From Forgive and Be Free: A Step-by-Step Guide to Release, Healing and Higher Consciousness, by Ana Holub Order the Book Here
It was summer. I was on a river trip with a group of women, all of us adventuring together on the Klamath River in far northern California, up near the Oregon border. I was paddling my kayak, drinking in the day, the beauty, the dappled sunshine glinting on the water’s surface. Underneath, though, I was worried. What if I got tossed?
Every serious river runner has to deal with this fear at some point. I’d been paddling the Klamath for years, a dozen times or more, managing to stay in the boat through countless rapids and getting pretty handy in the process. I’d “gone swimming” only once before, years back. But I knew that at some point the river would swoosh my little body out of the boat again and leave me floundering in the rush-and-tumble current, because that’s just how it is. You can’t do a lot of river running without that experience, and the more I kayaked, the closer I came to the inevitable.
I was lucky—it was a warm day. Coming up to a class three rapid, I paddled hard to align my boat with the perfect slot to slide me from smooth water into the churning torrent. As so often happens in whitewater, the slightest drop in my concentration would be my undoing. I darted a glance to “river right,” making sure to avoid some overhanging branches, then put my focus back on the slot ahead of me.
But that one glance cost me a microsecond I didn’t have, and the river wasn’t waiting around. I went sideways over the rapid, rolled upside down, and got shucked out of that little kayak so fast I couldn’t even think about it. I was swimming, and that was that. The water was zipping me along, my bright yellow boat bobbing merrily off to my left.
After the first shock of surprise, magic happened. I realized that the mighty Klamath River was holding me, carrying me, buoying me up. I felt utterly safe in its embrace, and out of the blue, I began to cry. My warm salty tears met the sparkling river water, and we celebrated the truth that in this moment, there was nothing wrong, nothing scary, nothing to shrink from or avoid—just warm water carrying me downstream. The river felt strong and steadfast, covering all of me but my upturned face and knobby knees. As it took me, I relaxed into the safety of it, still crying with relief and new understanding. It was a moment I will never forget.
Kayaking or rafting can be a dangerous sport, and not every toss from a boat in swift water leads to an experience as ecstatic as mine on that wondrous summer day. Just the same, I gained a powerful lesson from the Klamath. All my fears, hesitations, and assumptions were laid bare in one drenching, cathartic moment, when I realized they were not true. The lesson was powerful because I was so aware of the metaphor: the water embracing me was alive and teaching me to trust, just as the water of every moment is also alive and permeating everything. It’s the river of life. And that day, I found out that it’s also the river of love.
The River of Life is the River of Love
In this book, I will show you how to feel the embrace of the river of love, no matter what has happened to you, no matter what you are experiencing, no matter where you’re headed.
Even if you hit a rock or flip upside down and find yourself gasping for air, this forgiveness journey will help you. Whenever you are ready (and not a moment before), you can choose it. You aren’t the only one struggling, and there is a direction that will bring guidance and healing. You just need to learn how to let the river take you, teach you and bring you to peace.
You’ve probably traveled from your little kayak of safe predictability to the big river of uncertainty many, many times throughout your life. The question is – do you kick and scream, avoid, fight back, complain and agonize as you splash down into the water? Or do you relax and trust, letting the river of life become the river of love?
This book explores the sacred link between what life brings and what love offers. Life is often wonderful, yet at times it can also be unbelievably hard to bear. Ordinarily, we learn to have faith in some parts of it and distrust the rest. For example, we admire the beauty of nature or the innocence of a child’s smile, but avoid the crimes, disasters and failures of our past. We make a split inside our minds: love is nice when you can get it, but life is hard and struggle is necessary.
