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If You Can’t Forgive, You Can’t Dance

If we do not forgive it is like carrying heavy baggage that weighs us down so we cannot go forward, but we cannot go without it as it contains our history, our identity. Or it is like holding on to hot coals but we are the ones getting burned. Letting go of the past, of the story and the details, enables us to open to the present, to who we are now. We do not need to live in the drama, to keep the story alive, to maintain suffering. We can come back to sanity and goodness and bring that sanity into our lives.

As spiritual teacher Gangaji says in our book, Be The Change: “We have all experienced being hurt by someone, such as our parents, lover, or friend. But it is not about denying the hurt; it’s actually about opening and meeting the hurt, and then the hurt itself becomes a deepening of our heart. In that moment, it is natural for forgiveness to occur.”

Sitting in meditation, we can come to forgiveness and bring compassion to ourselves, making friends with who we are, knowing we cannot change the past but we can change our attitude toward it. As we do this a remarkable thing begins to happen. The boundaries that normally keep us isolated from intimacy, boundaries that have been maintained over the years to protect us from being hurt, begin to come down, like old walls crumbling and falling.

In this way, forgiveness is truly revolutionary. It releases the pain of the past so we are free to live in the present. It changes fear and hate into love and acceptance, just as an oyster uses the irritation from a grain of sand to produce the beauty of a pearl. It enables us to live with kindness and caring.

Forgiveness Meditation

You can develop forgiveness for yourself for another. You may want to meditate on just one of these areas when you do this practice. Find a comfortable place to sit, and settle your attention on your breathing.

1. Focus on memories, feelings or issues that you have not forgiven yourself for. Simply observe, without attachment. Hold yourself with care and tenderness, inviting forgiveness. Silently keep repeating: “I forgive myself, for my words and actions, intentional or unintentional, I forgive myself. May I be peaceful and filled with loving kindness.” Keep breathing, letting the breath open and soften your heart.

2. Now focus on one person you wish to forgive. Breathe out any resistance or anger, and breathe in forgiveness and gentleness. Silently keep repeating: “I forgive you, for your words and actions, intentional or unintentional, I forgive you. May you be peaceful and filled with loving kindness.” Be gentle with yourself. Do not get sidetracked by the details of what happened. Let go of the story and breathe in forgiveness.

Feel the joy of forgiveness throughout your whole being. When you are ready, take a deep breath and slowly let it go.

What does forgiveness mean to you? Do comment below.


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Ed and Deb Shapiro

You can learn more in our book, Be The Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Marianne Williamson, Jane Fonda, Ram Dass, Byron Katie and others. Our 3 meditation CD’s: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at:


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4:31AM PST on Feb 24, 2015

If one never opens his fist, he can never find a friend

2:28AM PDT on Jul 17, 2012

Before entering my own comment I noticed Julie H. commented and said it for me "forgiveness is for YOU, not for the other person."

12:03PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

working on it!

10:43AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Forgiveness is certainly a necessity for our own peace of mind as well as an act of generosity toward the person we feel has harmed us. However, the idea that one can't dance or sing or smile unless one has forgiven is drivel.

7:14AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

I have forgiven everyone that has every hurt me, and that is a lot coming from an abusive family. It does no good to go on hating them. They are not the same people as they were then. Those bad people are gone now. They have changed into different people and are trying to make up for what they did and I accept it. You can do it so let go of the hatefulness, or at least try, it comes up every now and then, and I think about it and let it go if you can as it does you no good to hold on to it. Love and light, namaste.

6:56PM PDT on Jun 3, 2012


11:18AM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

great article, thank you!

11:16AM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

great article thanks for sharing it with us

6:31AM PDT on Jun 1, 2012

Forgiveness as a daily practice is a great habit to cultivate.

2:23PM PDT on May 31, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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