I had a teacher who defined forgiveness as: ceasing to cherish the displeasure of something . . . think of ceasing to cherish the thoughts of how horrible a person is, or how unfair a situation was, or even how terrible or unforgiveable we ourselves might be. It took me a long time to wrap my mind around that . . . mostly because I was not willing to cease cherishing a lot of displeasure about people, conditions and things . . . and myself.

One metaphysical principle is to strive to be unaffected by outside people, conditions and things. Well, we are mightily affected by all those things when we cling to displeasures, when we cherish them. We keep gnashing and chewing over all our thoughts and feelings about all those people who wronged us, all those situations that went sideways, all those conditions we didn’t deserve, all those things we should have had or we should have done.

In this temporary retreat time, we might become more aware of these thoughts and feelings lurking in our depths, perhaps flotsam and jetsam we’ve just buried but never hauled out and taken to the dump. The problem is, they carry such energetic weight sometimes they are too heavy to drag out. They seem anchored, weighing us down. We have to lighten the load. This is where forgiveness comes in. And the primary forgiveness is of ourselves. Forgiveness is another facet of Love.

When some of these things come up for me, the first thing I now know to do is have great compassion for me, my very human being. We need to be very loving to ourselves to lighten the load. We forgive ourselves not for what we did, but for thinking we could have done anything else in the moment. Even if we “knew better”, for some reason we couldn’t/didn’t make another choice. In this awareness, we can bless that situation, bless our younger selves (even if it was yesterday), and choose to do something different now or the next time. This is applying Love. And always, in remembering our true nature of Love, in learning to love ourselves, we first apply Love – somehow, some way.

Perhaps you’ve had the experience of forgiving someone for something, but they keep apologizing, they can’t let it go. We can see how it might make us feel better to forgive someone for a transgression against us, but they still have to forgive themselves. Otherwise the forgiveness doesn’t stick.

Over the years, I finally got tired of cherishing a number of displeasures about other people or myself. In this quieter, more focused time, bits and pieces of old baggage are rising up. Just remnants of old stuff. Already looked at, already worked on . . . most layers already forgiven and released. One by one, as deeper, thinner, maybe more squirrelly layers present themselves, I forgive myself again, I am willing to let go maybe a smidgen of the displeasure I might still be holding. Cherishing these displeasures doesn’t feel good. And right now it’s pretty hard to distract myself or get away from what comes up. So I take a breath, and dive deep. Deep into forgiveness, deep into letting go, deep into surrendering what might be holding back my good feeling.

In the deep dive into Love, willingness and forgiveness, we are able to breathe, we don’t drown, we drop the anchors, we unweight our being . . . and we float up to the light, more effortlessly than ever before.