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Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category


Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” ~Lao Tzu

As I was listening to the reports of the tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi, I was saddened by the disregard for basic humanity and dignity. I recently wrote a blog about Tolerance and the cost of intolerance. The tragic wave of suicides among young people who have been targeted because of their sexuality has prompted many news stories. This offers all of us an opportunity to reach out to young people as well as look more deeply at our “us vs. them” mentality.

In his book, Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind, David Berreby explains why people are wedded to the notion that they belong to differing tribe-like categories. David Berreby describes how each person creates his own mind map, identifies others with similar mind maps and ostracizes all those who are different. Based in solid scientific research, David Berreby exposes new discoveries about the mind and brain. It’s a book about looking at “human-kind” thinking.

What is your “human-kind thinking?”

Mary Anne

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How Do You Show Yourself Compassion?

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

While giving my forgiveness telecourse, I read a quote by Pema Chodron:

“It all starts with loving-kindness for oneself, which in turn becomes loving-kindness for others. As the barriers come down around our own hearts, we are less afraid of other people. We are more able to hear what is being said, see what is front of our eyes, and work in accord with what happens rather than struggle against it.”

The forgiveness course is about making space for more love, peace and forgiveness in our hearts and in our lives. Each week has a specific focus and last week our focus was compassion. I shared with students my definition of compassion:

Compassion is our capacity to love – without the story attached to it. It’s the acts of doing and the heart of being. It’s being our own best friend & having the capacity to befriend others.

I ask students in the course to share how they show themselves loving-kindness and compassion. We take time to reflect and write down a few ways we are compassionate with ourselves. In every course, many students struggle to name ways of how they treat themselves with loving-kindness and compassion. It reminds me of how hard we are on ourselves and that giving comes from our capacity to give to ourselves too. Compassion is our ability to find relief and lead with our hearts.

The invitation is to practice compassion with yourself. Notice ways you show yourself loving-kindness. Ask how does loving-kindness and compassion show up in my life and HOW do I respond when it does?

As the Dalai Lama says, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Mary Anne

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Second Chances

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

As I was finishing up at the dentist office, I was speaking with my hygienist about some of the work I do with mentoring. I ended one of my sentences with, “Everyone deserves second chances.” At that very moment my dentist walked in and said, “You think everyone deserves second chances?” I told him I thought most everyone deserved a second chance. With that, my dentist went off with a litany of people he thought should never have a second chance. I noticed that I was getting annoyed, so I quietly responded, “I think many of us make mistakes, take the consequences, and deserve another chance.” His response was, “You know what we call a liberal? Someone who has never been mugged.” He concluded by telling me that most people don’t deserve second chances.

I left the office and started thinking about all the mistakes I have made and how so many people have given me a second chance. How long must we pay for a mistake we have made in the past?

Later that evening, I thought about how quickly our mind can go to labeling people and ideas, and about second chances. Do I really believe in second chances?

The universe must have heard my question because in the Sunday New York Times there was an article on parole. The article was about a woman who had committed a crime at 18 and paid for her mistake by serving time until age 41.

As she said in the article, “I still have those dreams of not being able to leave prison, like I’m still in there trying to get out. Why am I still struggling to get out?”

I realized that our minds can be more of a prison than sitting in a room with bars on the window. In what ways are we in prison with our thoughts, beliefs, and actions?

Yes, mistakes will be made and we must accept consequences of our choices. And, yes, I do believe in second chances.

Mary Anne

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Venia – Grace & Forgiveness

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

I came across the Latin word for forgiveness — “venia.” The direct translation means grace. I experience the gift of grace every week in my work with children who have an incarcerated parent. They write letters of forgiveness to their parents and are able to acknowledge their pain. In his work with prisoners Buddhist teacher Noah Levine writes, “Some actions may not be forgivable, but all actors are.” He goes on to say, “For this actor, the person whose own suffering has spilled onto other people, there is always the possibility of compassion.”

How does my pain spill onto others? My experience of looking at my past or current pain has led me to deepen my meditation practice — to go within and ask how my current actions are showing up based on past suffering. By sitting in stillness, I have become present to my own thoughts and can separate people from their past actions and this has made space for greater understanding and love.

Eckhart Tolle says, “You can acknowledge and learn from mistakes you made, and then move on and refocus on the now. It is called forgiving yourself.” By paying attention to the present moment, we allow ourselves the opportunity to release guilt, regret, grievances, and anger. As Tolle says, “Forgiveness happens naturally as soon as you realize that the past cannot prevail against the power of Presence.”

All forgiveness starts inside — by becoming still, by noticing your breath, by expressing gratitude — we expand deeper into our own hearts. By experiencing the present moment, we can release the past and step into the future with greater joy.

How has the pain of others spilled into your heart? What pain in your life is playing out with actions you are taking? If you would like to experience making space for more understanding and peace, please join me starting May 12 for Resting in Radical Forgiveness 4-Week Telecourse. All you need is your phone, pen & paper, and an open heart.

Mary Anne

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