The Three Steps of Forgiveness—Healing the Victim Inside

“For a dancer, God is Space.” – Yoshito Ohno

The night we practiced the Forgiveness Dance as part of our Yoga Dance Training in Kona, Hawaii, there was a frog in my throat. We practiced progressive forgiveness as a way to help heal the heart’s wounds and induce radiant health and joy around the places in our hearts where we’ve felt victimized.

Everywhere we look—in the newspapers, on TV, and even in our own personal lives—we see exam­ples of people who have been victimized by crazy people. 

There’s a lot to forgive in the world. If we’re lucky, it’s a full-time passion and we move from compassionate action to forgiveness as quickly as A to B. But for some people, victim consciousness weaves together a self-perpetuating narrative, and they move from hurt to hurt, wound to wound. They can’t seem to enjoy the open space of forgiveness, freedom, peace and unconditional love .

Colin Tipping in Radical Forgiveness says the time has come for us to stop creating our lives as victims and dominators. The fundamental question, he says, is this: “How can we let go of the victim archetype as the model for how to live?” 

“To break free from such a powerful archetype, we must replace it with something radically different—something so compelling and spiritually liberating that it magnetizes us away from victimhood,” Tipping says. “As we continue to move into the new millennium and prepare for the imminent next great leap in our spiritual evolution, it is essential that we adopt a way of living based not on fear, control, and abuse of power but on true forgiveness, unconditional love, and peace.”

The skill of the new human is to trust open space, learn from mistakes, to forgive each other and move on. When we stop forgiving, we stop living. Forgiving is necessary to heal past wounds; in freeing ourselves from the bitterness of the past, we also stop being trapped in a downward spiral of feeling victimized by the people and circumstances of life.

The Three People You Must Forgive

The Forgiveness Dance is a three-step process in which we invite in the three people we all must learn to forgive in life: Those whom we have hurt, those who have hurt us, and last but not least, ourselves. In a guided meditation, we invoked three separate kinds of people with whom we wanted to experience forgiveness.

Asking Forgiveness of Those We Have Hurt

Invite into your heart a person who you want to ask forgiveness of, someone who has felt hurt or betrayed by you, and who is withholding love because of it. In your heart, ask this person to forgive you and to allow a place of peace in your shared heart. Ask that you may find peace and a renewal of love with each other. In your heart, ask of that person, ‘Please forgive me for whatever I have done to cause you pain.’ Ask the person’s higher Self or spirit to open arms to embrace and listen to your higher Self in a communion of souls forgiving and reconnecting to each other.

Forgiving Those Who Have Hurt Us

As a Yoga Dancer, Wellness Consultant and Writer, I have heard enough horror stories from quite ordinary people to convince me that there is not a human being on the planet who has not been seri­ously victimized at least once, and in minor ways more times than they could count. Who among us can say they have never blamed someone else for their lack of happiness? For many, blame is simply a way of life.

Indeed, the victim archetype is deeply ingrained in the human species, and acknowledging that it exerts great power over mass con­sciousness can help us to transform it.  So in the Yoga Dance class, I ask students to invite into their hearts a second person, someone who wanted our forgiveness. This is a friend, family member or co-worker, who requests our forgiveness. It is someone we have pushed out of our hearts because we refuse to forgive what we perceive as a violation against us.

Say to the person who is asking forgiveness:I forgive you. I know that you are in pain and have felt victimized too.’ Then, as your higher Self, open your spiritual arms and receive the one who is asking forgiveness back into your heart. Feel the courage of compassion and see how your higher Self’s radiance adds to their radiance, and their light adds to yours. Experience how the laser-like spiritual power in real forgiveness dissolves old hurts and impediments to love. Open your spiritual arms and receive. Replace hatred with love’s light.  

Asking Forgiveness of Ourselves

The third person we invite into our hearts to ask forgiveness must be ourselves. How many times have we withheld forgiveness from ourselves? For some people, forgiving ourselves can be the hardest of all. In the forgiveness dance, we ask:

Bring your innocence and basic goodness to the forefront inside your heart. Feel the flame of purity flickering with joy in your heart. Compassion is your purpose. Your forgiveness of self spreads light upon the world. Infinite love and forgiveness inside your heart opens all the spiritual doors and re-invigorates your dance of pure aliveness.

As you go through these steps, you will intimately experience how forgiveness transforms us. Forgiveness can be the key to free us, often from energy patterns so fundamental, imprinted before the age of reason, language or voice, that we don’t even know how to identify them. And the layers can still be enmeshed in out bodies without our conscious control!

As long as we feel victimized by other people, circumstances or ourselves, we unconsciously project a dominator archetype and don’t even know it. Goodness will win when the dominator trait, the behavior pattern that begins with arrogance and ends with torture, repression, genocide and open warfare on a vast scale, runs itself out. Goodness is what will go on as long as we are free to forgive.

To free the earth from the victim-dominator archetype, many, many people—souls who possess the wisdom and love necessary to accomplish this immense task—must awaken and accept their spiritual mission: To feel, heal and release the victim and dominator archetypes.

Perhaps you are one of the souls who volunteered for this mission. If you are alive and breathing, I suspect you are.

Photos by: Koakane Green, D. C.

Marya Mann, Ph. D., started yoga practice after a 1968 car accident initiated her spiritual evolution. Study with Richard Freeman, Shiva Rae and Mukunda Stiles inspired her to open a yoga center in Illinois, travel to India and move to Hawaii. Co-author of Healing Our Planet, Healing Our Selves and wellness consultant in Kona, she offers Dance for the Planet and Healing Retreats. You can find more of her writings on her blog at


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