We are in a kind of love-hate relationship with our own feelings and thoughts. Sometimes we chase them, sometimes we run from them. When we try to meditate, we sometimes find that our minds wander, which somehow makes us feel like a failure, we start beating ourselves up mentally! We may even start to hate our thoughts, wanting to destroy them, draw a gun and shoot, which leads us to sit in tension. The more we meditate with this attitude, the more stressed we become.
True forgiveness can be developed by learning to accept what is happening in the mind. This is a very deep form of unconditional love, and it is also the key to forgiving ourselves and others. All we have to do in meditation is to realize that our mind is wandering and then return our attention to our breath. Continuing our practice in this way makes us stronger. Our thoughts are not our enemies, they even aid meditation, so we can create a destination from those thoughts and learn to stay there.
This attitude, which includes a non-judgmental acceptance of our feelings and thoughts, resolves our inner conflict in our minds and lays the foundation for the development of forgiveness. If we can forgive our thoughts, we can forgive ourselves and even our enemies.
Many people struggle with self-loathing habits. We may have a hard time forgiving ourselves, perhaps feeling a general disgust at certain things we’ve done or our own shortcomings.
There are elements in modern culture that strongly encourage this problem. We are constantly fueled by messages that tell us that we are not going to be okay, we should strive to be better, look, feel better, and have more. Advertising plays on our desires as well as on our insecurities. We live in a culture of distrust, where everybody judges everybody.
Our striving for perfection and constant exposure to so-called images of perfection can make us feel pretty bad about ourselves. So when we make a mistake or realize our own shortcomings, it can be considered normal to revert to our self-loathing habit. We have internalized these judgments around us.
Some people are tormented by guilt and self-hatred. I used to have a persistent, self-deprecating internal monologue voice and self-destructive behavior patterns. I would find my own job very difficult, even unpleasant. When people seemed to like me, I assumed there was a problem because I would feel very unpleasant.
This has led me to many destructive relationships and situations. When I became a monk and went into my first nine-month retreat, that harsh inner voice that told me I was useless, even bad, intensified, and I often held my head with my hands and begged him to stop.
Now I understand that this is due to a great deal of tension. When we are stressed, our core habits come to the surface even more. I was meditating pretty hard, sometimes doing seven hour sessions and not stopping until I felt I was doing ‘well enough’. Those were tense and miserable times.
Things changed when, in a longer seclusion of four years, I learned how to show compassion for those darker parts of me. I had an agonizing feeling, as if a knife had been stabbed in my heart. Everything changed when I began to approach this feeling itself with love and kindness. The benefit for me has been that I’m starting to find it much easier to forgive myself now. I’m not tough on myself anymore, I’m actually quite kind. Sometimes this can turn into a bit of laziness but overall it helps me to be a much happier person.
When we recognize our mistakes and negativity, we can accept it calmly and do it without guilt. After all, it will do us good to remember that deep down we are happy, good, and pure. Our negativity is simply like a layer of dust, it can be cleared with meditation practices.
2- Be grateful
Being grateful means being grateful, appreciating that we have found something in ourselves to work on, which gives us an opportunity to move forward. When we realize that our problems actually offer us opportunities to be more resilient, our attitude towards them can turn into gratitude.
Understanding means seeing our shortcomings as part of our human nature. There’s nothing wrong with us, it’s just that our minds are not yet trained. So of course we can make mistakes. If we can see ourselves as ‘work in progress’, this will enable us to forgive ourselves.
These three steps should be combined with regular meditation practice so that we stop beating ourselves mentally. It will also help to remember that everything changes, nothing is fixed, stable or unchanging. These problems, which we may be dwelling on right now, will one day turn into memories.
This article has been translated into Turkish from the article of the Buddhist monk Gelong Thubten.
Gelong Thubten ”A Monk’s Favorite 3-Step Practice For Cultivating Self-Compassion” (August 13, 2020) Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-forgive-yourself-with-monks- practical-3-step-exercise