Last week was a difficult week. The massive senseless violence left me shocked and dismayed. I also found myself rethinking the struggle of the “soon to be” butterfly within his cocoon as he struggles to break free. (See my previous blog entitled “Lessons From A Butterfly”). As I struggled with my own negative and sometimes judgmental feelings about the events in Boston and the explosions in Texas, I began to realize that we humans are all, in some way struggling within our own self made cocoons of misery. It seems to me that many of us are trying to change our lives, “let go” of old belief systems that no longer serve, “let go” of anger directed toward our culture and/or those who have hurt us, “move on” to something better and healthier. But I think we get stuck. I know I do. This “Letting go” thing can be really hard. I know it is for me, especially when I feel really justified about what I believe. Problem is, feeling “justified” does not mean feeling happy, or feeling “at peace”…and that’s what I really want. So, what can we do then? How can any of us help our own selves move through the anger, the anxiety, and the angst that feels so real within us. I have a couple of ideas to try out on you.
My first idea draws upon a verse from the Bible. This is a very familiar verse, memorialized by the Byrds in their famous song “Turn, Turn, Turn. It is actually from Ecclesiates verse 3 of the Bible. Here’s how it goes :
To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to break down, and time to build up
A time to laugh, a time to weep
A time of war, a time of peace
This is just a small part of the entire verse, but it goes on in a similar vein.
For me this verse offers comfort at times of great turmoil because the message is that all our life experiences are part of the whole, and there is an appropriate “season” for them to show up in our lives. Perhaps the concept can also be extended to the people who show up and then die, or people who leave us in cruel and unimaginable ways…or horrifying events which make no sense at the time they occur. It can be easier to grasp the meaning of an event after some time passes and we get some perspective. This is when we may get an ”aha” moment and appreciate the lesson learned, but at the time the event is happening our struggle is to just accept it.
In the meantime, I would like to offer one other idea, which can be a very powerful spiritual practice for dissolving anger, guilt, resentment, and other toxic emotions that can keep us in the “deep freeze” of arrested emotional growth. This is of course, the practice of forgiveness…the ultimate “letting go”. Its easier said than done, of course, but I think if we can consistently practice all parts of it, it can be really effective. The idea is to spend quiet time within your own mind, on a regular basis and repeat these three forgiveness intentions:
- For all those I have harmed, knowingly or unknowingly, I am truly sorry…forgive me and set me free.
- For all of those who have harmed me, knowingly or unknowingly, I forgive them and set them free
- For the harm I have done to myself, knowingly or unknowingly, I am truly sorry. I forgive myself and set myself free
So, that’s it. I think the three parts are all important, as well as the inclusion of “knowingly and unknowingly”. Truthfully, we don’t always know how we have hurt people, nor do they know they have hurt us. Also, we often don’t acknowledge the harm we do to ourselves. Nevertheless, the hurt is done…and needs to be addressed
I’m hoping I can take this practice into my own healing this week. I hope you can too.