I’ve been working my way through the Five Levels of Attachment by don Miguel Ruiz Jr. Although you can probably get through the book in one sitting, I’m taking my time with it. I will read a few pages, and then take some time to digest what it means. When I go back, I will re-read a few pages, and find a new deeper understanding. The words resonate in very interesting ways. The Ruiz family seems to have a knack for that kind of writing.
I came upon an exercise in the book that I find very profound – The Labyrinth in the Toltec Tradition. The instructions are pretty simple, the results however are very powerful. The focus of the exercise is a taking of responsibility for our own lives, a letting go of egoic conditioning and limiting beliefs, and a healing method of forgiveness.
And so without further ado, imagine yourself standing at the entrance to a large life-size labyrinth…
(I have condensed the excerpt for our purposes, but I encourage you to get a copy of the book. It’s excellent. Miguel’s words are in italics below).
As you enter the labyrinth, imagine it is a road map of your past that leads to your present moment in life. With every turn, envision a person, a moment, or a belief that you have used in some way to [limit] yourself. What or whom have you used to subjugate your own will in order to be accepted by yourself or others? When you hold that vision in your mind – a person for example – stop, envision him or her, and become aware of how their words have contributed to your [limiting beliefs] and say, “Forgive me. I have used your words to go against myself.” Although that person might have used his or her words and actions to [limit] you, or to cause you harm or pain, you are the one who ultimately said yes to the belief and allowed it to blossom in your mind.
Following the idea that we explored in the previous post about releasing the victim stories, it is important to recognize that you have caused yourself pain, by absorbing and believing the words and actions of others. Their intentions don’t really matter in this moment. This exercise is for you to see how you have contributed to your own pain, and how you can reclaim your power over your life and beliefs.
Forgiveness happens the moment you say no to carrying this pain, this weight, this hurt, and let go of it all…Forgiveness is the action that allows us to move forward in the labyrinth.
Continue through the labyrinth, repeating the same action of forgiveness as new people and situations come to mind – whatever person or wound hooks your attention at that moment. That is the next one you are ready to face and forgive.
As you reach the end… you will find yourself at the entrance to the center of the labyrinth. Stop here. Look at the entrance to the center point and envision a mirror. Walk up to that mirror and see your own reflection. When you are ready, repeat these words: “Forgive me, I have used your words most of all to go against myself, and I will no longer use them to hurt myself again.” The action of entering the center point of the labyrinth represents the moment you forgive yourself. This is the action of your own forgiveness and of reclaiming the power, or the impeccability, of your own word – of your own intent. You are worthy of your own forgiveness, as much as you are worthy of your own love.
At this point in the exercise, you have let go of the past by recognizing that the only thing that exists is this present moment. The labyrinth itself is now the past, and you can let it go as you forgive yourself. With awareness, you can now draw the knowledge from your past to make choices in the present moment. The labyrinth expands as you live your life, but the only truth is in that center, that present moment where you are alive. The labyrinth ceremony ends when you recognize that you are worthy of your own love because you are alive in this very moment.
This is one of the most beautiful exercises in forgiveness I’ve seen in a long time. I hope you try it.