Written by:

Updated on:

October 2, 2015

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Heart Meditation: Three Domains of Forgiveness, by Tara Brach:


The following meditation is led by Tara Brach, meditation teacher, psychologist, and author.


In the Buddhist teachings, the pre-requisite to really, fully waken up our hearts is the practice of forgiving, which means really to release any of our ___ to loving. The given being that each of us, when we get hurt or wounded, that tighten our ___ around our heart. We kind of armor ourselves and push away at what we sense is the cause of harm. So this kind of aversive pushing away comes from the form of hatred, anger, judgment. And most of us have some, and some of us have really if we’ve been wounded badly have very deep sense of unforgiving, of hardened armoring.


So the practice of forgiveness isn’t like a willful “Okay, I’m going to let go of the armor.” But its’ a willingness that comes out of a deep understanding that we’re not free if our hearts are armored, because not only our, we, in a kind of constant protective stance, but we really can’t let in and out love in a flowing way.


So we intend towards forgiving. That’s really what it comes down to out of some wisdom. Some deep longing to be free. It’s the intention to let down that armoring, knowing that whatever we resist persists. If we’re resisting, and pushing away at some perceived bad other, that sense of dividedness and conflict is just perpetuated.


And we also have that intuition that what we accept, we go beyond. In any moment that we open to, and say, yeah, the wounds are here. And just let that be real without pushing away, and covering it over with aversive-ness. In this moments, we enlarge. In the moments of accepting, we come larger.


One of the stories I’ve always loved about that comes from, that actually comes from a movie, that describes a ritual that happened in a part of Africa, in one tribe, in Africa, that when someone’s murdered in a family, the killers are bought down to a river and the family goes down there, and the killers’ hands are tied, and the family have to decide whether the killer is thrown into the river to drown or saved, and if they decide that the killer should be thrown and drowned as punishment, they don’t have any freedom, any healing. But instead, they decide to not to have the killer punished with killing. In other words, to let go of the vengeance, they can start on the path of healing. And this ___, this tribe, say that vengeance is a lazy form of grief. That vengeance is a lazy form of grief.


So, vengeance includes any of the ways that even from the mild judgments to the deep resentment and hatreds. When we’re in that mode, we’re not able to contact what’s under it. We’re not able to contact the longevity, and the woundedness, and the grief, that is actually the beginning of healing. So we forgive for the freedom of our own hearts. But as I mentioned, we can’t ___ it, we actually—forgiving can be done prematurely, the kind of premature transcendence when we say, “Oh yes, I have forgiven that person,” but we don’t really let ourselves open to what’s going on. So, each has a gradualness. And sometimes, if the wound is deep, we need the support of a healer, a teacher, therapist, friend, because to truly forgive means to enter the place of woundedness and open to it and feel it and find some space for it.


So we’ll do a practice today that I think is one of the most intuitively wise practices I know from the Bhuddist tradition. First is, ask for forgiveness, and then we offer to ourselves, then offer to others. And it’s one of the practices that you can’t really do too much, because wherever there’s hardening, that whatever level, wherever we’re creating separation, it’s an opportunity to soften.


___, Tibetan teacher says, that’s the whole practice, that’s the whole path—it’s to meet our edge and soften. In the places where we’re holding judgment are an edge that create a real painful separation. Not only from others, but from our own awakened heart. So, it’s in that spirit, we’ll do the practice together.




Because forgiveness practice can put us in touch with so much ___ and reactivity, it’s often we accompany with a kind of judgment, that we’re not doing it right, or we’re not doing it well. We have some idea of how it should be. So, let me invite you to begin with the intention to just kind of attitude to really approach with an openness without judging or adding something to the practice. Just some simple intention to see how much it’s possible to awaken and open your heart in these moments.


Now, I’d like to begin also with a kind of forgiveness ___ of my own body, because the more we’re embodied, the more alive and profound forgiving is. So, to just let your awareness scan through your body and first sense if there’s anything going on in your body that in some way you’re resisting or tensing against that once inclusion right now– areas of discomfort, unpresent-ness. See if you can ___ with the will, gentle kind of presence. So just this two. Soften around what’s here.


If that includes tensed muscles, because when we tense our muscle, we’re tensing against the moment. We’re resisting the life that’s here. So, forgiving on a physical level means to decondition that, uncondition that—relax and allow the moment.


That smile into your heart, sounds of space in your heart area that allows, whatever it is to be here. We will begin with the reflection of where we might have caused harm to another person, and a truth for all of us is that, at some point in our unconsciousness, and not knowing, in our habitual way of doing things, we cause harm. So, it could be intentional or unintentional.

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About the author 

Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]