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What Is Forgiveness? 3 Benefits of This Powerful Practice

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Women hugging to show what is forgiveness

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Summary: What is forgiveness? What is it not? Explore how this powerful practice can transform your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Have you ever been heartbroken? Disappointed? Offended? Have you ever held on to something that no longer felt right for you? 

These are all opportunities to show mercy. But what is forgiveness actually?

It’s letting go of resentment. It’s feeling free again. And it’s making space for what you wish to come by letting go of what you don’t want more of.

You’ve all been told to ‘forgive and forget,’ to move on, to let it pass…and you get it. But do you truly know how impactful this practice can be? Or that you can even make it a practice in itself? 

You can start incorporating this habit as soon as you’re ready to invite new refreshing energy into your life and prepare to forgive yourself for not starting to forgive earlier.

Woman and man showing what is forgiveness

What Is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is more than just saying the words, “It’s okay” or “I forgive you.” It’s an emotional and heartfelt process. 

According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, it means “to put aside feelings of resentment toward an individual who has committed a wrong, been unfair or hurtful, or otherwise harmed one in some way.”

Forgiveness is the act of consciously accepting a personal offense and letting go of any negative feelings. This is done by using empathy and compassion to understand the person you are forgiving.

When we understand this way of thinking and act from a place of love, we can begin to feel its unshakable power.

What forgiveness is not

Many people mistake forgiveness with repressing emotions and think they have to cease being angry when they’re hurt. However, it’s not about running away from your feelings and wrapping them up in a shiny spiritually bypassed package of “I moved on. I’m okay. I have forgiven.”

It’s about taking full responsibility for your inner world. It involves voluntarily transforming your feelings, attitudes, and behaviors toward another person so that you don’t sink into resentment anymore. 

By forgiving, you clear out the space for more compassion, generosity, and self-love. You will be able to learn to relate differently to those who hurt you.

God has sent you nothing but angels —  everyone who has come in your life and done something to wrong you — you can choose to perceive that as an angel doing something to get you to the next level of your evolution.

— Vishen Lakhiani, founder of Mindvalley, bestselling author of The 6 Phase Meditation Method

Is forgiveness a choice?

Simply put, yes. However, it comes in nuances. 

Can you wake up one day and instantly be drowned in compassion and forgiveness for all the painful moments in your life? Probably not. But you can wake up tomorrow and choose consciously to start this process.

The Psychology and Science of Forgiveness

Your brain’s electrical activity produces five types of frequencies, called brainwaves. Here they are ranked from the highest frequency to the lowest:

  • Gamma (above 40 Hz): The Insight Wave
  • Beta (14 – 40 Hz): The Waking Consciousness and Reason Wave
  • Alpha (7.5 – 14 Hz): The Deep Relaxation Wave
  • Theta (4 – 7.5 Hz): The Meditation and Sleeping Wave
  • Delta (.5 – 4 Hz): The Deep Sleep Wave

These brainwaves are an indication of emotion and types of thinking. Higher frequency brainwaves are associated with higher levels of stress and alertness, while lower brainwaves are associated with intuition, relaxation, and creativity.

The average person consistently produces higher frequency beta waves during everyday life.

Monks, on the other hand, produce lower alpha waves, as science has found out. The alpha state is thought to be the key to inspiration, genius-level intelligence, peak performance, balanced emotional capacity, increased immunity, and even total control of the mind. 

The monks’ meditation practice helps develop a deep sense of forgiveness (among other virtues), which trains their brains to operate on a completely different wavelength (literally).   

Hands holding to show what is forgiveness

3 Benefits of Forgiveness

When you think about what forgiveness is, there might be a skeptical part of you that wants to do it just to fit into societal norms of #sharingkindness and #lovewins.

However, forgiveness has multiple benefits on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

#1: Release toxicity stored in your body

A 2014 study in the Journal of Health Psychology shows the link between high-stress levels and mental and physical health problems in 148 young adults. However, with the participants who practiced forgiveness, there was a decline in stress-related health problems.

