“Forgiveness and the Holidays” this is the original workshop material from 2014. It includes meditations, exercises, downloadable PDF, and helpful information.
Are the holidays a challenging time of the year for you?
Are you unsure of what to do with the conflicting emotions and the emptiness you feel inside this time of year?
Are you tired of the commercialism of Christmas?
Do you want to learn how to be compassionate toward yourself?
Are you looking for ways to set good boundaries on your time, energy and resources?
Healing is possible, all it takes is a little willingness.
This FREE workshop is divided into four sections.
3. More Forgiveness
There are two meditation audios. One has a video companion.
Audio of the following material-
For most of us, this time of year can be a time of joining with family, celebrating, traveling for visits, and just being with those you know and love. Unfortunately, some of us do not experience it as such. A time with relatives can bring up the old pain, the hurts, resentments, anger and blame. We can find ourselves caught up in arguments and judgments originating from situations that occurred many years before. WE may feel disillusioned at this time of year as our mind that was peaceful and happy has now erupted into a mind full of fear, frustration and disgust.
If this sounds like you, then it is time to take steps into changing your mind. Remember we cannot change anyone’s behavior, including our own. We can only change our mind. That is what Jesus reminds us in A Course in Miracles.
I have said that you cannot change your mind by changing your behavior, but I have also said, and many times, that you [can] change your mind. When your mood tells you that you have chosen wrongly, and this is so whenever you are not joyous, then [know this need not be.] T-4.IV.2:1-2
We can gain a new perception of our family with the change of mind, otherwise called a “miracle” or simply “forgiveness.”
As Lesson 121 tells us, “Forgiveness is the key to happiness.”
Why does Jesus tell us that forgiveness is the key to happiness? Well, check in with how you feel now about your life and the upcoming holidays? You most likely are not happy or you would not be reading this now.
The unforgiving mind is the mind that is afraid of everything, panicky and anxious at every turn. What will Uncle Don do this year? I don’t want to be near him, he gives me the “creeps”, or, I really don’t want to see Cousin Mae because of how much she drinks and seems to spoil the party for everyone. You may be grieving a loved one who has passed on or you may be without a spouse or mate or the relationship you do have is quite rocky. The holidays amplifies all of this since we are bombarded with media telling us that it is “the most wonderful time of the year” and we are feeling anything but “wonderful”. All this is unforgiveness.
From our unforgiving mind we see everything as an irreparable sin such as the belief that such damage has been done that it could never be repaired. Because we look on this with no hope, we feel hopeless and we feel alone. We want an escape from the pain and perhaps some of us revert to our own addictions of too much food, alcohol or shopping. All this used to mask the pain of what we are feeling in the here and now because we are avoiding it.
Yet, Jesus calls us not to avoid the pain. We have buried it so deeply within our mind and we are seemingly so afraid of it. What we are afraid of is what we could have instead of the pain. As author and presenter Byron Katie says, “Who would you be without that thought?” That thought is the thought of pain that you have been holding onto. That thought of pain were it gone would bring you such peace. Nothing here in this world could or would ever bring you peace of mind.
Forgiveness, you see, is freedom. You have tied yourself up in chains, locked it with padlocks and seemingly thrown away the key. But the key is here. It is there within you. Are you ready for freedom? We will use material from ACIM and also some exercises that I have found helpful over the years in my own journey as we go through this journey of “Forgiveness and the Holidays.”
Sit down in a quiet place with a notebook or journal. This process will take about 10-15 minutes.
Think of one person among your family or relatives with whom you have the most problems with. This would be someone that you resent or hold judgments against. Write their name at the top of the page. This next part asks for your willingness. If you are not sure if you can be willing, then pray to be willing to be willing. Now look at this person with the Holy Spirit beside you. Allow Him to help you to see the spark of light within this chosen person. Allow Holy Spirit to help you make a list of all the things that you actually like or enjoy about this person. Perhaps something you appreciate about this person. What are their good qualities that you normally overlook or minimize due to your negative perceptions?
