Sunday, August 31, 2008

Listening, compassion, and Ho'oponopono

Becoming a doctor isn't only about attending medical school, graduating, and passing licensure exams. It's also a process of learning to engage with others in a healing way, even when they're feeling their worst. We may think we have little in common with our patients, yet this is an error.

Histories need to be taken, tests and procedures may need to be done, and through it all patients needs to know we comprehend and care about them. I used to think they wouldn't know unless I told them in words, but over the years this has changed. There are many ways to be present when someone is suffering.

One of the most potent of these is also one of the simplest: listening. I mean listening without inserting our point of view, related experience, or advice. This is very difficult for many people, yet ho'oponopono offers a way to keep our minds still while genuinely hearing another. At least it does so for me.

My colleague Rachel Naomi Remen MD is a pediatrician, counselor, speaker, author, and the director of Institute for the Study of Health and Illness in Bolinas, CA. She developed "The Healer's Art", an elective course now run in over 60 medical schools. Having dealt with her own Crohn's Disease for many years, she also knows what it's like to be a patient. In one of her wonderful books, Kitchen Table Wisdom, Dr. Remen writes:

Just Listen
Rachel Naomi Remen, MD

"I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. And especially if it's given from the heart. When people are talking, there's no need to do anything but receive them. Just take them in. Listen to what they're saying. Care about it. Most times caring about it is even more important than understanding it. Most of us don't value ourselves or out love enough to know this. It has taken me a long time to believe in the power of simply saying, "I'm so sorry," when someone is in pain. And meaning it.

One of my patients told me that when she tried to tell her story people often interrupted to tell her that they once had something just like that happen to them. Subtly her pain became a story about themselves. Eventually she stopped talking to most people. It was just too lonely. We connect through listening. When we interrupt what someone is saying to let them know that we understand, we move the focus of attention to ourselves. When we listen, they know we care. Many people with cancer talk about the relief of having someone just listen.

I have even learned to respond to someone crying by just listening. In the old days I used to reach for the tissues, until I realized that passing a person a tissue many be just another way to shut them down, to take them out of their experience of sadness and grief. Now I just listen. When they have cried all they need to cry, they find me there with them.

This simple thing has not been that easy to learn. It certainly went against everything I had been taught since I was very young. I thought people listened only because they were too timid to speak or did not know the answer. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well intentioned words."

Before people come to my office, I spend a few moments with my own responses to their names, cleaning with whatever in me is related to their suffering. I am asking Divinity to help me be present with this, so that it may be released from me and from them too. I know I don't know the whole story, but this preparation seems to help me listen more compassionately to whatever patients need to say.
There is no particular outcome I am seeking, only to be present. While they are speaking, I can continue to work silently with myself, so that I can simply receive them. All the pain and troubles they share are opportunities for me to let go, also.

I never thought of patients' problems as opportunities before, but they are. Although we are in separate bodies, my patients and I draw from the same ancestral memory bank. That these people have come to me for assistance means that something we share is up for healing in us both. Ho'oponopono has taught me this. It also gives me a simple way of remaining quiet, present, and listening as people share their suffering -- which is also mine.

I hope this makes me a more compassionate doctor when people come to see me. Hopefully it also frees me to do or say what will benefit them most, even when that is to simply listen.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ho'oponopono and your health: is enlightenment right for you?

People with high blood pressure (hypertension) often struggle with medications, side effects, and stress. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were something people could do to help themselves with this, besides take pills?

There is. In fact, there are many ways.

For instance, stress reduction programs such as meditation have a growing research base documenting improvements in both hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Rainforth et al recently published a review and meta-analysis of this work * In this review, transcendental meditation showed particularly positive results.

Additionally, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction has more than 2 decades of research in stress-related illness. People take an 8-week course to learn to appreciate and modulate their inner responses, relating directly to whatever is happening in their lives. The same skills can help people with hypertension, chronic pain, anxiety, angina, bowel complaints, psoriasis, and many other conditions.

Self-Identity through Ho'oponopono, a spiritual intervention developed in Hawaii to identify and relieve stress, has also been shown effective in helping hypertensive people reduce their blood pressure. Kikikipa Kretzer PhD et al documented this through a pilot study published in Ethnicity and Disease Journal, "Self identity through ho'oponopono as adjunctive therapy for hypertension management".**

Earlier this year, I wrote a brief article about Ho'oponopono and hypertension as well. The word "Ho'oponopono" means "to correct errors -- memories replaying problems -- in the conscious and subconscious minds." Kretzer et al's study compared groups of people taking medications only with those both using medications and attending Ho'oponopono classes. Systolic BP in the latter group averaged almost 12 mm Hg below pre-intervention levels. Diastolic BP decreased also.