Another study even shows its health benefits, which included the ability to reduce feelings of tension, anger, depression, and fatigue.

So, by practicing forgiveness, you release the mental, emotional, and physical toxicity that comes from carrying resentment and animosity. 

#2: Change your perception of yourself

According to Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, founder of Agape International Spiritual Center and trainer of Mindvalley’s Life Vision Mastery Quest, if you don’t forgive (either the other person, yourself or both), you’re setting yourself up for self-abuse.

Forgiveness doesn’t imply you allow anyone to treat you as they please, nor does it mean that you allow those who abused or hurt you to re-enter your life. Instead, it’s about being honest with your emotions and changing your perception of yourself.

All forgiveness is self-forgiveness because you’re unbinding yourself from a perception that causes harm to yourself.

— Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, trainer of Mindvalley’s Life Vision Mastery Quest

Dr. Beckwith explains that forgiveness moves you away from the victim consciousness — a state where the core traits are blaming others, making excuses, rationalizing, justifying your choices, and refusing to take responsibility.

#3: Step into your personal power and responsibility

What forgiveness allows you to do is truly place yourself in the driver’s seat of your own life. It lets you guide your feelings and behaviors because you’re now in charge of transforming and transcending these emotional states that bring you down.

Additionally, the Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment shows that forgiveness gives you the opportunity to:

  • Take control of the situation and reassert personal power
  • Take responsibility for personal feelings
  • Accept personal healing

Leading your life consciously might be a frightening thought as you begin. After practice, you feel a new sense of liberation that might just bring to you everything you’ve ever desired to create.

Watch Vishen explaining more benefits of forgiveness:

The 5 Stages of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a process, not an immediate goal. Here are the five stages to get you moving towards healing:

#1: Have the willingness to forgive. It can be a challenging task, but a fulfilling one. Identify what you need to forgive and why (or if) you’re struggling to do so. If you are unwilling to forgive and hold on to your pain, you’ll continue to be stuck in a place of suffering.

#2: Practice forgiveness. Through meditations, affirmations, journaling, or other means, release your pain and hurt to the universe. Let it go.

#3: Be willing to see things from another’s perspective. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to understand why they behaved the way they did. 

Now, think back to a time when you were the offender. Doing this may help you be compassionate and remember that everyone makes mistakes.

#4: Wish them well. Holding a grudge is detrimental to your well-being. So, wish them well and be on your way.

#5: Do something symbolically to send positive energy in their direction. Whether you decide to reconcile or remove the person from your life, send them some good vibes. After all, as the Law of Attraction states, like attracts like. So, when you think good, you attract good.

Forgiveness is a process, so it might take a while before you begin to notice changes. Check in with yourself from time to time:

  • When you think back to what happened, does it cause a trigger?
  • How does the energy feel when you think of the person or event? Does it feel heavy? Or does it feel light?
  • Do you feel like the love you have for yourself and your capacity to love has strengthened?

Commit to the process and you’ll eventually find yourself feeling lighter and happier with the ability to move past your blame story and start living your empowering story.

How to Practice Forgiveness

Now, let’s get down to business. You now have the definition of “What is forgiveness?”. You’ve explored the science-backed forgiveness practices and their powerful benefits.

Now you only need to learn how to practically incorporate it into your life. Without further ado — *drum roll* — The 6 Phase Meditation Method.

The third phase of this meditation focuses solely on forgiveness. Here’s the ritual of how to do it every day:

  1. Identify the person or the act you want to forgive.
  2. Create the space (your mental visualization of where you go to forgive).
  3. Read the charges (what did that person do that hurt you?).
  4. Feel the pain.
  5. Think about what you’ve learned in the event that caused you pain.
  6. Think about how the other person might have been hurt in the past (hurt people hurt people, right?)
  7. See the incident from their eyes.
  8. Forgive into love (imagine hugging the person and forgiving them with compassion). This may take more than one session to feel it fully and truly.

