When I visited an ashram for a short time at the age of 21 I was offered a different perspective about what it meant to forgive yourself. When staying at the ashram I had to do various jobs like housekeeping, landscaping, kitchen duty etc. My first day of housekeeping I was sent outside to bleach shower curtains. As I sprayed, the bleach splashed onto a pair of gray sweatpants hung on the line just in front of me. I rushed inside dousing the pants with water but sure enough, like mold on a strawberry, little white dots began to appear. When the guest came to retrieve his sweatpants he was extremely upset, they had been his favorite pair of pants. I felt terrible and cried to the head of housekeeping about it. There is no concealing your inner state, however you might try, and the other people in my program knew I was sad the rest of that day.
Across the hall from my dorm was a blonde boy, probably a couple years older than me, named Chandler. The most charming thing about him was that he actually said “golly” with all sincerity. When I told him what had happened his response was something I never expected. He said, “Katie, that man has given you the greatest gift! The chance to forgive yourself!” I had never looked at forgiving myself as a gift before. But forgiveness is a gift even when the person you happen to be forgiving is yourself. By forgiving you say, “While this or that has taken place, I see through that to your true self, the same self which is in all of us, holy and untouched by outer circumstance.” When you can say that to yourself, you are loving yourself. And while forgiving yourself at first may seem difficult, because of emotions like guilt and shame, you can practice by forgiving other people.
There are a million moments each day to forgive other people, to look past their outer form and see their truest inner being. When someone has an opinion you find offensive, you can look through that, you can forgive. When someone is unkind, unhelpful, or unforgiving to you, that is a moment to practice forgiveness. Even further, you can practice forgiveness by forgiving the present moment. Allow the now to be as it is by forgiving whatever it brings. When the present moment is undesirable, practice forgiving that moment by bringing inner acceptance to what is. When you accept and allow you open up space for change. Forgiveness does this for moments you experience, for people in your life, and for you. Forgiveness transforms the illusion of form into the reality of timeless being. Forgiveness makes all and everything holy and unified. No matter what you have done, that you now see in the light of awareness was not the right thing to do, practice forgiving yourself. Practice seeing past what you have done, to who you truly are. Looking past the outer circumstances of your life in turn allows you to do the same for all other beings. It connects us all, and gives us all the chance to live our destiny as fully conscious beings, unshaken by the illusion of outer circumstance.