Those of us who are pursuing conscious journeys of self-realization or spiritual evolution are no strangers to the idea of opening our heart. But while we hear this guiding advice often, many of us don’t quite know what to do with it, and how is it that we are supposed to open our heart. We know that heart disease is prevalent at unprecedented levels in our society today, but open heart surgery is far from what opening your heart is all about. So how does one begin to understand and apply the idea of opening one’s heart?
There are many ways to the same outcome, many paths to the same place. These ideas are not just practical, but offer timeless wisdom as well. All too often in our world we bicker and quarrel over how to do things, with many trying to force their particular ways onto others. Well, as we know with certainty today, there is no one right way, or one right path for each person. We are all too unique, too diverse and each have our own needs depending on our personal spiritual evolution.
And it is this very idea that holds true for opening our hearts as well. There is no one way to open our heart. There are many. These include thoughts, words and actions of love, compassion, kindness and gratitude to all beings and things in our presence, including ourselves. The more we practice, apply and live these virtues and emotions, the more we open our heart. The more we open our heart, the more we become the frequency of love and experience our Divine capacity, which is our natural state of being. This state has been diminished, forgotten and neglected over lifetimes, and today we are finally coming back home to ourselves.
On this journey of home coming, there is one other significant way to open our heart. In fact it is one of the most powerful ways to soften a hardened heart, heal a wounded heart, and open a closed heart. This way is called forgiveness and it is the key that opens our heart and gives us the capability to express love, compassion, kindness and gratitude in limitless ways. Each of these can open our heart further, but without forgiveness we may be stifled on our journey and unable to move forward. After all how do you show love, or kindness, or compassion to someone you hold a grudge against? How do you express gratitude for someone who you believe hurt you? And so we quickly come to understand the essential role forgiveness must play on our journey if we are to open our heart fully.
What is Forgiveness
Over the centuries, the idea of forgiveness has gone through many explanations and understandings. In fact, it is still a highly misunderstood subject for many on our planet today. All too often we think that forgiveness is something we need to do for the “other” person. The person that wronged us, or hurt us in some way, and that it is “them” who require our forgiveness. Religions have been trying for centuries to instill in people the importance of forgiveness, yet all too often the message still came across as something we ought to do for another. This has made forgiveness that much harder to achieve, for how do you give someone you hold ill feelings about a precious gift? Likewise, religions have instilled the idea of forgiveness as something done in relation to the act of “sinning” or done out of fear or obligation, which tends to disempower us, rather than uplift us in profound ways.
When we listen to ancient teachers of wisdom, sages and philosophers alike who understood the true essence of forgiveness, we begin to see a whole other picture however. Gautama Siddharta (Buddha) shared that the more we understand (expand our consciousness), the more we forgive. When we understand everything, we forgive everything. Author and spiritual teacher Neale Donald Walsch for example, shares that in truth there is nothing to forgive for no one does anything wrong given their model of the world. Forgiveness in essence becomes the act of looking beyond a word or action, and not losing sight of the divine nature of each being.
Spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy shares the following words:
“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.”What priceless and precious wisdom! Remember your soul is love and knows only love. It is our Ego that wants to judge and condemn. However when we become aware of this within us and observe it for the illusion it is, we immediately release its hold on us, being available to engage in forgiveness and opening of our heart.
When we listen to our own inner being, we step into the knowing that forgiveness is simply the act of releasing. Releasing attachments to any kind of perceived wrong doing by the self or another. It does not mean that we support the action that got us to the place of pain or suffering in the first place. Rather, it means we see it with a conscious presence and come to grasp the larger awareness of how unconsciousness (fear, ignorance, etc.) played a role in the consequence experienced. Anyone who hurts another being or themselves is simply acting from a place of unconsciousness. This is not meant to excuse any actions, but meant to widen your perspective and understanding. Each person has their own needs, their own view of reality, their own Karma, their own spiritual evolution journey. It is futile to expect others to do what we want, or how we want it, or when we want it. It is futile to hold grudges and resentments. It is not meant to make us feel bad, but everything that happens to us is in some way self-created, whether in this lifetime or another. Everything is a reflection of who we are being. So have the courage to look at your life, what is being reflected to you?
As Mahatma Gandhi shared, forgiveness is an act of the strong, not the weak. And the strength is within you always to forgive. It just takes a conscious choice from you on the level of your soul as you realize that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. You are not doing it for the other. Each time we hold back forgiveness, we are the one carrying around the burden of pain and suffering. What is happening with the other person is their business and part of their journey. They may be holding onto the pain of what they did, or they may have released it by forgiving themselves. You on the other hand block the flow of love in your life, keep your heart hardened and small when you refuse to forgive. And in the end, it is the act of unforgiving that hurts us more than any thing that may have been done or said to us.
What Forgiveness is Not
As shared above, forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves. That is if we want to progress on our journey of spiritual evolution and live with inner peace and joy. Many people claim that forgiveness is hard. Yet this very belief is what holds us back from the very act of forgiveness. The act of forgiveness is in fact very easy, and can happen instantaneously the moment you choose it so. Only the Ego sees forgiveness as something that is “hard” or “challenging”. From your soul’s perspective, there is in fact nothing to forgive. There is simply awareness, and remembering.
So to get a good understanding of forgiveness and start applying it in your life today, let’s examine a few things that forgiveness is not.
Forgiveness is not about justice. If the words revenge, or getting even are part of your idea of forgiveness, you are going to have a very trying time in your life. You will be hurting yourself and making life very unpleasant by living with the illusory idea that you are the judge of what is right or wrong in the Divine order of life.
