It can be difficult to forgive. But who hurts most when we don’t? This short practice offers a way forward.

1. Take your seat. Take a moment to close your eyes or keep a dull gaze toward the floor. Take a few deep breaths.

2. Picture a person. Visualize a person in your life who has hurt you—maybe not the most extreme person or anyone who has caused you trauma, but this could be a family member, a coworker, or a stranger. Get a sense of the actual event or events that occurred that hurt you.

3. Observe the feeling. Tune in to how the body feels in this moment, and also what emotions are present. Is there a sense of anger, or sadness?

4. See the thoughts. Be aware of the thoughts that are circulating around this person. Notice if there are thoughts of hate, or spiteful thoughts. Feel this burden that lives inside of you from holding on to past hurts. Ask yourself in this moment: Who is suffering? Are you willing to forgive?

And if not, that’s perfectly fine. Perhaps this isn’t the time. And if so, just continue on with this short practice. Breathing in, acknowledge the hurt and pain that’s here. Breathing out, forgive and release this burden from your heart and mind.

You may need to continue this practice off and on for as long as it’s helpful to you.

Everyone forgives at their own pace. You may want to try going through the eight steps of forgiveness created by Robert Enright, Ph.D., one of the world’s leading forgiveness researchers.

Elisha Goldstein

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and conducts a private practice in West Los Angeles. He is creator of the 6-month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion (Atria Books, 2015), The Now Effect (Atria Books, 2012), Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler (Atria Books, 2013), and co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook (New Harbinger, 2010).


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