Forgiveness Meditation

Healing relationships is key to addiction recovery

Without relationship, there is no practice, there is no recovery. Finding a way to heal relationships and the pain that can get in their way is core to our recovery. That’s why we begin our meditation by recognizing what was done and the pain that it caused. If we’re offering forgiveness to someone who had hurt us, for example, we could say, “Recognizing the pain that has been caused, I offer you forgiveness.” This is our core principle if we’re going to move forward towards forgiveness and reconciliation: we acknowledge the pain, we acknowledge the harm.

Likewise, we acknowledge our own mistakes. This is the place where we can join with others, to see their mistakes and have compassion for their humanness. When we have self-compassion, when we acknowledge the harm that we have caused others as a result of our own suffering, confusion, greed, and hatred and ask for forgiveness, I think this really primes the compassion.

Then, in compassion meditation, we can invite somebody who has harmed us; we can begin to see their confusion, their own lack of understanding.  And we forgive that. We don’t forgive the action, we don’t have to say that what they did was right. Instead, we say, “What you did was harmful. But I’m willing to forgive you for being confused, hurt being that I also recognize in myself.”

Forgiveness meditation provides us with a way forward where we don’t get stuck in the narrative. We’ve all seen people who are stuck in that narrative, and we may also see this in ourselves, in an internal narrative that keeps on coming up over and over again. In our stuckness, there is a healing that needs to happen.

With guided forgiveness practice, we can let go of the story, let go of the details and rest in a phrase that expresses the compassion in our mind: “I offer you forgiveness.” The power of this practice is that we don’t have to believe it in order for it to work–we don’t have to actually feel forgiveness at first. Oftentimes what comes up at first is a lot of resistance, a lot of anger, a lot of pain, and this practice holds that; it holds what is underneath the story.

Healing is something that our body naturally does if we can give it the conditions to heal. By holding these phrases and letting go of all the details, things start to move through us. A healing meditation allows us to listen to our pain and the pain of others, which is where we come together. It opens up the space that allows for reconciliation.

We come together when we can acknowledge what is broken and difficult and hurt within us. When we can be met in that space, we can move forward. For people struggling with addiction, this is often a very emotional experience, and it can be too much. I encourage people to be very gentle in this process, to take it slowly. Start with the body as a resource and come back to it as needed; move into it, and also have the wisdom to move away from it if it becomes too much. Maybe not start with the biggest, baddest forgiveness that needs to occur. Maybe start with something accessible–forgiving my son, for example, for his sixteen-year-old-ness.

Often in early recovery there is so much hurt. If I see that somebody is really struggling with forgiveness practice, sometimes I’ll encourage them to do this practice just for themselves. To start with “I offer myself forgiveness for the harm that I’ve done based on my actions, my words, my thoughts and from my lack of action.” Just starting there, there’s plenty to work with. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just, “I forgive myself; I forgive you, Joseph.” And in that space, if I can start to open up space of forgiving myself, it starts to open space for others. If I can be a little softer with myself, I find I can be a little softer with the world.

Anger is going to come up and we don’t know when. Emotions have their own time. And we don’t know when our hurt is going to arise–it surprises me constantly. Maybe I hear something on the radio, maybe I’m reminded of something. And there it is, like an old wound, like the Fisher King, it’s still there. When it arises, can I be willing to say, “Yes. I will listen.”? Just know that I’m here to listen. I think that this is a wonderful statement of practice.

It’s why I find this mindfulness practice so crucial. I practice so that I’m ready to listen when emotions arise in their own way. I make the space and see who shows up. It’s never who I think it is going to be, and it’s always exactly what I need to work with. Recovery and practice is a process that unfolds in its own time. I can learn to trust that process, give it some time, give it some space. One thing I’ve learned is that if I can stay out of the reactivity of the moment and hold the spaciousness, the very thing that I thought was so important often resolves itself.

It’s well-known that meditation is beneficial to those in addiction recovery. What a daily meditation practice has given me is the space to recognize when something arises, whatever that something is, and the practice of coming back, coming back to what is here now. It allows me to come into a relationship with my experience and recognize it in a way where I don’t even have to see it as mine. There’s an experience that arises: I’m experiencing it, but I don’t have to believe everything that comes up, in the sense that I don’t have to react to it. I can give it some space so that when it comes up, I have a chance to come into a relationship with it. And in that movement, I have an opportunity to create a deeper relationship and cause less harm to myself.

I believe that the community is the whole of the practice. As a human being, a relationship with others is what allows me to have recovery; those moments of connection build recovery. It’s in those moments that I’m able to stay in a wise and skillful relationship with my fellow human beings as we all struggle through this. Without the ability to connect with others, I will fall into my pain story. I will fall into my habituated pattern, which is dangerous ground. It isolates me and removes me from my ability to stay in the grounding of the forgiveness of the heart, of compassion.

Practicing and coming back to whatever the object of meditation is moves me from reactivity to curiosity. It teaches me to stop and pause when agitated. It allows me to enter into relationship, instead of being dominated by conditioning. This is what is meant by not identifying with what arises, of not seeing it as something that is “mine.” Seeing it as “mine” means being lost in it; there’s no perspective. Practice gives me some perspective. This is really important. I’m sitting there watching stuff arise, not getting caught in it, and I see that its very nature is to arise and pass away. How could it possibly be mine, if that’s its nature? Any more than my ear wax is me or mine?

