This past weekend Berlin was transformed into a public memorial to commemorate the 25th anniversary since the wall came down. An incredible 15km installation was erected along the footprint where the wall once stood. I’m sure you’ve by now seen the countless pictures of lit-up helium balloons that lined the streets and then were released on Sunday night into the night sky, carrying messages of hope and peace. It was a spectacular occasion and felt really special to take part in such a historic event that was celebrated in such a unique and creative way.
It got me thinking though. On an individual level, how can we commemorate this historic global event that changed so many people’s lives and in effect changed the world? How can we think about the walls within ourselves and what needs to “come down” in order to free us and give us a new lease on life?
I walked around on Saturday and Sunday, past parts of the existing wall which is now the East Side Gallery sporting colourful murals in front of which people were taking pictures of themselves embracing or kissing and I was reminded of how human beings are most human and most humane to one another when they are given permission to celebrate peace and when they are reminded of their freedom. With enough space and freedom, human beings turn naturally towards love. Elsewhere, near Checkpoint Charlie, there were women in colourful garb ala 1960s flower children with signs saying “Free hugs” and strangers were getting in on the action while the “soldiers” watched on and stood for pictures.
So how can you use this anniversary as a prompt to shift something within yourself? How can you manifest a renewed sense of peace and love within your heart? I pondered on this for a while and then I realised that as cliched as it sounds, it is all about forgiveness. And sure, forgiveness of others is important and vital in terms of freeing yourself from the shackles of past relationships. It was Nelson Mandela who demonstrated this best, in my opinion. He spoke of how being resentful or holding grudges is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. And he also spoke about how he had to forgive his captors because if he didn’t then he would never be free. I think that these are such powerful messages and ones that we, in our small little lives, need to think about.
But above all else I think that the secret to life and the secret to letting go of past traumas or bitterness or longing or grief is the ability to forgive oneself. It’s not always easy and in fact it can take all of one’s psychological energy but in the end it is the most freeing thing imaginable. So for each of you reading this, I hope that you can include a message of self love and forgiveness in your daily prayers/mantras/meditations/thoughts. We all have the power to release that which holds us back or keeps us in the past or makes us feel small or insignificant. Forgiveness is the first step to take in the direction of love, peace and freedom. And there’s no one to stop you from making that move.