Last week I asked my students to revisit a meditation to practice forgiveness with a worthy opponent. Simply speaking, a worthy opponent is someone who is a mirror for one’s shadow. Since I do the exercises along with my students I chose to have a conversation with my mother. My mother has definitively been in worthwhile opposition to my being. I may thank her for embodying traits and beliefs that I did not want to resurrect in my lifetime.
There are many instances where she tried to steal my power. Without recrimination, in this meditation, I chose to face her and let her know that I forgave her. She is sad now, alone, and is losing her mind. Her intense self-importance tethers her to the present. I feel her mortality and mine.
Concurrently, I received my Sun Magazine subscription with an interview with Katy Butler. She wrote, Knocking On Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death. The interview and excerpt from her book reinforced my attitude about my own death. I want to be able to discuss it freely with my loved ones. I take every opportunity to do so because I want my family to be clear about my choices to have a dignified death. I don’t want any last minute medical interventions which may force undue burdens because of grief. Butler shares her experiences with her parents’ deaths. I have mine with my father-in-law. I especially liked her description of the 5 things that you should strive to say during the transition to death: Thank you, I love you, please forgive me, I forgive you, and goodbye.
My husband has asked me if I am frightened that I may end up like my mother and I have to chuckle. I have no fear. I have constructed a life in defiance to hers. I do want my death to be the way I want it to be. As a gift to me my husband spent a huge amount of time researching the laws about “Advance Directives”. I have my advance directive sitting on the kitchen table now. It makes me happy. All Paths Are One.
Having given my workshop participants a personal ceremony to practice forgiveness, I began to read some other cultural perspectives based in eastern and western psychology and neuro-linguistic programming.
What is fascinating is that researchers notice that once we humans get to our deepest feelings of hurt, we would rather dwell and wallow there than leave it behind and move forward. Perhaps this is true because we are more frightened of our true power.
If we allow it, the process to get in touch with the wounds, forgive and move forward may happen very quickly. Our healing (and some say, on a cellular level), is a by-product of renewal.
I notice with myself that I tend to want to go back and dig up what I have planted. I want to check in with my feelings or go back to the past. Ultimately, I think this is counterproductive. After all, we don’t go and dig up seeds we’ve planted. We do what is required for the FUTURE well being of the seeds. We tend them with nourishment. So too, with our bodies, minds and spirit. In our present, we tend them with the nourishment that their future selves require. When we have finished with the past, we let it go.
One word I have heard used to describe this is “Surrender”.