Forgiveness is a concept that I associate with my catholic upbringing and it is only just recently that I have really had cause to come to understand its true value and how to apply it. The last six months have been an accelerated personal growth phase for me. The voice generated by #metoo had stirred up many a memory of things that I had “swept under the carpet” and the resurfacing of old wounds, particularly around a theme of betrayal were showing up in ways that were not of service to me, nor those close to me. I had also co-founded a start-up early in 2017 and that business relationship unravelled unexpectedly this April. I found myself questioning my own sense of worth, what skills do I really have to offer and how do I best serve with my remaining 30 or so years, assuming an average life expectancy.
Luckily for me I have been well supported over the years, exposed to some wonderful teachers and I have a good set of resources to help me through such times. The most recent being with my life mastery coach, who helped me understand the role of forgiveness in our own healing. “That everything that happens is given for the possibility of greater growth and that the act of forgiveness is a tool to free us. It is a choice and it’s a process that generates a shift in perception in me that removes a block to loves presence.”
She suggested I generate a list of all of those that had given me “the possibility for greater growth” and gave me a simple prayer to use to help me with my process. I did the list and I found it quite overwhelming. I could see this was not going to be a five-minute exercise.
One of my other key resources is as a student and follower of The Way of Nature. These programs and trainings give us experiences of solo time in nature along with teachings and practises supporting emotional transformation and the release of that which no longer serves us. I first experienced seven days on my own as part of a Sacred Passage retreat in Colorado in 1996 having just broken up with my Colorado cowboy boyfriend (yes, he was on my list), and have partaken in Way of Nature teachings and retreats annually since 2012. My longest retreat was 28 days with no other humans in the mountains of southern Colorado in 2015. I have learnt firsthand that this All One time in nature is very conducive to working through personal difficulties.
I had also recently been lamenting that I wasn’t going to Colorado this August and that I was missing out on my annual solo time in nature. When I looked at my list, I knew that this was just what I needed to do. Friends have recently moved onto on a piece of land at Kuaotunu, north of Whitianga in the Coromandel to provide nature retreats (search for Happylocal Hideaways this summer) and have been inviting me to come and visit for months. A conversation with my husband and a phone call to my friend and I was all sorted. Before I knew it there I was – just me and a tent, the trees, the sound of the stream and newborn lambs in the distant, a most fantastic view out to the Pacific Ocean, and the local resident kiwi. From a Sunday afternoon until the Thursday morning during the phase of the new moon in September. Perfect.
My husband and son helped me with my tent, a few personal belongings, some water and my list, and then they left me to it. I fasted to keep things simple, and also to allow myself the full effects of my time out there. When I arrived, I did a simple ceremony to give gratitude to the land and to ask that it support my quest. I set up my tent and spent some time marking out my space and then getting to know those that already inhabited the area. You can read a little about that in another post “Listening to Nature”.
Gradually I worked my way through my list, holding each person, myself and incident in my mind as I said my forgiveness prayer. As I moved through I could sense the release that was occurring. It was heavy duty on my nervous system and very tiring. The beauty was that I was able to sleep as I needed to, and I gradually felt lighter and clearer. By day three I had pretty much completed my list. This was also the day where the physical body aches that comes with a detox began to ease. There was a moment where I was feeling quite good – and then there was ME. I crumpled for a bit as I realised that I was the one that needed forgiveness the most, and how difficult it is to recognise, let alone to do for one’s self. I could see that all the others had been necessary to move through, in order to get to me. Fortunately, I still had plenty of time and was able to put myself in the centre of my practise. And then I truly felt great. It was like veils I did not realise were there were removed, and the world really did seem brighter and happier. I could feel my heart open and sing and I was immensely grateful.
My coach had told me that the meaning of forgiveness is “to give forth”. Since returning to my regular life I feel lighter, happier and more thankful and there really is so much more of me to give forth to the world. I’ve come away with a new sense of how I want to be in the world, where my actions are not driven from duty or obligation or a need to be needed but arise from a place of freedom and a genuine choice to partake in what the moment requires. It will require discipline to notice when action is not arising from this place of love, to pause, to ask and to listen. And then to trust that my right action will follow. Life will be different now.