Perhaps you’re a bit interested in the potential of forgiveness in your life, but you wonder, “If I forgive, does that mean I’m weak? Does it mean I’ll turn into a sap, or a clone, or a doormat? Will people use and abuse me if I forgive? Do I need to forget what happened, or will I become too passive or “airy fairy” if I forgive?” The answer is NO to all of that. Forgiveness is actually a workout for the soul to make you stronger and more loving and compassionate at the same time. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”
In this book, I’ll show you that the river of life is the river of love. Spirit lovingly teaches you the soul lessons you need by giving you your life – exactly as it is. In Part One, you’ll learn about the essential importance of your emotions to your forgiveness practice – scientifically, socially and culturally. Emotions link all of us into one family, as we feel the ups and downs of human life together. Following the experiential steps in Part Two, you’ll take an honest look at your human experience and soul patterns. From deep within, you’ll pull forth a sincere willingness to release your grip on suffering and reach for trust in something bigger — a universal, loving force — that can accept and celebrate all of you. You will see that accepting yourself as you are, grimy and exalted, challenged and wise, can become a daily practice. A new way of being. Love, life and forgiveness are embracing you no matter how tumultuous your situation looks or feels. So get in the water and enjoy the ride! Order the book here
FORGIVE AND BE FREE: TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction: Exploring Forgiveness 10
How Forgiveness Moves in Me: A Personal Introduction
What is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness Is Not Psychotherapy
An Example of What I’m Talking About
Connecting Emotional Release with Forgiveness
Forgiveness Is for Everyone
Saying YES to Tears
Forgive and Be Free: The Steps
How to Use This Book
Chapter One: Your Emotional Life and the Benefits of Forgiveness 29
What are Emotions?
Emotions and Your Brain
Emotions and Your Heart
Emotions and Your Cells
The Medical Benefits of Forgiveness
Chapter Two: Gender, Culture & Our Deep Need to Heal 42
Gender Matters on Your Current Planet
Bridging the Gender Chasm
Your Family Lineage
Emotional Tone or Vibration
Culture and the Collective Level of Feeling
THE STEPS TO FORGIVENESS & FREEDOM
Chapter Three: Step One • Creating Sacred Space 55
What Is Sacred Space?
Why Create A Sacred Space?
Sacred Space Is Not A Place
Exercise for Slowing Down
Ways to Create Your Sacred Space
Prayer as an Act of Connection
To Pray is to be Humble and Human
Chapter Four: Step Two • Telling the Story 67
My Story, or How I Got into the Forgiveness Business
Back to You and Your Process: Start with Forgiveness Lists
They Owe Me an Apology
I Owe Him/Her/Them an Apology
Further Thoughts on Apology
Apologizing to God
Telling Your Story
Choosing an Item from Your List
An Example of H.O.W.
Chapter Five: Step Three • Navigating the Emotional Body 98
Two Essential Ingredients
Finding the Emotional Knot
Describe and Witness the Knot
The Story as Symbol
Back to the Knot
Describing the Knot worksheet
The Feeling Tone
Some Examples of Knots
Chapter Six: Step Four • Embracing Fear with Love 112
Approaching the Edges of the Knot
Looking in the Mirror
The Tricky Part
Chapter Seven: Step Five • Listening for Hidden Messages 122
Reactions and Responses to the Ego
The First Layer of Messages
Self-Pity is Married to Blame
Deciding to Go Deeper
Revealing Hidden Messages
Universal Messages of the Ego
All Forgiveness is Self-Forgiveness
Mind in Matter
Support for Plunging In
Hidden Messages worksheet
Chapter Eight: Step Six • Releasing 140
Coping with Anger
Breathing Exercise for Relaxing and Calming Down
Even Nice Girls (and Guys) Get Angry
Am I Ready to Let Go?
Using Your Breath
Two Images to Help You Release
Releasing, Breath by Breath
The Essential Decision of Release
Calling on Divine Support for Release
Chapter Nine: Step Seven • Witnessing the Changes 156
Feeling the Shift
Examining Your Body
Possible Changes After Releasing
Chapter Ten: Step Eight • Examining the Lessons 164
The Ego is Obvious
Embracing the Opposite
Sit Quietly and Receive the Wisdom
The Three Fears – Turned Around
Learning Your Soul Lessons
Soul Lessons worksheet
Chapter Eleven: Step Nine • Soul Expansion 173
Deepening the Pause
Drinking IN with Enjoyment
It’s Essential to Receive
Rewiring Your Entire System
Expanding the Sacred Circle
Witnessing with Love • Being Witnessed in Love
Chapter Twelve: Step Ten • Emanating a New Life 185
Expand Your Blessings
Sample Closing Prayer or Statement of Completion
After the Session – Integrating the Inner Changes
Living with Your Lessons
The Role of Intuition in Emanating a New Life
Your Soul Purpose Revealed
The Golden Light
Chapter Thirteen: Reviewing the Process 199
Start with What is Sacred
Find and Explore the Knot
Burdens Disappear and Lessons Replace Them
Receive Light and Come Full Circle
Give Love Away
Complete with Clarity
Poem: Simple Instructions for True Happiness