The 6 Phase Meditation is a state of being that is possible for everyone.

— Vishen, founder of Mindvalley and author of The 6 Phase Meditation Method

In life, there are certain characteristics we need to constantly uplevel with,” says Vishen. And when you’re able to embrace them, your life will flow with ease.

If you want to experience the whole process, you can do so with The 6 Phase Meditation on Mindvalley’s YouTube:

Other ways to practice forgiveness

Here are a few more ideas on how to advance in your practice and level up your self-awareness. You can add them into your routine after your meditation when you need some edge in your forgiveness habit.

10 journal prompts for forgiveness

Use these journal prompts to deepen your practice:

  1. Do you find it easier to forgive others than yourself?
  2. How do you experience resentment?
  3. How does forgiveness feel to you?
  4. Do you tend to focus on the good things that someone did for you? Or the opposite?
  5. Have you ever failed to forgive yourself?
  6. Do you ever ask for forgiveness?
  7. How good do you think you are at setting boundaries?
  8. What’s the most difficult thing to forgive others for?
  9. What’s the most difficult thing to forgive yourself for?
  10. What would your life look like if you forgave everyone who hurt you?

So you can set up a nice writing space, light up a candle, pour yourself a cup of fragrant tea, and let the answers come to you. There’s no right or wrong here, only aspects of your inner world to acknowledge.

10 affirmations for forgiveness

You might also find it helpful working with these affirmations to bring more clarity into your mind:

  1. I forgive myself so that I can forgive others.
  2. I am free from the prison of resentment.
  3. Forgiveness is a gift I offer myself.
  4. I am capable of moving past my mistakes.
  5. I have the courage to heal.
  6. I have the courage to forgive.
  7. I forgive so that I can have inner peace.
  8. I forgive myself one day at a time.
  9. The past is done. I now live in the present.
  10. I live and let live.

They could be included in your daily routine or repeated out loud whenever you’re practicing bringing forgiveness to certain situations in your life.

Vishen reading his book, The 6 Phase Meditation Method
Vishen, founder of Mindvalley and author of The 6 Phase Meditation Method

Step Into Your Greatness

Congratulations on the inner work you’ve done. It sounds cheesy, but it’s a tough one. What would the world look like if everyone mastered the skill of forgiveness? Will our inner peace pour out and reflect on the outside reality simultaneously?

The great news is that with Vishen’s new book The 6 Phase Meditation Method, you can take the next step to create a world of compassion and forgiveness, love and care, connection and support. It all starts within. And it can all start with you.

Choose to show up. The world is waiting for you.

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Written by

Alexandra Tudor

Alexandra Tudor is a former content writer for Mindvalley and a psychology enthusiast. From clinical experience working with both children and adults, she's now in the process of becoming a licensed psychotherapist, specializing in the IFS method and family constellation therapy.
Picture of Alexandra Tudor

Alexandra Tudor

Alexandra Tudor is a former content writer for Mindvalley and a psychology enthusiast. From clinical experience working with both children and adults, she's now in the process of becoming a licensed psychotherapist, specializing in the IFS method and family constellation therapy.
Vishen, founder & CEO of Mindvalley
Expertise by

Vishen is an award-winning entrepreneur, speaker, New York Times best-selling author, and founder and CEO of Mindvalley: a global education movement with millions of students worldwide. He is the creator of Mindvalley Quests, A-Fest, Mindvalley University, and various other platforms to help shape lives in the field of personal transformation. He has led Mindvalley to enter and train Fortune 500 companies, governments, the UN, and millions of people around the world. Vishen’s work in personal growth also extends to the public sector, as a speaker and activist working to evolve the core systems that influence our lives—including education, work culture, politics, and well-being.

How we reviewed this article
Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.


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Fact-Checking: Our Process

Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. 

We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. 

The Mindvalley fact-checking guidelines are based on:

To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.