Shower Your Heart...

Shower Your Heart

with a Toltec Touch of Forgiveness

We find it normal to take a shower and wash our bodies on an almost daily basis, don’t we? Personal hygiene has become something so natural for most of us, over the past hundred years or so, that we’ve forgotten that it wasn’t at all the case for many centuries before. Did you know, for instance, that most of the beautiful palaces built in the 19th century in Europe, that still exist today, often had only one bathroom per floor, at the time?

Well, if physical hygiene has become the norm, nowadays, what about emotional hygiene? Have we ever been told that our hearts need as much cleanliness and purity as our bodies, if not more? Yes, we are told that bad cholesterol may clog up our arteries and lead to various heart pathologies, some of which may even be lethal. But what about our emotional heart, what about these inner “subtle vessels” through which love flows from our heart to the heart of others? Has anyone taught us that daily doses of negative feelings – anger, hate, resentment, gossip, judgments, etc. – end up leaving toxic deposits in our emotional circulatory system, keeping our heart from loving fully? This, in turn, leads to all sorts of imbalances, diseases and illnesses, including physical ones.

In 1999, in Mexico, I was lucky to meet a Toltec Master of love: Don Miguel Ruiz. I had already translated and published in French is best-selling books The Four Agreements and Mastery of Love, by that time. Little did I know, when I first met him, that within 24hrs, he would bestow on me a life-changing gift, a simple four-step ritual to clean the heart of all that keeps it from loving at full volume.

With Don Miguel, I discovered that the equivalent of the shower, for the physical body, is forgiveness, for the heart. Forgiveness washes our heart free of all the negative feelings we have accumulated over months and years, to the point where just a little gush of love could barely flow from it. Forgiveness flings wide open the floodgates of our heart, allowing love to rush through us unhindered.

But – and this is a big “but” – Don Miguel did not teach me to forgive, as so many of us try in vain, desperately attempting to “forgive our enemies” or “turn the other cheek”, and finding it very difficult to do so. Don Miguel taught me to ask forgiveness instead!

At first, I was bewildered. Why should I ask forgiveness from others? Am I not the one who suffered, am I not the one who’s been hurt and wounded?…

It took me a while to understand the truth behind Miguel Ruiz’ complete reversal of the practice of forgiveness. Here is the  fundamental spiritual truth I finally discovered: however much we have suffered, whatever has been done to us, we don’t have to close our heart, we don’t have to stop loving and let our love dry out. We are not machines. We have free will. We can make the choice to keep loving, to remain open to love.

In asking forgiveness, I became aware that I had been judging others. I realized I had used them as a reason, as an excuse to shut my heart, even just a little bit. So, in asking forgiveness from others for having judged them, I was actually asking forgiveness from love. Yes, asking forgiveness from Love, with capital “L”. Because, I had shrunk or shut my heart, so that Love could no longer flow freely through me and towards all others. Because of one pain, of one hurt, one wound, I had started to love less. And over the years, after many minor and sometimes major hurts and wounds, I had found myself with a heart all shrunk up, dried up, clogged up.

So, each time I ask forgiveness, in four increasingly challenging steps leading up to self-forgiveness (the most difficult part), I give up my righteousness, I give up feeling superior to the ones I can’t forgive, I become humble before love, and I let that love shower and wash my heart of all resentment, all anger, hate, vengefulness or other negative feelings.

The practice of the Gift of Forgiveness, as I have called this magical ritual Don Miguel offered me back in Teotihuacan, has become over the past ten years a natural way for me preserve my emotional hygiene, to keep a clean heart, a pure heart.

Have you ever had to stay several days without being able to wash yourself (on a hike in the wilderness, for instance)? If so, do you remember what it felt like, when you finally took a shower and got rid of that dirt and foul odor of yours? How good and fresh and clean it felt? You came out of the shower, and it was like a new life had just started!

Well, the Gift of Forgiveness can do just that to your heart: it can increase tenfold your capacity to love, to enjoy life and to make the best of your intimate relationships.

Give yourself a treat: have a shower of forgiveness, and let love flow again freely through and from your heart!

- Olivier Clerc 

  © Olivier Clerc, 2013-2020.