We’ve all had someone who has harmed us or wronged us in someway. We all have someone we should forgive, and can’t manage to make it happen. Sometimes, that person we need to forgive is ourselves. (That’s often the most difficult one.)
Forgiveness is taught across all religious and spiritual practices. In Christianity, Jesus instructs us to forgive unconditionally. In Judaism, if one person wrongs another and sincerely apologizes, the wronged person is duty bound to forgive. In Islam, forgiveness is very important and followers pray to Allah, asking for forgiveness all hours of the day. Buddha taught the importance of a peaceful mind and forgiveness plays an important roll in that peace. (1)
However, forgiveness isn’t just looked at by the religious and spiritual among us. Science has begun to look at how forgiving, or not forgiving affects us physically and emotionally. Researchers have looked at the benefits of forgiving, as well as the consequences of not forgiving. Here’s what they found.
Throughout history, those that were able to forgive, were able to thrive and produce more offspring. In order to survive, without the strength and speed of other animals, humans had to work together. Those who were accepting of others, and willing to work together, were more apt to survive. (2)
Science has found that forgiveness has a genetic component. It is also taught and passed through example and interaction with others. (2)
Negative effects of non-forgiveness (holding onto resentment or anger) (2)
- Heart rate increases
- Muscle tension increases
- Blood pressure increases.
- Less in control
- High amounts of stress
- Higher levels of pain
- Higher levels of cortisol (stress hormone)
How does forgiveness help? (2)
Forgiveness alleviates all of the negative consequences of resentment or anger and allows us to heal. People who forgive see the following benefits:
- Lower resting blood pressure
- Easier to cope with chronic pain
- Lower incidence of depression
- Improved immune system
- Improved nervous system
- Lower rate of heart disease
Overall, when we forgive others, we are just plain healthier people, physically, mentally and emotionally. We are happier, more productive members of society, with healthier relationships.
A MOTHER FORGIVES…
I leave you with a beautiful and touching story about the power of forgiveness. Mary Johnson’s only son, Laramiun Byrd , was shot to death at a party in 1993, at the age of 20. Laramiun was killed by a 16 year old boy by the name of Oshea Israel. After serving 17 years of a 25 1/2 year sentence, Oshea is now out of prison, and lives next door to Mary. This is their story.
One thing to remember when it comes to forgiving someone.
You are doing it for yourself, not the other person.
Until next time, namaste my friends.