November marks the anniversary of the end of World War 1 (Nov 11, 1918). It was also in this month that the world witnessed the dismantling of the Berlin Wall (Nov 9, 1989) – a nearly three decade-old symbol of the cold war. Humans have had to forgive past atrocities in order to usher in a new era of peace and understanding.
The notion to forgive others is etched into the hearts and minds of majority of humans through the teachings of faith-based organizations. According to the US Central Intelligence Agency, nearly 90% of the world population subscribes to an organized form of religion. Religious Scriptures convey the importance of forgiveness with sincerity but remain virtually silent on the ‘how to’ transform the associated set of emotions. Studies have shown that suppressing emotions have the potential to result in physical and mental illnesses if left unchecked.
In this article, we will discuss the nature of forgiveness in the human psyche followed by the ‘how to’ of transforming these emotions. Successful transmutation of depleting emotions such as anger and grief gives rise to the emergence of renewing and rejuvenating emotions. It is upon this platform that forgiveness with sincerity is achieved.
Forgiveness is Good for the Soul
At the very core of our being, there is a sense that forgiveness is the ultimate path to the Divine. Perhaps it is because majority of earth’s citizens rely on various Scriptures conveying the wisdom of forgiveness:
Christianity – .. if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you…(Mathew 6:14-15).
Islam – .. But if you pardon and overlook and forgive – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful .. (Qur’an 64:14)
Judaism – ..One who overcomes their natural tendencies (i.e. to hold onto a grudge) and instead forgives, all their sins are forgiven ( Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 17a)
If one believes that God dwells within, garnering forgiveness from God is merely looking in the mirror and forgiving oneself. This interpretation is valid in this case because no separation exists between the two. Even if one believes that man is separate from God in every manner possible, Scriptures point to the notion that forgiveness will beget Heavenly Father’s absolution.
Whatever one’s interpretation is, logic dictates that forgiveness is central to an individual experiencing something beyond herself… perhaps something esoteric … something Divine. In the initial stages of being triggered by another, a counter force of anger challenges the innate desire to forgive. If someone harms your loved one, how easy is it to immediately reach for forgiveness? Furthermore, if you are a strict adherent to Scriptures, how likely are you to add the draining emotion of ‘guilt’ to the already underlying depleting emotion of anger simply because you are unable to forgive instantly? Forgiveness without the underlying emotion of compassion falls short of sincere forgiveness. In this case, suppressed emotions will potentially cause a decline in one’s own health in addition to impaired emotional regulation (quick to snap).
Forgiveness is Good for the Physical Body
Research shows that energy renewing emotions such as compassion, joy, love, appreciation, care, etc. serve to induce the repair and rejuvenate functions of the body – including the increased production of the anti-aging vitality hormone DHEA. These emotions also reduce the amount of stress hormone cortisol produced by the body. The same research shows the exact opposite effect in case of depleting emotions of anger, frustration and anxiety. A higher ratio of cortisol to DHEA is produced in the body thereby not only inhibiting the immune system but impairing cognitive functioning. There indeed is wisdom in Scriptures.
Path to Forgiveness: Creating a Sense of Ease
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Laozi (6th Century BC)
To achieve sincere forgiveness, the emotion of anger needs to be transformed into compassion. This transmutation is not easy to achieve in a single step and requires intermediate ones.
The first step is to transform anger to a neutral state of ease. This may require several attempts before one is ready to invite compassion into the heart – the necessary ingredient to achieve forgiveness with sincerity.
Ask yourself – “where do I feel most at ease? at an ocean? in a forest? atop a mountain? spending time with my loved ones?”. Close your eyes and experience ease by visualizing yourself in your place of ease. The accompanying set of emotions will counter-act the emotions of anger and prepare you to move towards compassion so you can forgive.
Steps: Anger to Forgiveness
When feeling angry or upon the emergence of rage, begin to reach into the emotions of your place of ease. Taking slow, deep breaths while experiencing the calmness of ease will reduce the intensity of anger and set you up to step into forgiveness.
Perform this exercise for 5 to 15 minutes each time the feeling of anger surfaces. Over time, you will reach the thousandth step and forgive with sincerity.
About the Author
Shamir S. Ladhani, P.Eng., M.Eng., is a Professional Engineer and a Certified HeartMath™ Trainer. He is a seasoned senior manager, lecturer and workshop facilitator. He has helped his clients increase their flow of income, improve their sleep and reduce the intensity of their emotions in the face of adversity.
After serving as a Vice-President of a dynamic and fast-paced energy company, Shamir decided to pursue his passion in the health and wellness industry and formed Panther Power Corporation in 2014. His motivation was fueled by how well his body responded to alternative healing methods in helping him eliminate symptoms associated with diabetes and hypertension. Today he is excited about sharing the amazing tools and techniques developed by the Institute of HeartMath especially because these are scientifically validated simple techniques with an amazing set of results for virtually all health maladies.
To learn more about how you can receive the benefits of twenty years of scientific research and evidence-based tools and techniques, visit Panther Power Corporation website