When it comes to meditation, success depends on how easily we can still the mind to focus within. Anger and hatred, however, are impediments to stilling the mind.
We know how difficult it is to still the mind. The more activity going on in our mind, the longer it takes to become concentrated in our meditations. Anger and hatred add more fuel to our mind. If we are to maintain a calm mind, we need to cultivate forgiveness. Forgiveness involves forgetting what the person has done to us so we can move on with our life with a clear mind and heart.
When we do not forgive someone, thoughts of anger, bitterness, and revenge rankle in our own minds and hearts, and we are the ones who suffer. One of the great modern female poets in America, Maya Angelou, has said very beautifully, “When we see injustice in the world, we can feel anger, but we should not be bitter. Bitterness is a cancer that eats away at the host. The person at whom we are bitter does not even feel our bitterness, but we are the ones who suffer from it.”
Don’t Give in to Anger
When we are filled with anger and hatred, we cannot concentrate at work. Our productivity and efficiency may drop because we are unable to keep our mind on our work. Instead of paying attention to our job, we are thinking about who has hurt us, how they have hurt us, why they have hurt us, and how we can hurt them back.
This cycle of angry thoughts ruminates in our mind, and we cannot focus on our work. Thus, we may make costly mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes can cost others their lives. We know that drivers, pilots, train conductors, or bus drivers can be in such a rage that they cause an accident in which others are hurt or killed. A doctor or pharmacist whose mind is not on their work can cause harm to patients.
To avoid disastrous consequences, it is much better to forgive. Instead of letting thoughts of hatred and anger possess us and disrupt our lives, we should stop ourselves and forgive the other person. In this way, we can keep our mind free and clear of the detrimental effects of anger.
Forgiveness Has a Positive Effect on the Brain
Medical researchers are finding another benefit to forgiveness. It has a positive effect on our brain. There is increasing scientific evidence of how anger causes stress-related ailments. Scientists are now discovering that the release of cortisol may damage our brain. Brain scans and medical tests show that exposure to the body’s own cortisol and stress hormones can cause a build-up in the brain’s blood vessels and nervous system that may cause a stroke, damage to parts of the brain, or maybe even Alzheimer’s disease.
Brain scans of people under stress indicate certain parts of the brain can malfunction, causing anxiety, depression, and other psychological problems. If we know that anger can cause irreparable damage to our brain and affect our thinking and emotional states, then we may want to consider learning the art of forgiveness. In this way, we can protect the health of our brain and maintain healthy emotions and thinking abilities.
Become an Agent of Love
Additionally, if we hurt others mentally or emotionally, they may react to us, causing a negative atmosphere. We become contributors to the negativity in the universe. It makes others want to react back to us negatively. Before we know it, we have a toxic, poisonous environment in our homes, in our offices, in our communities, and in the world. Do we wish to add to the poisonous atmosphere, or do we wish to bring about one of love? We can put a stop to the pollutants of hatred and anger with the balm of forgiveness.
If we do not react to other people’s negativity and instead forgive them, they have no one against whom to react. It puts a stop to the chain reaction. If we remain loving to others, how long will they be negative to us? They will ultimately give up. Either they will become loving back to us, or else they will move on to bother someone else who is more responsive to their negativity. Thus, we have stopped our own involvement with their negativity. In time, they may be so moved by our love and forgiveness that they may change their ways.
Forgiveness is a Godly Virtue
If our goal is to meet God in this lifetime, then the password to God’s abode is love. God is love, and only love can reside in God’s domain. Thus, for us to find God, we must become all love. Anger and hatred are strangers in the land of God. Each time we participate in thoughts, words, and deeds of anger and hatred, we are strangers to God’s land. Darkness can no longer exist where there is light. Hatred can no longer exist where there is love.
How can we make sure we are fit to return to God? Each night we can reflect on the events of the day and see if we acted in love or in hatred. If we are agents of hatred and violence, we know that we have to do better the following day. It gives us a chance to reform ourselves so that the next time we are in the same situation we can have a chance to act in love. In this way, step by step, day by day, we can become more loving. If we find we continue to act in anger and hatred, we can apply the balm of forgiveness to change our way of thinking, speaking, and acting. Forgiveness is the remedy for anger and will help us find God.
When we learn to forgive, we become examples for others to emulate. Love and forgiveness inspire others to love and to make the world peaceful. When people see that even when slapped on one cheek, we can forgive, they are moved to follow our example. Why? Because forgiveness against those who hurt us is the greatest example of godly love in this world. If we are forgiving, we are one less person adding negativity and hatred to the world. If each of us were forgiving, it would not be long before the world would become more loving and peaceful.
The Choice Is Ours
When faced with painful events caused by others, we have a choice. Most give in to anger, hatred, and revenge, and it causes further suffering. If we take control of ourselves and draw on God’s love and compassion, we can manifest it in our lives. This will give us the power to forgive. If we do so, we will find that our minds are calmer and we are able to still our minds more easily when we sit to meditate, which will bring forth faster results in our spiritual development.