Forgiveness is the tip of the iceberg of self-transformation. When an unforgiving heart is healed it is arguably one the most transforming experiences one can have.
For 12 years Martin Hausner has been conducting workshops on forgiveness. What happens in the process is truly amazing and below I explain the transformations that take place through The Sattva Way forgiveness workshops.
Forgiveness is about alignment. It is about bringing our lives into integrity with what we believe. When we want to forgive but don’t, we live a life that is incongruent with our values. The result is we suffer internally from being a divided person. Spirituality means becoming whole by living in alignment with the spiritual qualities inherent within us. In our workshop we explore our level of integrity and then learn how to become aligned with our values.
Learning to forgive entails more than just dealing with resentment; it is about changing the way we respond to the world. Responding with revenge is a symptom of a broader problem: responding to the world from our lower self. Every interaction is an opportunity to manifest our spiritual or higher qualities of compassion, understanding, and forgiveness. But it is also an opportunity to respond from the conditioned tendencies of anger, impatience, and revenge. In our workshop we explore how to respond positively to mistreatment or abuse by connecting with our higher self.
Forgiveness is about developing compassion: being able to see the world from the perspective of the person who hurt you and to empathize with their trials and struggles. Rather than wanting to hurt them, we start to feel their pain, understand their needs, and see that they were not trying to hurt us (but were just trying to cope with life.) For forgiveness to appear in our heart we must grow in compassion, and in our workshop we engage in exercises to awaken the compassion that exists within our heart that often becomes covered while we are busy dealing with our own struggles in life.
Life is about stories, and our emotions are connected with our stories. Forgiving is about re-writing our stories from a different and higher perspective. People often say it takes time to forgive. But forgiveness happens as soon as we change the way we see the situation. So forgiving can be instantaneous because our emotional response is coming from our perception of the situation. Change the way you see things and the things you see change! There are exercises in our workshop through which we explore how our emotional states are linked to our stories and that changing our emotional state is as simple as changing our stories. The healing process involves elevating our consciousness, thereby allowing us to see our stories from a more spiritual perspective.
Facing and experiencing our pain is imperative for the healing process to begin. Many of us lock our problems in a closet, but its toxicity still fills the air we breathe. The only way out of a problem is through it, and by experiencing the depth of the problem we gain the impetus to overcome it. When we allow ourselves to fully face and experience our resentment, we become able to deal . In doing this you develop the ability to not only face and heal your resentment, but you gain the power to deal with the other problems you have been resisting. This is huge!
When we experience our emotions more deeply, we become aware of the depth to which we unconsciously suppress them. Additionally, we learn that intelligence or guidance comes from fully experiencing them. Suppression is what we naturally do to avoid experiencing painful emotions. But emotions guide us. So when we suppress them, we cut ourselves off from the guidance they are giving us. Pain tells us that something is wrong, and when we allow ourselves to feel our pain, internal guidance of what is wrong and how to heal is received. Thus, we learn the value of getting more in touch with our emotions in a way that elevates us rather than degrades us.
Why does someone’s behavior cause us to be resentful while another person may not be upset by the same behavior? To answer this question we explore the concept of Core Hurts and Core Needs. Where there is resentment, there is an unmet expectation connected with a deep need. Without that core need there will be no resentment, even if an expectation is unmet. This deep need stems from the past when we received insufficient love, were regularly put down, betrayed, misunderstood, neglected, etc. (These are called Core Hurts.) There are tools in the workshop through which we explore our core hurts and needs. By doing so we learn that our resentment is about our needs for a person to be a certain way, and these needs are connected with our core hurts. Most of us are unaware of how our core needs are constantly affecting our relationships. People often say that if the person I am trying to forgive would just apologize (rectify themselves, pay for the mistake, etc.), then I could forgive them. What this means is that we put the power to forgive in our abuser’s hands. We make ourselves helpless in improving ourselves when we place conditions that others must adhere to in order for us to change. In our workshop we explore how forgiving requires taking control of our lives despite what our offender does, that the power for us to let go lies within us, not within them. We come to understand how this applies to every situation in our lives.
There is an exercise in which we discover why we may wish to hold on to resentment, i.e. what “benefits” we derive from not forgiving. One of the main benefits is that we have a scapegoatsomeone to blame for our failures. If we forgive, then who will we blame? If we let go of resentment then we will have to take responsibility for how we feel and for the results we get in our lives. We learn that to forgive we must stop blaming another person for our own failings. And when we do this we take back our power – and our lives.
In this same exercise we also realize that the main “benefit” we derive from resentment is so-called power and control. Anger is power; resentment affords control. Staying angry at our abuser seems to protect us from further mistreatment. Also, we desperately cling to resentment to remain “in control.” But the reality is just the opposite. Resentment does not give us control; it puts us under the control of our anger. Resentment only fuels our anger, and this gives us a false sense of power and control. And resentment does not give us protection; it destroys us.
In spiritual practice, the condition of the heart and mind is fundamentally important. To allow toxic thoughts and feelings to remain in our heart is destructive. Maintaining purity of the heart is the basis of spiritual life, yet we often give up this purity for the satisfaction of getting back at someone. So in the name of achieving some “benefit,” we become our worst enemy and thus destroy ourselves. As Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” In our workshop we explore the toxic effects resentment has on us, allowing ourselves to fully feel the heavy burden of holding onto a grudge.
It is said that the fault you see in others is usually a fault you have. What we dislike in ourselves, we dislike in others. To acknowledge this is essential to the forgiveness process, and to growth in general. But it is not always easy. Our ego resists: it doesn’t want to see our faults. Yet progress entails seeing and correcting our own defects, whereas seeing faults in others has no redeeming value. In the forgiveness process, as in any process of self-growth, focus cannot be on the faults of another but must be on improving oneself. We explore this psychological reality, how it affects us, and discover many insightful reasons why our need to pull others down is so strong.
Beliefs are powerful. They are the unspoken rules that guide our behavior. The problem is that we are guided by beliefs we don’t even know we have. And many of these beliefs are the very reasons we are unable to let go of our resentment. We discover that all of us have beliefs that undermine some of the most important goals in our lives, and that changing these beliefs is foundational to achieving those goals. We discover the beliefs that may be preventing us from forgiving, but more importantly we discover that these are the same beliefs that are preventing us from achieving all of our goals!
Is the person who hurts us an abuser or a divine messenger, someone harming us or someone bringing a valuable lesson? And if he is a messenger, what message is he bringing? Every event in life is an opportunity to grow. Through role playing we discover the message our hurt is meant to bring, a message we need to learn to prevent further hurt. Resentment is a symptom of a deeper issue, an issue that has likely been affecting us for years, if not our entire lives (or even lifetimes). It surfaces as resentment, but its source is deeper – and it plays out in many ways. When we achieve a more spiritual vision of reality, we discover that there was ultimately no one to forgive, for our “abuser” was simply a messenger of our karma, karma that we created and karma that we needed to experience for our own purification.
Resentment has a negative impact on us – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Thus forgiving transforms us on all three levels. This means forgiving is not just about healing one toxic relationship; it is about holistic healing and transformation. It is about a change in consciousness that transforms our relationship with ourselves, others and God.
I invite you to enter the transforming world of forgiving and let go of your resentment through our various forgiveness workshops.