Forgiveness is not about having things be the way they were. We have to understand that things are always changing, and to go back to the way things “were” would be to literally de-evolve. Things will never be the same way again whether you like or dislike someone, whether you choose to forgive them or not. This is the nature of life. Each moment is unique and we need to embrace what is, rather than try to regain what was. Likewise, forgiveness is not about going back to toxic environments or ones that are incongruent with who you are. To do so is to blatantly keep hurting yourself.
Forgiveness is not about inviting someone back into your life who you know to be out of resonance with you. Many people in fact hold back on forgiveness because they live with the idea that doing so will mean they will need to be friends or lovers, or closely associated with the particular person whom they believe hurt them in some way. Remember, forgiveness is for you, and while you should forgive everyone and love everyone, it does not mean that you should be closely associated with everyone. To continue in a close association with someone who you know to be out of resonance with you is to keep causing yourself, and them, harm.
Forgiveness is not about guilt or obligation. You do not need to do anything. There is no angry God up in the sky who is commanding you to do something, and will punish you if you do not. We have released such ideas and evolved beyond them today to understand that forgiveness is a conscious act that should be done out of one’s own free will. If you don’t want to forgive you don’t have to, but you are hurting yourself on numerous levels by not doing so.
Forgiveness as the Best Medicine to Heal and Prevent Disease
Another vital aspect to understand about the benefits of forgiveness are actually directly associated with our physical health. The newly released documentary The Cure Is… unveils one of the most profound, ancient health formulas to be released in over a century, and this formula includes you guessed it—forgiveness. Modern health science, metaphysics and psychology is today presenting an increasing amount of information on how powerful the act of forgiveness can be. As Dr. Bruce Lipton explains, the chemistry of the body controls the fate and genetics of the cell and the chemistry is related to the mind’s interpretation of the world, and that interpretation releases the chemistry. So if we are creating a toxic chemistry for ourselves based on toxic thoughts, it is no wonder this is having a direct negative impact on our health. Everything from cancer and infections, to depression and heart disease has an emotional or energetic connection at its root cause. Unresolved hurts and traumas are playing a bigger role in our health than we perhaps could have ever imagined.
Having a closed heart, holding onto resentments, anger, or hostility all negatively impact our health. Repressing and suppressing our feelings and emotions does so as well, with deleterious consequences as we are learning today. By thinking that forgiveness is something done for another, or something we cannot do, we are hurting ourselves on a physical, mental and emotional level. Everything suffers, including of course the quality of our life.
When we decide to forgive, release and let go of whatever we think we did, or another person did that was “so bad”, we begin our journey of healing. We begin to turn the key and open our heart. An open heart allows us to tap into our innocence, rather than guilt, the latter of which is toxic to our energy and health. And so today, as cancer and heart disease rates continue to sky rocket (among numerous other health conditions) isn’t it time we stop the pain and suffering, and begin our healing? As The Cure Is… shares, all the right foods, exercises, products and services are not enough when there is a toxic environment going on in our mind, and spilling over to all parts of our body.
Forgiveness requires nothing in return. If you want to give yourself a gift, forgive. - Dr. Bernie Siegel, M.D. – The Cure Is…Forgive, Forgive, Forgive!
Aside from being held back from opening our heart because we think we need to forgive another for their sake, many have been held back by thinking that they need to be forgiven by some other as well. Therefore, know this and remember it always: just as you do not forgive another for their sake, no one needs to forgive you for your sake. You, you, you – it all comes down to YOU! You are the creator of your reality, and you dictate how your life will go. While we can never control what others do or don’t do, we always have the choice and power to be responsible for our emotions—our joy and inner peace—and our state of being.
You do not need permission from anyone. You do not need a special holiday or religious inclination. Forgiveness is always here and ready for you, when you are. So go ahead, set yourself free and forgive. Forgive everyone. Forgive for everything. Forgive yourself.
Forgive the lover, partner or spouse that you feel hurt or betrayed you. It is the best gift you can give yourself to heal. Simply bless them on their way, as you create a new reality that is in resonance with who you are.
Forgive the boss, the coworker, the employee for any wrong doing you feel they did. It is the best gift you can give yourself to be free of pain, stress and suffering. Release them to be and do what they need, as you give yourself the opportunity to be and do what you need.
Forgive the parent, the child, the family member who you feel wronged you by doing or not doing something you expected. It is the best gift you can give yourself to release suffering and invite in love. Each being is precious and has their own journey, just as you have yours. Holding expectations over others is the surest way to keep your heart closed.
Forgive the cashier, the truck driver, the police officer for any of their action or inaction. It is the best gift you can give yourself to release unhappiness and invite in joy. Remember, no one does anything wrong given their model of the world.
Forgive yourself for who you were or are, for what you did or didn’t do. It is the best gift you can give yourself to release shame and guilt, as you invite self-love and worth. When you stop judging yourself, the world begins to turn into a much more hospitable place for you to thrive and experience the potential of who you came here to be.
Forgive, and experience your heart opening as you invite in infinite love, joy, health and inner peace into your life.
About the Author:
Evita Ochel is a consciousness expansion teacher, whose diverse passions and expertise span all areas of the mind, body, and spirit. She is a writer, speaker, holistic nutritionist, yoga and meditation teacher, web TV host, and author of Healing & Prevention Through Nutrition. Evita is the creator of several online publications that feature hundreds of articles and videos, as well as classes and courses to empower individuals to consciously create their life and be the change they wish to see. For more information about her work, visit: www.evitaochel.com