuck there you end up living with the burden of bitterness which can become bondage. Instead, you can choose live freely by freely forgiving.
We choose to forgive ourselves and others not because we/they deserve forgiveness, but because we deserve peace. It is a choice to help ourselves – to release the emotional prison we’ve construction that is no longer serving us and is in fact, keeping love out. Forgiveness is ultimate an act of love for ourselves – to allow us to feel peace, joy and love again.
Forgive Yourself First
Forgiveness is an act of self-love whether we are forgiving ourselves or another. It occurs when we arrive at a place where our personal peace and happiness is more important to us than the desire to continue to put ourselves down or for us to be “right” and make someone else “wrong”.
When we forgive ourselves first we begin to see our own underlying wounds and how they cause us to react in “off balance” ways towards others. As mentioned in a previous module, when we have an experience in life and we react a certain way, the amygdala in the brain stores that incident and the emotion as a memory. Then when a similar situation occurs we automatically react the same way and don’t know why. These are the wounds and the “off balance” ways that we react. As we begin to understand and come to peace with how we show up and react to the world, we can begin to accept our imperfect humanness and make choices in what we say and do that reflects who we really want to be because we are no longer controlled by who we were.
To forgive yourself, you first need to acknowledge where you are in pain. You can’t heal something until you admit to yourself that it is there and to take responsibility for your own feelings.
Much of the Resolution Obstacle Buster program has been a self-exploration of life experiences and how you have been hurt by them. Depending on how much personal work you have done to release long-held pain will determine how ready you are to forgive yourself. A good way to help you discover negative feelings about yourself that remain is this Challenge Statements exercise which accesses your unconscious programming.
Challenge Statements Exercise
This exercise is a simple way to reveal unconscious programming. You simply say something and listen for an inner response.
Example: If you say “I am an elephant” your inner response will be a “No” or something similar. If you say “My first name is (your first name)” then you will get a “Yes” or something similar.
Now you know what a “No” and a “Yes” feel like in response to a question.
To use the exercise to uncover things that you have said or done that, right now, you can’t forgive yourself for, create statements of those things.
Example: Say “I accept myself”. What answer do you get, Yes or No?
If your internal response was a No, what came up as a reason why you do not accept yourself? What is the memory or memories? Use EFT to work on releasing what you remember and the emotions connected with anything that you remember.
Then there is the Ultimate Challenge Statement. Say “I completely and totally accept myself, exactly as I am right now.” Was your internal response a Yes or a No?
If your response was a No, then repeat the EFT process to clear whatever memories are still resident.
These statements are a good place to begin to understand what may be holding you back from totally forgiving and accepting yourself but if you move forward to forgive yourself and find that there is still resistance, then use statements that are more specific to things that you have said or done that you feel are unforgivable.
Example: Say “I forgive myself for closing the gate on my little sister’s arm which caused it to break and really hurt her.”
If a Yes surfaces, then you are comfortable with how you feel about yourself and your part in that incident and you need not do anything more. If a No comes up, then explore all of the aspects of the situation and what feelings remain with EFT until the response to the statement is a Yes.
Repeat this process with everything you can think of that you feel regret, remorse, shame, about, that you are angry at yourself for and that causes you pain and sadness. Treat yourself with the same degree of love and compassion that you would when consoling a friend. Once you have cleared out all of the negative attachment to the event, then tap in positive feelings and statements about yourself. Express how you feel, what has changed in you, what you can look forward to and how your future will be different now that you have released the burden.
Examples of positive statements:
I am a good person.
I did it.
I feel (state how you feel about letting go of that incident).
I feel free.
I forgive myself.
I love myself.
I feel lighter.
I feel confident.
I am free to live my own life now.
I have let it all go.
During this process you will begin to stop thinking about “them” and will start thinking about you! It is essential to your health and mental well-being that you release the dynamics of these life experiences. Let go of all of the issues and associated reactions of your perceptions of fear, hurt, anger and other emotions that you have felt toward yourself. Doing this is truly an act of love for you and your body!
Once you bring loving compassion, acceptance and forgiveness to yourself, then it is easier to extend compassion, love and forgiveness to others.
“If you feel that you have been “unjusted” and are looking for “justice”,
you may be looking for the wrong thing.
What would happen if you sought love instead?
And what would happen if you gave love instead of seeking it?
This might require a bit of forgiveness.
Yet if you start with yourself – if you begin by forgiving yourself
for all the things you may have done that were not okay with another,
you will find it much easier to forgive another
for what was done that is not okay with you.
– Neale Donald Walsch
“Refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison
and waiting for the other person to die.”
