7 July, 2021

Breathworks Teacher & Marketing Coordinator Ollie Bray shares his thoughts on forgiveness and why healing starts from within.

Today - Wednesday 7th July - is Global Forgiveness Day.

Forgiveness is such an important practice, since as David Whyte said, "All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness". Indeed, almost any kind of relationship is based on a continuing willingness to forgive, for the simple reason that nobody is perfect. 

Of course, learning to forgive others doesn’t mean condoning harmful behaviour, or that we accept mistreatment. Indeed, we may need to never see or speak again to the person for whom we are practicing forgiveness. 

And forgiveness is indeed an ongoing practice, not a simple act or decision; it’s a practice which requires letting go - again and again - of thoughts and intentions that cause us suffering, and a willingness to understand our shared humanity and imperfectness. As Alain de Botton said, "forgiveness requires a sense that bad behaviour is a sign of suffering rather than malice."

Finally, one of the most important people to learn how to forgive is yourself. It is often easier to accept the flaws in others than in ourselves, yet we are just as worthy of our own forgiveness. Many of us have a sense - picked up from our parents, our culture, or somewhere else - that we should somehow be perfect, and this can be an immense burden to bear. Learning to hold one’s perceived shortcomings and mistakes with that same forgiveness can be deeply healing.

What can you do to start practicing a little forgiveness today? A great place to start might be this compassion meditation from Vidyamala.