The quality for the third day of the Shannon Plummer and Bob Sima 5-day “Music as Spiritual Practice” journey is Forgiveness, and I have to admit that I had a little more difficulty with this theme than those for Day 1 and Day 2. But I guess I probably wasn’t alone, because they had more activities prepared for this morning than in the previous ones.
This one featured a TED talk by a wonderful Northern Irish man who had been blinded as a child in his school’s playground by a rubber bullet fired by a British soldier. However, he forgave the man and embraced life and has accomplished all sorts of things he knows he could never had done if he had held onto his anger, resentment, grievance, and victimhood.
He was, indeed, a wonderful example of forgiveness. For me, though, it kind of made me feel small and petty instead of inspired. The thing I was trying to forgive with SO minor–just a slight, really–compared with such a life-altering occurrence that it made me feel bad that I was holding onto any energy about it at all.
Next we had an exercise with a Hawaiian Forgiveness Prayer called Ho’oponopono. I have used that prayer before with excellent results, but in this case, it just wasn’t working for me. I knew I was saying the words of asking for forgiveness, but I wasn’t feeling them in my heart.
So I had to supplement Bob and Shannon’s ideas with another of my go-to resources: the spiritual practice developed by Byron Katie known as “The Work.” On her website, she describes her technique in the this way:
A Simple Yet Powerful Practice
As we do The Work of Byron Katie, not only do we remain alert to our stressful thoughts—the ones that cause all the anger, sadness, and frustration in our world—but we question them, and through that questioning the thoughts lose their power over us. Great spiritual texts describe the what—what it means to be free. The Work is the how. It shows you exactly how to identify and question any thought that would keep you from that freedom.
I’ve read or learned about this approach for years, but I’m not an expert. Fortunately, I have a good friend who is extremely well trained and well skilled in inquiry investigation and healing. It happens that she gave a session on this a few weeks ago, so it was fresh in my mind. I pulled out the worksheets and worked my way through questions that were designed to draw my attention away from the other and back to myself.
Eventually, by examining my thoughts and assumptions, I could see how I was actually projecting my own wounds and feelings of unworthiness onto the other person that I was having difficulty forgiving for having “hurt” me. This is such a great technique to uncover the truth that other people just do what they do; it is what it is we think or believe or feel that is hurting us, not anyone else.
After having worked through all that, I could repeat the Ho’oponopono prayer and really feel it. I now wanted to ask forgiveness for having cast my issues upon the other person.
So it took a little work. But I do feel a lightness around this relationship that has been missing for a while.