It might be the most obvious thing once you think about it. To for-give is based in ‘giving’. As long as the mind remains in a ‘getting’ state, forgiveness cannot arise. Therefore, a simple definition of forgiveness is to reach a state in which one has nothing to get/gain from another person or situation. And the person/situation is automatically forgiven.
Since the desire to ‘get’ is anchored in the person who expects to receive (and not in the giver) the ‘hopeful receiver’ allows this idea to corner a lot of his/her conscious and subconscious space. Consequently, when there is less space available for other things, there is higher pressure on the mind, which quite obviously is detrimental to mental and spiritual wellbeing. Forgiving, therefore, is a necessary step to ease out the space and release the pressure.
When you have truly forgiven, you feel the space clearing out in your mind and spirit. The mind, or the conscious part, senses ease and relaxation. This could feel like a ‘phew’ response; a sigh of relief. The spirit, which corresponds to the subconscious, might take longer. The test is, how’s the emotional charge? Does a mention of the activity/person forgiven arouse any emotion? If yes, charge remains. If no, that space is clear too.
In terms of clearing of this space, there is no difference between forgiving a loved one or a stranger. The chances are that the actions of a stranger will reside largely in the conscious mind, whereas those of a loved one would be more entrenched in the subconscious spirit. Often the spirit takes longer to cleanse.
Forgiveness, therefore, is a great way to save time and is definitely beneficial for the person carrying the charge; The person waiting to ‘get’ – an apology, a reversal, revenge, or whatever. The person who is expected to give these things, at times might not even be aware that the hopeful receiver expects that. So the chances of the ‘perpetrator’ being hurt are slim.
Now that we share the understanding that forgiveness is essentially a cleansing of one’s own inner space, I would urge anyone harboring ill-will to imagine that they were to die the next day. Would they like to die with that debilitating energy inside them? Or would they prefer to die knowing that there is nothing more to get/gain? Thinking of life in the latter sense makes it easy to acquire perspective and forgive without struggle. This is the power of acknowledging our impermanence.