Reference in ACIM: Lesson 121 – Forgiveness is the key to happiness.
Include good experiences that you may have had in the past, a loving time, a fun time or even a caring time.
Look at some other ways that this person has benefited your spiritual growth, that is, some wisdom you received or life lessons.
Once you complete your list, go back through it, asking Holy Spirit to be with you as you do so. Consciously give thanks and feel gratitude for the good in them and the ways in which they have assisted you on your path of spiritual growth.
Once you do this, you will find it easier to release the judgments and feelings to the Holy Spirit in forgiveness. You now allow Him to assist you the rest of the way.
Hopefully with this exercise you felt a sense of lifting upwards and out of the unforgiveness, if even a tiny bit. The more we are willing to release the judgments and unforgivness, the better we will in fact feel.
An important note I will make here is above all, love yourself. That is, be kind to yourself, be gentle with yourself and be compassionate with yourself. At this time of year we may feel the unraveling occurring because we have overcommitted or our unforgiveness anxiety is high. Give yourself permission to experience self-nurturing: a long bath, a walk in the snow, a time to meditate and pray, or a time to be pampered.
It can seem hard at this time of year, even with the first exercise to forgive those most difficult people. Be it addicted relatives, your children or anyone that seems to get the best of you. What you have forgotten is that it is healthy and certainly permissible by ACIM standards to set boundaries. Sometimes people think that being on the spiritual path means I have to let everyone walk all over me in a feeble attempt to practice “forgiveness and love”. Love doesn’t mean allowing yourself to be hurt or to sacrifice yourself in any way.
The next piece we will look at is “Setting Boundaries.”
As I have already discussed this time of year can bring joy but also a lot of anxiety for many people. There might even be a dread to the whole holiday season and the wish for it to be over quickly and as painless as possible. Healthy boundaries assist us in making the time less painless and hopefully more joyful.
With ACIM in mind, it does not matter as much what we do in form. It is what is in our mind while we are doing it. If I smile at Aunt Suzie even though I dislike her terribly and I dread going to her home, then why go? Out of obligation to your parent? Certainly forgiveness work is needed for the mind, yet, you can still do that forgiveness work and choose to have a preference not to visit Aunt Suzie this year if it brings you terrible anxiety. All too often we rush around and do everything that we think that is expected of us instead of what will truly make us happy and doing those things that align with our own values.
And you have permission to do so!
Let’s start with setting boundaries with yourself.
Certainly this time of year is where you need to especially enforce boundaries particularly around the idea of self-control. This can be from overspending to overeating.
Take time to write down in your journal or notebook a plan for how much you will spend, how many calories you will eat a day, how many holiday parties you will attend, things you will do to nurture yourself throughout the holiday season. Let this be a priority for you. Stop and write this down now.
Follow through with the plan. Remind yourself of your plan as you start each day. Review it a few times a day if you need to do so as the busy days draw nearer. If you make a mistake, realize that you are still new at learning how to set appropriate boundaries for self-control and forgive yourself.
What stops us from setting boundaries is: Guilt, Obligation, Tradition and People-pleasing. When we continue to tolerate behavior in ourselves or someone else that is unacceptable to us, we have to realize that we are making a conscious decision to do so. And, we can always decide otherwise. It is okay to make the choice to set boundaries.
How can we do this?
First, acknowledge how you feel without any judgment. You feel what you feel. Don’t deny it. If you cannot put a word to exactly how you feel, just sit with it. Ask Holy Spirit to be with you through it. It is important not to shove aside and pretend you are at peace when you are not.
Secondly, we create a plan. We did so in the last exercise. That plan was for creating some boundaries for ourselves. This plan can consist of relational matters, emotional, spiritual, time-oriented, financial, and understanding. Some of which we touched on in the exercise. You can elaborate a little further for yourself with time you will spent in practicing the ACIM Lessons for example and time spent doing fun activities with your children.
In all, it is deciding where your values are. Do you really enjoy running around to all the relatives each holiday? Or would you rather offer your home as the gathering place? What about relaxing at home with your immediate family on the holiday and saving the visitations for the day after. You do have a choice in this. If you feel you don’t, it is because you are telling yourself that you do not.
