Forgiveness is a major theme in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is also a highly regarded virtue in Eastern religious philosophy, and those spiritual teachers offer a variety of practices to develop a spirit of forgiveness. Eastern thinking understands that forgiveness is compassion in action. It has the power to uplift and transform our lives, and, sometimes, the lives of those whom we forgive. Forgiveness helps shed pain, bitterness, anger, and even hatred. Here is a six-step forgiveness meditation to practice when you are feeling wounded by someone else's words or deeds.

1. Relaxation: Use a quiet place where you won't be disturbed or distracted. Light a candle to symbolize the eternal light of divine love, compassion, and forgiveness. Sit comfortably on a cushion or a chair. Begin to relax your mind, spirit, emotions. Many find relaxation comes more easily when they focus on their breath. Simply breathe in and out, slowly and intentionally. Do this to a count of forty. Then meditate on the deity of your choice, asking for help in forgiving the person who hurt you.

2. Recall the person who hurt you and the words or actions that offended you. Without vilifying the person, simply focus on how you are feeling: angry, hurt, betrayed, bitter, furious, etc.

3. Reframe your experience by thinking of the other person. Understand that this person, like yourself, is changing every moment. Put yourself in his or her shoes. Try to see that they believed that their words or actions would give them pleasure or help them avoid suffering. Such motivations are often no different from our own.

4. Respond with forgiveness. Using the name of the person, say out loud: 'I forgive you.'

5. Recognize that you have made an intentional effort to forgive. Thank your deity or higher power for helping you with this effort.

6. Repeat this meditation as often as necessary and until you feel your forgiveness is complete. It often takes a series of forgiveness meditations to reach wholeness and peace.

Victor M. Parachin in Eastern Wisdom for Western Minds