A Reconciliation Meditation

Anxiety engenders feelings of isolation—when we don't feel at ease, how do we find peace? This meditation explores making amends for the times we've hurt ourselves, others, or those who have hurt us.

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Anxiety often involves feelings of separation and isolation, making it nearly impossible to be at ease and feel safe within your own flesh and being.

Reconciliation is the path to making peace with yourself and the world. Truly, to live and to die with a heart free of resentment, grudges, and ill will would be a crowning accomplishment in life. By practicing reconciliation meditation, you open the door to this possibility. 

Three Steps to Reconciliation

This is a three-faceted practice. The first aspect is to direct reconciliation toward yourself, making peace with all of the ways in which you’ve felt deficient or inadequate. These feelings often accompany anxiety, with the sense of If only I weren’t so anxious. This can make it especially difficult to be at home and at peace with yourself. Reconciliation practice can build a bridge to truly experiencing that you’re enough just as you are. The second aspect is reconciliation toward those you’ve hurt. The third is reconciliation toward those who have hurt you. To be clear, this is a meditation practice, and all of the work of reconciliation is done within yourself. While the practice may eventually lead to outreach to others to make amends for ways in which you’ve hurt them, that’s a separate choice and not part of this practice. And, of course, although you always have the power to forgive those who have hurt you, you have no control over whether others will seek reconciliation with you. However, you can work within yourself, using this threefold practice, to open a hardened and anxious heart, affording yourself some of the deepest healing and freedom possible.

By choosing to tune in to how you perceive yourself and your interpersonal interactions, you’re breaking free from fixed ideas of who you are and what you can be.

By choosing to tune in to how you perceive yourself and your interpersonal interactions, you’re breaking free from fixed ideas of who you are and what you can be.                                           

Meditation Exercise: Reconciliation 

Reconciliation Meditation

  • 20:42

Read through the entire script first to familiarize yourself with the practice, then do the practice, referring back to the text as needed and pausing briefly after each paragraph. Set aside about twenty minutes for the practice. You can do it in a seated position, standing, or even lying down. Choose a position in which you can be comfortable and alert.

  1. Mindful check-in: Take a few moments to pause and check in with yourself, acknowledging whatever you’re feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally. This may be the first time today that you’re stopping to check in with yourself to get a sense of how you’re doing. As you feel into your body and mind, just allow whatever is there and let it be. There’s no need to fix or solve anything. Just acknowledge whatever is in your direct experience.
  2. Mindful breathing: Gradually become mindful of your breath, breathing in and knowing that you’re breathing in, breathing out and knowing that you’re breathing out. Just take your life one inhalation and one exhalation at a time. Being present.
  3. Opening the heart: Now gently shift from your breath to feeling into your heart and reflecting on the preciousness and fragility of life. As you sense into your heart, try to hold it with great care and tenderness, opening to yourself with self-compassion. Let this be a time to make peace with yourself and end the war of self-loathing. Feel how, just like all beings, you are imperfectly perfect, just as you are.
  4. Opening to reconciliation: Open to the hindsight wisdom that can understand how all of your past, with all of its joys and sorrows, has led you into this moment. It has all been a part of what brought you here, now. Open to deep reconciliation with your past, knowing that your woundedness and lack of awareness contributed to your sense of unworthiness, inadequacy, whatever closed your heart to yourself.
  5. Practice self-compassion: Let this be a time to open your heart to deep self-compassion and love for yourself. Gently say to yourself, “May I be at ease and at peace. May I open to deep compassion for myself just as I am.” Rest in this reconciliation with yourself for a few minutes.
  6. Extend compassion outward: Now begin to expand this sense of reconciliation, extending it out to those you’ve hurt, whether through words, actions, or thoughts. Open your heart and, within yourself, make amends to those you’ve wounded in some way. Use your hindsight wisdom to reflect on how your actions were fueled by fear, anxiety, lack of awareness, or the need to protect yourself. Feel your heart becoming lighter and more at ease with the pain you’ve caused others as you understand where you were then and the pain you were experiencing within your own heart…extending reconciliation to those you’ve hurt. Rest in this sense of reconciliation with those you’ve hurt for a few minutes.
  7. Send compassion toward a difficult party: Now begin to open to reconciliation toward those who have hurt you. This may feel very difficult at first. Know that this practice will help release your heart from anxiety and foster deep healing and peace. It’s a pathway to increasing your own well-being and ease as you free yourself from the burden of living with resentment, grudges, and ill will. So feel into your heart and open to reconciliation toward those who have hurt you. Reflect on how, just as your own fear and lack of awareness allowed you to hurt others, this may also be true for those who have hurt you. The source of their hurtful actions is their own pain and woundedness. Rest in this sense of reconciliation with those who have hurt you for a few minutes. May we all find the gateways into our hearts and experience reconciliation.
  8. Close with kindness: As you’re ready to end this meditation, congratulate yourself for taking this time to open your heart to reconciliation with yourself, with those you’ve hurt, and with those who have hurt you. May all beings dwell within this peace.

This article has been adapted from A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook for Anxiety by Bob Stahl PhD, Florence Meleo-Meyer MS, MA, and Lynn Koerbel MPH.