Setting Boundaries with Children and Family Members
Boundaries of children need to be age-appropriate. Whether they are young or adult, let them know what you will do or not do. Younger children need to know what to expect and what you will expect, and adult children need to know what you will or won’t do such as babysit, lend money, etc. This goes for any family member as well. Grandparents too need to know where we stand.
Setting Boundaries with Addicted People
Holidays can be stressful when someone you love is addicted to alcohol. You have a right to set boundaries in this area. For example, tell them no alcohol will be served and not to bring alcohol with them. If you visit a relative with a drinking problem, you can notify them that you and your family will leave if their drinking gets out of control.
Setting boundaries is loving and caring not only for you but for others. You stop resentments from occurring by knowing exactly where you stand. Obviously in all of it, you will have to watch your mind for judgments and resentments, anger and frustrations which you will acknowledge and work with the Holy Spirit to release them. You do not have to stay in a situation that is frightening or dangerous to you.
Do not be afraid to enforce your boundaries. Be prepared to do what you need to do so less harm is done.
In all of this, lower your expectations. It’s easy to over anticipate, to hope that everything will be perfect just because it is the holiday season. Very few people have a Norman Rockwell family holiday. So be realistic in what to expect.
Back to Honoring Yourself
If you equate setting strong boundaries with selfishness, it may be hard for you to take good care of yourself. Setting healthy boundaries doesn’t give you permission to be unkind or to devalue the needs of others. It’s about being self-respectful, honoring your desires and confidently conveying what you want.
Here are four tips for authentic holiday cheer and improved self-confidence:
Say “yes” when you really mean yes.
Say “no” when you really mean no.
Say, “I’m not sure about that – but I’ll get back to you,” when you’re undecided.
Say “I apologize if this is disruptive for you, but after thinking about__________ I realize that that doesn’t really work for me, so I won’t be able to________ ” if you’ve changed your mind about something (which you have the right to do!).
Let’s get back to more ideas on forgiveness. To experience the gifts that forgiveness brings it is to practice it often. Just like building a muscle. It gets flabby if you do not do the work. The same with forgiveness. We can always tell by the mood that we are in. And Jesus tells us that in ACIM. If you are not at peace, or feeling joyful, well then, you are in an unforgiving frame of mind.
Throughout A Course in Miracles we see many instructions and lessons on how to forgive. The key point being we do not do it on our own. The Holy Spirit is the helper in this case. All we need is the willingness to see our family member differently and the Holy Spirit will help us to do so. By making that simple statement, “I am willing to see so-and-so differently” you have given Him all that He needs to bring the miracle to you.
The miracle is the change in perception. By seeing that person no longer in a negative light but in their true light, the light of the Love of God. God sees us all as perfect in His sight. He does not forget who we are or who are family members or friends are. It is we that have forgotten. Certainly as we talked about boundaries in the last section, we do not have to put ourselves in uncomfortable or unsafe situations. We can still have the willingness to forgive, to join with Holy Spirit but by maintaining a safe distance until we are guided otherwise.
Our minds are so powerful and we hardly give them the credit. God created us with the power. We have the choice and we have everything that we need. Now it is following through on the choice.
Choose a forgiveness goal – anyone (including yourself) in your life you’d like to forgive Sit comfortably with eyes closed
This is guaranteed to work IF you truly believe what you intend to achieve. If you believe your intention statement…that you do WANT to forgive this person, you will; fantasize forgiving until it becomes a reality. You’ll know when it does; you’ll feel the weight disappear.
Speak out loud a statement of intention about this forgiveness goal (example: I’d like to forgive my friend for forgetting our date and never showing up)
Imagine the results you seek…what would you like to have happen internally and with your relationship as a result of forgiving this person? (The key here is to IMAGINE without fear, limitation, doubt or anxiety…if there is no possibility of failure, what are the best results you can imagine after forgiving this person?)
