Step One—Remorse
See if you can get in touch with the remorse of going against your own heart—that by holding onto resentment you are hurting yourself more than the other person is hurting you.

Step Two—Resistance
Picture the person you feel resentment toward and try to breathe their image into the area in the center of the chest. If you feel resistance, don’t try to force it; just stay with the physical experience of resistance as long as it takes for the resistance to soften. This might take numerous occasions of doing the forgiveness meditation for this softening to begin to happen.

Step Three—Surrender
Ask yourself: Can I surrender to what is? Whatever you are feeling—whether it is hurt, anger, resentment, bitterness, or fear—try to stay with the physical experience of the emotion. Label any strong thoughts that arise, but keep coming back to the body over and over. Gradually try to breathe the painful feelings into the center of the chest on the inbreath, until they can rest there without struggle. This step may also take a fair number of practice sessions.

Step Four—Forgiveness 
Silently say the words of forgiveness.

[Say the person’s name],
I forgive you.
I forgive you for what you have done,
Whether intentionally or unintentionally,
From which I experienced pain.

I forgive you,
Because I know that what you did
Came from your own pain.

Return to this meditation as many times as you need to until the words of forgiveness come forth naturally from the heart. At that time, the words are no longer tools to help nurture forgiveness—they are simply a verbal expression of your genuine openhearted compassion.

From June’s Tricycle Retreat leader Ezra Bayda’s new book, Beyond Happiness, The Zen Way to True Contentment

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