I recently reconnected with an old friend I have not spoken to in over 10 years. When I accepted her friend request on Facebook, I almost immediately got a message. The message was an apology for something that happened during our friendship.
I had a vague recollection of something near the end of our friendship that did not sit right with me, but mostly when I saw this person pop up in my world I was happy to hear from her. I shared this with her, as well as thanking her for reaching out and accepting her apology.
This interaction inspired me to reach out to someone I hurt, make amends and ask for forgiveness for what I did many years ago. During my year of lovingkindness practice I faced things that I had done in the past that I was sorry for. During this internal process, I worked on forgiving myself for the wrongs I have consciously or unconsciously done to others. It was not until I received this message of amends that I reached out to the people I hurt in the past to ask for their forgiveness.
My first practice of writing to a person in my past was both liberating and vulnerable, and my hope is that it leads to more connection. Through my lovingkindness practice I have learned to forgive myself for mistakes I have made, but the step of stating them to another person, taking responsibility and asking for forgiveness feels like a whole new level of lovingkindness. I have taught about compassion being a fierce practice. I discovered that asking for forgiveness and taking responsibility in a loving and sweet way shows how fierce the practice can be.
I do not know if I would have reached out to this person if I had not worked on forgiving myself, just like I do not know if I can truly be compassionate towards someone else if I cannot be compassionate to myself. So these practices, compassion and forgiveness, start right here with us, and they can start in easy ways like forgiving ourselves for oversleeping or forgetting to meditate or eating more ice cream than we intended. When we can forgive ourselves and have compassion for the mistakes and follies we
have done, and will do in the future, it is easier to ask for forgiveness when we make mistakes with the other people in our lives.