Now imagine the process and steps you would take to get to those results…see every detail specifically and clearly. Focus on the actions you would take and fill in all the blanks. You are the director, the editor and the actor in the theater of your mind. Imagine how you would make the decision to forgive; how it would feel; what you would do with the memory of the pain caused by the violation of the friendship; will you let this person know they are forgiven…did they even know you were upset? Imagine all the steps you would take as well as the conversation that would take place, if you decide to discuss.
Stay with this imagination session for at least 5 minutes, the first time
Repeat this exercise, reviewing the same scene, adding time, getting more and more specific every day for or as many days as you’d like to get to a certain place of ease.
This imagination process helps us if we are not quite sure of our connection with Holy Spirit. As indicated, you are giving willingness to see the situation differently.
In Lesson 122, Jesus asks us point blank, “Do you want peace? Do you want happiness, a quiet mind, a certainty of purpose, and a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world? Do you want care and safety, and the warmth of sure protection always? Do you want a quietness that cannot be disturbed, a gentleness that never can be hurt, a deep abiding comfort, and a rest so perfect that it can never be upset?”
Forgiveness offers all of this to us. There is no other answer because it is the one and only answer.
I cannot make forgiveness real for you by talking about it here. All the talk in the world will not bring forgiveness to you. All the inspiration you may receive from this will not bring it for you. It may guide you to step up your practicing forgiveness a notch, but you can only activate it by practicing it. That is what the exercises are for. Lessons 121 and 122 in the Workbook for Students are very beneficial lessons to practice to experience results. Another excellent lesson for releasing our grievances against another person is Lesson 78 – Let miracles replace all grievances. In this lesson, you observe in your mind that person that seems to bring you pain. You see them as they are now, reviewing the faults and difficulties, then you join with the Holy Spirit who sees this person as their True Self and sees you as your True Self. By this joining you declare to yourself that you desire to see this person as your savior. The person whom you have held the unforgiveness for so long will now assist you out of the hell you have been in. The other person has not put you in hell but you have by your own choice. This does not minimize what has occurred, especially in cases of abuse and neglect. It just says that no longer will you be the victim of your thoughts of pain. You can now rise above and allow this situation to heal. And in this, you will find peace. I recommend to you for your next exercise to practice Lesson 122.
From Lesson 122 – Let miracles replace all grievances.
Let him be savior unto you today. 6 Such is his role in God your Father’s plan.
W-78.6. Our longer practice periods today will see him in this role. 2 You will attempt to hold him in your mind, first as you now consider him. 3 You will review his faults, the difficulties you have had with him, the pain he caused you, his neglect, and all the little and the larger hurts he gave. 4 You will regard his body with its flaws and better points as well, and you will think of his mistakes and even of his “sins.”
W-78.7. Then let us ask of Him Who knows this Son of God in his reality and truth, that we may look on him a different way, and see our savior shining in the light of true forgiveness, given unto us. 2 We ask Him in the holy Name of God and of His Son, as holy as Himself:
3 Let me behold my savior in this one You have appointed as the one for me to ask to lead me to the holy light in which he stands, that I may join with him.
4 The body’s eyes are closed, and as you think of him who grieved you, let your mind be shown the light in him beyond your grievances.
W-78.8. What you have asked for cannot be denied. 2 Your savior has been waiting long for this. 3 He would be free, and make his freedom yours. 4 The Holy Spirit leans from him to you, seeing no separation in God’s Son. 5 And what you see through Him will free you both. 6 Be very quiet now, and look upon your shining savior. 7 No dark grievances obscure the sight of him. 8 You have allowed the Holy Spirit to express through him the role God gave Him that you might be saved.
W-78.9. God thanks you for these quiet times today in which you laid your images aside, and looked upon the miracle of love the Holy Spirit showed you in their place. 2 The world and Heaven join in thanking you, for not one Thought of God but must rejoice as you are saved, and all the world with you.