Once we have completed the process of forgiving ourselves and begin to feel the freedom, love and peace that we have been denied, then it is time to do a similar process to forgive those toward whom we still harbor ill feelings. You may also apply these steps to helping you forgive yourself.
1. The first step is to hold the intention to have the courage to look at these things. Depending on how, why or by whom you have been wronged, forgiving yourself may or may not be easier than forgiving someone else.
2. Next, make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Remember, forgiveness is for you, not the other person. It is about no longer being a victim of what happened. Resist not wanting to move forward because of the lost possibilities thinking about them brings up, i.e. things that would have, could have should have happened had this injustice not been done to you.
3. Conduct an inventory of all who you have not forgiven in your life. Make a list of all those who may have hurt you from childhood to the present time. Write down each of their names and how they hurt you. Add how you feel about it – sad, angry, disappointed, abandoned, betrayed. Accept that you may never get an apology from the person who wronged you and that you are forgiving them in order to heal yourself emotionally and physically.
4. Begin reviewing the events one by one. Get the right perspective on what happened. Understand that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and possibly physical discomfort/illness that you are experiencing now, not what offended or hurt you a month, a year or ten years ago. So, focus on how you feel right now about what happened.
5. Use EFT to release all of the aspects of the episode and neutralize the negative emotions. You may also use the Challenge Statements explained above except change the statement to include the person and the action that you are forgiving. This will be the barometer to determine if you have completely forgiven them.
It Takes Time
Unless we are beginning the practice of forgiveness at a very young age when we have not acquired so much pain, resentment, sadness anger and remorse, it will take time. In the world of impatience in which we live, we want everything to happen “right now!” But in reality, time heals all wounds. If the painful infraction happened yesterday, it may be weeks, months or years before we are ready to entertain the idea of forgiveness. The sooner the better for our own well-being, but for many it is difficult to take the first step mentioned above of having the courage to even “go there”.
Forgiveness is change, and change takes time. Aristotle said “Time is the measurement of change.” The amount of change any person can take at one time differs. It is dependent on how many balls they are juggling in their lives and what their priorities are. It depends on how much emotional pain they are experiencing. It may depend on what their state of health is. If they are on their deathbed, they will not be thinking “I wish I’d stayed angry longer”. An event may prompt the need to forgive or be forgiven, such as the imminent demise of someone that they have been hurt by or that they need forgiveness from for causing them pain. They realize that if they don’t do this now, they will never have the chance and don’t want to live with the regret.
The tolerance level of the pain can trigger the desire to forgive. There may come a time when we just don’t want to live with the emotional agony anymore and realize it is time to make amends.
Whether it has been a few days or a few years since the offence, EFT helps speed up the process because it releases the emotional pain that we carry around and keeps us stuck. It can help us get to the first step in the Forgiving Others section above by taking away the fear and trepidation of even thinking about what is required to begin the forgiving process.
Forgiveness holds the possibility for expanding our capacity to love. There is only one reason to forgive. If we want to be free, if we want to live as the full and unlimited expression of ourselves, if we want our hearts to open, then we are being invited to put an end to all stories that keep us closed and contracted.
Other Methods to Aid the Forgiveness Journey
Write a letter and then burn it.
This activity gets it off your chest and allows you to release all of the pent-up feelings you have around what happened and the person involved. Using EFT during this process will help you more fully release all that is holding you captive.
Say a prayer.
Here is an example of a prayer that you can say or make up your own.
Dear Father, Mother, Uni-verse,
I ask to be assisted to release whatever is binding me to these judgments
and for the grace of forgiveness to flood my mind, my body and my soul,
all for the highest good of all concerned.
I forgive myself for judging myself as ____________,
I ask to be showered with a sweet joy.
So be it.”
Go to Confession
Just talking to someone in confidence can help to relieve the pressure of holding onto the pain. Catholics can attend confession and talk about their troubles, then receive forgiveness from God and do as the priest instructs for their penance.
Go to a Counselor or Coach
These are other professionals that can help guide you through the forgiveness process and be a person that you can open up your feelings to which can bring about emotional relief.
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Christine Hunt hereafter known as “The Coach” is a Certified EFT Practitioner but not a medical professional. The information The Coach conveys during the Resolution Obstacle Buster program is primarily from her experience as an EFT Coach or from books, articles, newsletters and papers, written by medical professionals or experts in the health & wellness fields. Your participation in this program signifies your acceptance of complete and full responsibility in your use of this information and will in no way hold The Coach liable. The Coach cannot guarantee participants’ expected outcomes, from use of this information, since participants’ results will vary based on their diligence in applying the recommended work and the complexity of their life history. It is recommended that you consult a medical/psychological professional if you have any concerns.