Forgiveness has been widely correlated with a range of physical benefits including better sleep, lower blood pressure, lower risk of heart disease, increased life expectancy, improved immune system function and that’s just for starters.
The Space Between
A professor once held his hands out in front of him like a zombie, palms down and spaced about a foot apart. ‘Most of our disappointment in life stems from wanting this,’ he jabbed at the air with his left hand, the higher of the two, for emphasis, ‘and getting this,’ he said, jiggling the lowered right hand. And forgiveness is about what you decide to do with this space in the middle. Are you going to adjust what you expect and let the rest go, or are you going to live in this space? Because I’ll tell you what, living in there is miserable.’
It becomes part of you.
Buddhism teaches that people who hold on to the wrongs done to them create an identity around that pain, and it is that identity that continues to be reborn. Forgiveness means letting go of the defended self and practicing ‘a change of heart’.
The Steps to Forgiving
Decades of research into forgiveness has resulted in various approaches and although they differ from one another, they all include practical guidance and the basics are consistent: feel the feelings you need to feel, express them, then leave them in the past where they can no longer have power over you.