Monday, January 14, 2008

A Word about Forgiveness

When things aren't going your way--when a prospective client strings you along only to turn down your marketing efforts, when the computer breaks, when your kids are driving you nuts, when your deadline is approaching and a subcontractor flakes--that's the time when it can feel hardest to practice nongrasping or detachment.

But will you be surprised to hear that that's the time it can benefit you the most?

We cling so hard sometimes to our resentments--hoping that by sheer force of energy those by whom we feel wronged will get a flat tire or develop a dental emergency. But usually all that does is cause our own suffering and keep us from focusing on our 1 percent.

So instead, try something counter intuitive. Forgive them.

I know they're wrong and they should burn in the fiery pits. Forgive them anyway. I know they deserve a voodoo doll full of long, dull and painful pins.

Still forgive them.

Need help? Consider practicing metta, or loving-kindness.

Here's how it works: In the simplest sense, it's wishing good things for those you'd most like to see file bankruptcy (or perhaps just get a really nasty hangnail).

In the traditional Buddhist sense, it's a specific type of meditation in which you pray for specific things for the person you resent. The way I was taught it was to pray the following:

May you be free of pain.
May your body know peace.
May you be filled with loving-kindness.

I think there's a line or two in there I've forgotten since my first yoga teacher introduced me to it years ago.

So here's a more complete loving-kindness prayer, courtesy of YouTube:

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