Pic Courtesy – https://heartfirsteducation.org/forgiveness-letting-go/
These days generally we start the day with the checking of what’s app massages in the morning. On the 20th of September when I checked the messages, I found many messages on my mobile phone, on FORGIVENESS in Hindi and English. It has been happening for the last many years. But it’s only a coincidence that this year I have noticed it. After going through these messages, I started thinking about the relevance and importance of “FORGIVENESS” in present-day life. When someone very close betrays our trust, or when we become victims of some unexpected incident or emotional breakup, or when we are bullied harshly by someone very close, we get deeply hurt. When we are hurt, our whole inner world gets disrupted, emotionally and cognitively we get hobbled. Consequently, our relationship takes a hit and suffers severally.
The art of practicing letting go of negative emotions, after any undesirable incident or any offence done unknowingly, is the key principle taught by all religions across the globe. In the Jain community, “Samvatsari Day” is considered to be the most auspicious day. That day is celebrated by Jains with great happiness and joy. Samvatsari Day is the last day of the “Paryushan” festival. This year it has been observed and celebrated on the 20th of September. On this day, they seek forgiveness for all the bad “Karmas”, sins, unknowingly they might have committed, any mistake made while performing the rituals saying something wrong, or hurting someone.
Forgiveness grabbed the attention of science in 1994, when scientists, psychologists, and educators started studying its impact on human well-being. Later on, it gained momentum, and a “Global Forgiveness Day” was fixed. It’s celebrated to spread awareness of its healing power and the unique magic of “FORGIVENESS”. It teaches us to put aside old differences, move beyond egos, rivalries, resentments, and anxieties, and finally start a new journey. It’s said that, if we carry the burden of any grief and pain in our hearts for a long time, it can cost us, our physical health, our peace of mind, and the pain in the heart. It has been proved that people who choose to forgive are much healthier and happier than those who don’t forget and hold grudges, and keep resentments in their hearts for a long time. Global Forgiveness Day is celebrated on the 7th of July every year.
Not being able to forgive, fosters feelings of volatility, anger, hostility, stress, and reactions. Forgiveness is the most effective response for reducing all stress-related perceptions. Medical survey reports that stress produces more Cortisol which has several negative effects on our body. Chronically elevated Cortisol can shrink the size of a portion of our brain including the Hippocampus which is responsible for turning experiences into memories. It’s because of this stress cortisol link, that not being able to forgive, could potentially affect our memory. Cortisol wreaks havoc elsewhere in the body too. It affects the immune system at a cellular level which means it can do widespread damage to all the parts of the body. Forgiveness affects the parasympathetic nervous system which slows breathing and heart rate and also increases digestion. It is also known as the “Rest And Digest” response.
The darkness of hatred, rage, hurting, and contempt that we harbor at any given point, injures, not only the person who is to be forgiven but as much as the one who will not forgive. No relationship can endure without a constant component of forgiveness in daily life. Because in every relationship, expectations are an inevitable part. Every expectation can’t be met and the outcome is resentment and reactions. If we keep this attitude of resentment and reactions continued, it’s only we, who will be the main sufferers. Forgiveness can help us in increasing our self-esteem and give us a sense of inner strength and safety. When we suffer a great deal, we can help ourselves by finding some meaning in that experience, what we have endured. In the absence of this, we will lose a sense of purpose which can lead to helplessness and despairing conclusions.
It does not mean we look for suffering in life, instead, we try to see how our sufferings have positively changed us. For example, some of us become more resilient after experiencing deep pain and suffering. It can heal us and allow us to move on, seeking support of meaning and a purpose in life. When we find meaning in our pain and suffering, we become more compassionate and pass that love to others. One who forgives is the prime beneficiary in the process. Cultivating this mindset of our common humanity will help in not to discount someone who has harmed us, as unworthy. The more intensely and more frequently we get hurt, the more important is to forgive. When we successfully imagine forgiving someone, there’s increased activity in the neural circuits, which are responsible for empathy. “Recognising that, we all carry wounds in our hearts can help open the doors to FORGIVENESS”.
By practicing FORGIVENESS, all the virtues automatically start assimilating in us. Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, but rather a symbol of strength. It transcends anger and retaliation fostering mental and spiritual growth. The only way to overcome anger and gain mental peace is forgiveness. Forgiveness removes animosity and the mind becomes light. Because, “To Err Is Human”, we all make mistakes. Forgiveness is a self-purifying process, which helps everybody. We don’t have the right to have all that, we can’t give. What we perceive and expect this world to be, we too must participate and contribute to its creation.
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