Today, we have the incredible opportunity to be invited to end cycles and generations of rancor and division. The great challenges in our lives invite us to learn to love without attachment. In the image of this planetary shifts that have been taking place for some time now, the forgiveness circles propose a transpersonal 3-hour ritual of transformative simplicity.
It was during a trip to Mexico that Olivier, coming to meet Miguel Ruiz, whose works he had translated into French (including the famous Four Toltec Agreements), received a forgiveness lesson that changed his life, an experience he recounts in a book published 10 years later: “there was a disruption in my mind patterns, and I started to follow the instructions I received from Don who asked me to ask for forgiveness to people I hardly knew. I began to tune into what was happening, I felt that I was apologizing to all those with whom an unfenced conflict was remaining active. The day we manage to forgive, love is reborn from its ashes with an intensity that was previously unattainable.” Convinced that forgiveness is a royal way to heal the wounds of the heart, Olivier creates a ritual of forgiveness to be experienced in the setting of groups.
In Belgium, at Wagnelée at Laurent De Vecchi and Joëlle Jadoul’s house, I joined a circle of forgiveness, supervised by Henda Ben Fredj and Yves Morue, trained in the method and certified by the API (the Association of International Forgiveness). With a soft, humane and compassionate look, Yves invites us to reflect on where we are in front of our own stories: “the word forgiveness is a hard one to swallow for some people; the connotation can sometimes be heavy, like something imposed or linked to a fault, a sin. We should forgive. We all carry in us wounds related to our past. In general, we do not take good care of them and yet the less we take care of them, the more they act in silence over our destiny. This story about what we have been going through keeps us in a victim status. Rumination becomes an emotional poison. And the identity built around these stories can become part of our business card. We do not realize it, but it impacts us first and foremost. In the circle, we are willing to do something for ourselves. “
Henda shares a part of their journey as a family: “What brought us here is the story of our son, who was suffering and who has been using drugs. We did not know how to help him. Materially, practically, we had tried everything. We did not understand that drugs were not the problem, that they were hiding his inner suffering. We thought we had an addict as our son and we created a story around that. I joined a group of parents who were in similar situations and in this group, everyone was sharing the story of their children who were addicts. Yves pointed out to me that every time I was going there, I was keeping this story alive, that our son was an addict. It was locking him in that box. After this realization, we decided to detach ourselves from this story, let it go slowly. Our son was suffering, he was not an addict. Our relationship was transformed because our vision had changed. His behaviour changed and he accepted to enter in rehab. Of course, there were relapses. We do not get rid of drugs so easily. Today, our son is driven by the desire to share his story in a book. As for me, I can talk about what we went through with serenity and detachment. By releasing the stories, we free our heart and heal it. “
Often, confusion reigns over what forgiveness really is about: forgiving does not mean forgetting or absolving the facts but rather deciding to free oneself from the resentment and rumination that stays with us on a daily basis. In front of the painful experiences of betrayal, loss or conflict, or in front of the most abject and horrific violent acts that can be experienced in a human life, forgiveness requires a lot of inner work. Paying attention to the stories we are telling ourselves about what happened is of great help. Certainly, we have been hurt. What is the attitude we are adopting about this wound? What story did we build about it? When being honest with oneself, one can sometimes realize a tendency to feel self righteous, which reinforces a victim status in which we can not find the way out. It’s a dead end. The weight of resentment is heavy to hold within us.
The logic of these circles comes from an inversed setting that produces a relaxation/confusion of the mind: asking the forgiveness from others and receiving the request for forgiveness from others. Often, one of the participants will carry a part of the energy of someone related to the life of another. Suddenly, an old and forgotten story comes back to the surface and soon after, a release follows. What happens when I listen to the heart beat of another? I realize, among other things, his inalienable humanity. Asking for forgiveness forces us to go beyond our comfort zone. It is our responsibility to walk our part of the path on our own side of history. The other remains responsible for his actions. And everyone is responsible for which stories they maintain within themselves: there lies the real inner transformational work.