When I don’t take things so personally, I can meet the world with loving-kindness and compassion. Kindness and compassion are really the only really wise response to anger and hatred and resentment, to all of the things that pull me away from recovery into a space of desperation. This wise response gives me the choice, the spaciousness I need to stay in addiction recovery because I have resources: I’m resourced. My body has become a resource, my experience has become a resource. And these resources have given me peace and well-being that are sustainable and allow for deeper recovery.

Moving Toward Gratitude

If you follow these steps you will have released most if not all the energy in regards to your issue. You will always be able to go back to the experience but you will have the strength to see it in a new light. However, once the issue is resolved, I highly recommend that you just let it go. See it for the learning experience that it is and move on in gratitude.


This process is not about judging or blaming others. This is a very powerful meditation and the energies at work here are very real. Judging or blaming others during this meditation will only prolong your healing process and make it that much more difficult to release these energies in the future.

Thirteen Step Process to Forgiveness

1. Pick an Issue –

While sitting in your meditation place pick an issue. It is probably best to pick a simple one until you are familiar with the process. For most people the first time issue usually picks itself.

2. Relax 

If you have a standard practice to begin the meditation that puts you in a relaxed and open place, you can use this to begin.

3. Focus on Your Breath –

Now begin to focus on your breathing. Follow the in and out-breath without attempting to control the breath. Do this for 8 to 10 repetitions.

4. Combine Breathwork with Affirmations 

Next, we will do a series of affirmations in conjunction with the breathwork. It is important to focus on the energy connected with these affirmations as you are breathing. The first part of each affirmation is the same and you will repeat the words on the in-breath. The second part of each one is different and you will repeat it on the out-breath. All three are done in order and the order is repeated each time. You repeat the affirmations in order 1, 2, and 3 and then start at 1 again. Do the affirmations for about 15 minutes.

5. Focus on Chosen Issue –

Now you will want to focus on the experience that you chose at the beginning. It is important to remember that you are in complete control during this experience. Now begin to replay the experience in your mind. Focus in a very clear and objective way on the conversation(s) you had and as best you can remember what each of you said.

6. No Strings Apology Mental Exercise –

 When you, finish replay only your portion of the conversation. If you see (and you will) places where you treated the other person unfairly, were rude, or just went on a relentless attack you will want to sincerely offer an apology and ask for forgiveness. Prepare the content of your apology and imagine placing it inside a beautifully wrapped package. Take this package and place it front of the person (in your mind). Bow three times and each time say I am sorry. Then leave. (Again in your mind) You are not concerned with what happens to the package or what they do with it. Your focus should be on making a sincere, no strings attached apology.

7. Return Focus to Breath/Affirmations –

 Take a few minutes to breathe and repeat the affirmations for 1 to 2 minutes. You just want to recompose for the next step and not lose momentum.

8. Listen –

Now replay their portion of the conversation. This time is absolutely quiet. Try to forget your original reaction. It sometimes helps to see yourself as an uninterested third party taking notes. Listen very carefully. Now replay it again and focus on the point the other was trying to convey. Think about how you would convey the same point. When they are finished, thank them for sharing in the most sincere way you can. Now ask them if there is anything else they would like to say. Very often you will receive a great deal of insight into your relationship(s) at this point. So listen carefully!

9. Review with Non-Judgment –

Next, you need to imagine their entire conversation as a whole piece. Allow the conversation to take whatever energetic form that seems appropriate. Remember, you are not being attacked here but merely listening to what was expressed without any judgment.

10. Be at Peace –

While looking at this energetic package, begin to watch your breathing and repeat the affirmations. When you are ready you need to allow this package to fully enter your heart center. Continue to breathe and repeat the affirmations. Very soon you will experience a deep sense of peace. When you do, look into the eyes of the person and say:

11. Be Open to Receive Love and Light –

Now look deeply into your heart center, repeat the affirmations, and allow the energy you received to turn into pure love and light. Now repeat these words:

  • I have transmuted your gift into pure love and I joyfully return it to you in the fullness of love and joy.

12. Heart-to-Heart Connection –

Now imagine that this new gift of love is flowing from your heart center to theirs. When the transfer is complete say:

  • I am honored to have shared this learning opportunity with you. May all beings be blessed by the love we have shared today.

13. Be Grateful 

Thank them again and return to your heart center. Focus on your breathing and begin the affirmations again. Do this for about 3 minutes or less. Slowly bring yourself out of your meditation. Stand up, and when you are ready to bow one time and thank the universe for this healing opportunity.


Guided Meditation on Forgiveness by Joseph Rogers is available on Mindworks Addiction & Forgiveness Course. For additional resources related to Addiction Recovery by Mindworks check out the following:

  1. Working with Challenges Program Journey from Addiction to Meditation led by Tokpa Korlo.
  2. Article on Psychology of Addiction by Dr. Stephen Dansiger
  3. Article on Alcohol & Meditation
  4. Check back with us as we are adding to our programs and teachings on Addiction Recovery frequently.

Joseph has been a core teacher for Refuge Recovery, a non-profit organization grounded in the belief that Buddhist principles and practices create a strong foundation for a path to freedom from addiction.

By reading this article it’s clear that you’re interested in the practice of meditation and its results: making life more joyful and meaningful. And so are we! Mindworks is a non-profit organization with a mission to share authentic meditation guidance to you and our worldwide followers. Click the link below to find out more and discover:

  1. How to work with the mind and appreciate every moment
  2. How meditation enriches your life
  3. How to integrate meditation into your daily routine

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