This time of the year people are supposed to let grudges go. Get into the holiday spirit. Forgive and forget, isn’t that what we’re told?

Every time I experience how amazing it feels to forgive, I’m always left wondering why it’s so hard for us to do when it feels so good? To be fair, maybe this isn’t hard for everyone, but I find the hardest person to forgive is myself. Though through practice I discovered that even this was possible.

Some years ago I took a four-week art therapy workshop at Callanish on “Loving Kindness and Forgiveness” and experienced the sensation of forgiveness. Each session started with a check-in where we shared what was going on with us that week. This was followed by a guided meditation-relaxation session focused on loving kindness with forgiveness added in. After meditating, we went into the art room where we were free to choose any available materials to create whatever we wanted.

One particular session, it seemed as though everyone’s energy was synchronized in a peaceful, calm way. The session started with some heartbreaking news of a recurrence from one of the participants. Something about her story touched me deeply leaving me open to forgive everyone, but especially myself. For big things. And small things. A heaviness I had gotten used to carrying was replaced by giddiness, followed by a wave of tranquility and calm.

It happened seamlessly in a single instant during the meditation. I forgave myself and released bad feelings I had about a lot of things. Resentments, anger, hurt… all dissipated to be replaced by something nicer and space. That day in the art room, I can still recall the synthesis of our respective creativity. One woman’s knitting needles clacked together rhythmically. To my right I could hear the sound of shears cutting through fabric as one woman created a string of flags to spell out the word, “gentle.” It was her own personal reminder to be that way with herself more often. The scratchy swiping of my brushes against the wooden boxes I was painting added to the mix. 

I’m big on forgiving, but I don’t always like to forget. This doesn’t mean I hold grudges, but it does mean I try to remember the lessons learned. And try to forgive as often as possible. It feels good.

Running stream at Wulaia Bay.

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