What Meditation Teaches Me About Forgiveness

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

I began practicing meditation because I wanted to be present more often in my life. I wasn’t surprised to find that meditating also helped me feel more centered during the day, or that it helped me fall asleep if I did it at night. What I didn’t expect was to learn something about forgiveness.

Although there are a lot of ways to practice mindfulness, my favorite is the typical “close your eyes and sit still for a while” version. I sometimes turn on calming music, but I usually rely on guided meditation, which is when you listen to a recording of someone telling you what to focus on.  Even with that constant coaching, however, my mind still wanders.

Actually, it’s not the wandering that’s a problem. Rarely does meditating create a complete blank space in the mind. But, the goal is to simply notice these wandering thoughts, to let them wander on by without feeling the urge to grab on and let them yank you around.

This is the hardest part of meditating for me (and for most people.) I don’t just observe my thoughts; I chase after them, try to control them, and tell them where to go to wait for me until I’m done with this meditation business. From what I understand, this is pretty normal, and one of the benefits of meditating comes from letting go of these thoughts you’ve grabbed on to.

It’s the coming back to center that is so powerful.

And, for me, it’s the silence that comes next. It’s the lack of judgment about having gotten off course again. It’s resisting the urge to say “man, I am really bad at this meditating stuff!”

I have a lot of opportunities to practice not scolding myself when I meditate.

That not scolding is a form of forgiveness, and one many of us could benefit from practicing in our daily lives. It’s so easy to critique every move and decision we make, to curse the past even as we’re changing course. Rather than just say “Oh, wrong turn, time to readjust,” we have a tendency to throw in bits of “how could you be so stupid to take that turn?”

There’s no room for that in meditation.

Getting off track is as much a part of the process as getting back on is.

If I’m ever tempted to beat myself up for losing focus, it’s easy to remind myself that this is normal. Take a breath. Forgive. Take another breath. And just like that, you’re back in it again.

Without judgment. Without regret. Just coming back to center and moving on.

Have you learned something unexpected from meditating? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

  1. Nanna says:

    I think bearing oneself up had become so normal that people don’t even question it. I’ve really got to try this guided meditation because I think self-abuse is the wrist kind of abuse.
    Nanna’s most recent post: I’m Growing Up

    • Miss Britt says:

      It’s amazing to me how easily I fall back into that habit, and often don’t even realize it.

  2. fiwa says:

    What a timely post, I was just thinking along similar lines about my efforts to lose weight. I hope you don’t mind that I shared the link with some friends.

  3. Kent says:

    Me too!

    My struggle is allowing the wandering thoughts to wander WITHOUT attaching myself to them.

    Tough stuff!
    Kent’s most recent post: Finding the Chill in Hawaii and Costa Rica

    • Miss Britt says:

      Yep. If I can get to a black space, I’m good. But if anything comes wandering in, I’m ON IT.

  4. Renae says:

    “I don’t just observe my thoughts; I chase after them, try to control them, and tell them where to go to wait for me until I’m done with this meditation business.” Wow, did you ever nail it perfectly!

    This was a great essay. I felt my shoulders relaxing as I read it.
    Renae’s most recent post: Choosing wisely.

  5. Much and more. I used to do a lot of classical meditation techniques. I don’t as much anymore, but I still mind my ways into meditative sates. I go to synagogue pretty much every Shabbat and occasionally to to pray with a group of guys that I do learning with. I almost always as some point in the prayers find myself in a deep meditative state. The same thing happens to me often when I run, typically around mile 7 or 8.

    I have have had all kinds of flashes either during the meditation or immediately after, that has changed my life, solved problems, and/or added to my creativity. For example growing up I always believed in G-d but had no use for organized religion. My thought was, I can talk to G-d whenever or wherever I want, whats a building or other people got to do with it. But when we first started become more observant and going to shul more regularly, because our children where in preschool at the attached preschool. I was deep in prayer meditation, when something inside me spoke. It said, you don’t go to Shul and pray so G-d can hear you, going helps you hear G-d better.

    There also have been times I have been working on a story both adult and children’s fiction, where I was having a hard time moving to the next place or connecting the dots. Then all of a sudden I would see how to get there, sometime finding/remembering little connections and paths that had either by great chance or more likely unconscious actions, had placed earlier, that tied, connected and helped move things forward.

    Even less creative stuff. Like in the middle of a run, why an HRIS system I was building or reporting with wasn’t working the way I wanted it to.

    And on a personal level, I have come to sudden realizations about people – family/friends/coworkers that gave me such a broader understanding of them, and help our relationships.
    Corey Feldman’s most recent post: Contest for a signed paperback of your choice.

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