Mountains Become Smaller and The Body Feels Lighter
Forgiveness is complicated. The concept of forgiveness is associated with emotions and actions. Forgiveness and unforgiveness has a profound effect on the body. Forgiveness is regularly requested by people from Allah Most High. However, when one is hurt by someone, forgiveness is difficult to serve.
“. . . And let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Quran 24:22).
There are abundance of examples from the Best of Creation, our Beloved Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) – he was vastly forgiving, merciful and gentle (peace and blessings be upon him). The Quran and Sunnah teach us the wisdom and rewards of forgiveness.
“The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon God.” (Quran, 42:40).
There are numerous spiritual benefits in this life and rewards in the Hereafter that are so great, they are difficult to perceive. However, there is one dimension often overlooked – the physical benefits of forgiveness. Interesting studies have been published that showcase the physiological, physical and mental effects of forgiveness. All praise belongs to God.
Summary of forgiveness based on experiments and psychological studies:
– One study showed that when participants were asked to do a small forgiveness study, their physical abilities were elevated.
– In one part of the study, the participants that were unable to forgive (unforgiveness), actually perceived a mountain to be higher. They also misjudged the difficulty of climbing the mountain and they found it steeper than the control group. The conclusion: forgiveness may actually make you feel physically lighter and alter your perception of reality.
– In another part of the study, the two groups – the forgiveness and unforgiveness groups – the forgiveness group was able to jump higher in an ostensible fitness test. Again, alluding to the idea that forgiveness makes you feel like a load has been lifted off your shoulders.
– Other studies showed that those that thought of a time someone really hurt them and were not able to forgive, they showed signs of stress when they examined their brain (which overtime can cause physical damage to the body). In other words, holding onto resentment can harm the body.
– Granting forgiveness was associated with activations in a brain network involved in showing empathy.
– In another similar study, it was found that resentment can lead to reduced immune system functionality.
– Forgiveness is also viewed as actions-related. If you have forgiven, you may also be able to do kind acts for the person.
– Researchers found that even if a bus driver has annoyed you – it can clutter your mind. Or someone who has skipped the queue, for example. Consciously forgive everyone, if you can, at the end of every day.
Rancor may be destructive on many levels. It harms you physically and spiritually. Forgive. And see your possibilities open up, your mountains become smaller and your strength increase. God Willing.
Zheng, X., Fehr, R., Tai, K., Narayanan, J., & Gelfand, M. J. (2015). The unburdening effects of forgiveness: Effects on slant perception and jumping height. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6(4), 431-438.
Bartholomaeus, J., & Strelan, P. (2016). Just world beliefs and forgiveness: The mediating role of implicit theories of relationships. Personality and Individual Differences, 96, 106–110.
Rye, M. S., Pargament, K. I., Ali, M. A., Beck, G. L., Dorff, E. N., Hallisey, C., et al. (2000). Religious perspectives on forgiveness. In M. E. McCullough, K. I. Pargament & C. E. Thoresen (Eds.), Forgiveness: Theory, research and practice (pp. 17-40). New York: Guilford.
Staub, E., & Pearlman, L. A. (2001). Healing, reconciliation, and forgiving after genocide and other collective violence. In R. G. Helmick & R. L. Petersen (Eds.), Forgiveness and reconciliation: Religion, public policy, and conflict transformation (pp. 205-227). Philadelphia: Templeton.
Witvliet, C.V.O., Ludwig, T. E., & Vander Laan, K. L. (2001). Granting forgiveness of harboring grudges: Implications for emotion, physiology, and health. Psychological Science, 12, 117-123.