W-78.10. We will remember this throughout the day, and take the role assigned to us as part of God’s salvation plan, and not our own. 2 Temptation falls away when we allow each one we meet to save us, and refuse to hide his light behind our grievances. 3 To everyone you meet, and to the ones you think of or remember from the past, allow the role of savior to be given, that you may share it with him. 4 For you both, and all the sightless ones as well, we pray:
5 Let miracles replace all grievances.
Lesson 78 Meditation –
Allow peace to take the place of pain. Throughout the holiday season be sure to devote and dedicate time to silence. Write this in your plan. Before you do anything start off the day with at least five minutes of peace. Certainly more will benefit you but even five minutes can make a huge difference in your day. End the day the same way as well. Use it as a time for gratitude and love for the day that has gone by.
Every breath can bring peace to you. When our energy is scrambled, panicked and tension-filled of course we will be unforgiving, judgmental and hold many grievances against others. Yet, when we practice peace consistently we find a different way to walk through the world. Most definitely the Workbook Lessons in ACIM assist us with doing as such. They are powerful and highly recommended to help bring a change of mind, a melting of the ego thoughts and the embracing of love, light and joy. If you have not ventured on that path, know that we here at MiraclesOne can assist you on your journey through the Workbook for Students.
I have a Forgiveness Meditation to end our time together.
Video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEDZzeqB6Rc
Download the Forgiveness Meditation Class Audio
There is a high, holy consciousness that loves you very much. It has been gracing you with gifts of love and forgiveness since your “beginning” and continues to do so now. This loving presence has given you the present of life. This consciousness protects and nourishes you and causes you to thrive. As it gave you the energy to act and interact for your well-being. This is a gift of love that ignores all your “sins”, mistakes, and shortcomings. With every inhale, It continues to replenish you with life-giving energy. If this highest energy demonstrates its loving forgiveness with every breath, it is a travesty for us to not be forgiving of our and others actions
Sit in a comfortable, quiet place, relax your body, close your eyes and simply be aware of your breath going in and out. With every inhale, visualize yourself being filled with loving, forgiving energy. Inhale slowly and deeply and see yourself as being cleansed. Hold the breath as long as is comfortable and send the energy to every cell in your body, from your toes to your scalp. Slowly and deeply, exhale while visualizing every physical, mental, and emotional impurity leaving your body. With every forgiving and cleansing inhalation, retention, and exhalation, see yourself as becoming pure, glowing, whole and holy.
When you see yourself as pure, visualize someone who need your forgiveness and send your compassionate, loving forgiveness to them. Pray for them to attain an awareness of their action and a gaining of understanding of the suffering they have caused. Forgive them in your heart and never carry this with you ever after.
In your mind’s eye, see someone you’ve caused to suffer and send them your healing, loving energy. Pray that they realize they are receiving loving energy with every inhalation and that they grow spiritually to where they forgive you and all others who have harmed them. Pray that they learned from the suffering you caused them and thereby gained strength from your interactions. And forever after, be free from guilt about your transgression. You knew not what you were doing and now would never do wrong again. Just as the highest power in the universe forgives you with every breath, forgive yourself.
With every breath, be forgiven and give forgiveness. Do this meditation every moment you can and gain eternal loving forgiveness.
As I said earlier, Lesson 121 is also a beautiful imagery lesson that you can do to practice forgiveness as you experience the light of truth within your brother and imagine that light be transferred between they and you in a brilliant circle of light.
I thank you for joining with me on this journey to forgiveness as we approach the holiday season. Feel free to contact me to share your experiences or to ask questions. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
MiraclesOne is a Center for Practical Application of A Course in Miracles. We offer many programs and services, classes, audio and video teachings, Healing Circle meditations, and much more for you to use in your study and practice. We are also available to work one on one with you to support you in the study of the Workbook for Students and the Text. It is in the joining of others in the peace of God that we will know continued healing and the Oneness that we share. Your donations help to support our all-volunteer ministry. Thank you in advance.
May miracles continue to fill your day as you practice forgiveness.
In Peace and Love,
Rev. Deb Phelps, Senior Minister
Originally posted December 13, 2014