It's beautiful that people can learn a simple process to deal so effectively with problems on a moment-to-moment basis -- and that effects can be measured in our blood vessels. I'm thinking maybe heart rate variability might be an interesting measure as well. People love looking at the results of their efforts in charts and graphs -- every little bit helps!

Dr. Kretzer and Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len offered classes in Self-Identity through Ho'oponopono for hypertensive people this past February, through University of Hawaii at Manoa. Well-attended both "live" and via distance education on Kauai and the Big Island (in Hilo and West Hawaii), the classes shared information from the study and also trained participants to use the process for themselves.

Interested in how Ho'oponopono classes might help you with your own health? University of Colorado at Colorado Springs on Saturday 9/27/08 will be your next opportunity to learn this information from Drs. Kretzer and Hew Len. Class runs from 9:30 - 4:30 pm, with lunch served; Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences is the venue. For further information, you're welcome to contact Dr. Kretzer at or 719-262-4095.

Word is getting out: people really can help themselves with simple interventions like this. And that will help your doctor's blood pressure go down too. :-)

*Rainforth MV et al: Stress reduction programs in patients with elevated blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Curr Hypertens Rep 2007 December; 9(6):520-528.

**Kretzer K et al. Self Identity Ho'oponopono as adjunctive therapy for hypertension management. Ethnicity and Disease Journal. 2007;17(4):624-628.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Seeking clarity: who am I, and what is my purpose?

I can hardly think of 2 questions more frequently posed by fellow humans than these two:

  • Who am I?

  • What is my task, or purpose in this world?
We struggle and strain for answers, often deliberating for years. We get embroiled in conflict between what we think we "should" be (or "should" want to do), and what we actually are.

Like many, I've struggled with how best to contribute to this world. Why take up space and resources unless I serve a useful purpose that also feels meaningful to me? Only through the latter will I have "juice" for sticking with the former. What, if anything, do I want to leave behind after I'm no longer here in the flesh?

Such inner questions have been agonizing at times.

But in 29 words, Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len puts things in place for me. He writes:

"memories displace identity and therefore freedom pam. cleaning restores identity and therefore freedom. our only purpose for existence is to clean to be memory free, no more, no less."

Unclarity results when I'm tied up in memory-knots, so much that I forget who I really am. The various parts of me get so disconnected from each other that only what is not me (the collective data, or "garbage") seems to assert itself.

In Self-Identity through Ho'oponopono, the term "cleaning" doesn't mean we ourselves are "dirty". It refers to the idea that our essential nature -- unity with the Divine, however one might understand that -- is obscured or clouded with stuff that may be billions of generations old, yet is not us. "Cleaning", or using the processes taught by Dr. Hew Len, Mabel Katz, Kamailelaui'i, and the Foundation of I, releases these memories or data that cloud us -- even our sense of ourselves.

In this way we go from cloudy to clear, and Inspiration can enter. Our natural inner Peace can arise once more.

The other delicious part is the sense of freedom possible when we feel basically okay and at peace no matter what is happening.

Only 29 words, and Dr. Hew Len set me straight. Mahalo from the bottom of my heart, Dr. Hew Len.

Peace Begins with Me,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Can we trust our eyes?

"We don't see people as they actually are. We see our reactions to them." ~ Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len

Most of the time I am not seeing clearly. This is one of the most life-changing realizations Self-Identity through Ho'oponopono brings home to me. When I look at others, what am I seeing? According to Dr. Hew Len, mostly my own dusty memories.

And those often distort and complicate things.

Dr. Hew Len echoes one of my classical homeopathy teachers, Dr. Rajan Sankaran of Mumbai India, when he reminds us that there is no "out there" at all.

Please understand: getting this has bugged me. I'm a psychiatrist, trained to value my observational abilities. The conventional psychiatry paradigm includes a distinct "I" who objectively views people and events "outside" of me. And then I classify my observations through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM IV-TR).

Neat. Simple. Often wrong, even among other psychiatrists. Always wrong, according to Ho'oponopono and Dr. Sankaran. Our observations, no matter how objective they seem to us, are always skewed by our inner delusions -- another way of saying, "memories".

It's important to note the "TR" included in the DSM-IV title: it means "Text Revision." The book delineating how psychiatrists, psychologists, and other therapists are to view the patients they treat, is continually being revised.

Is nothing sacred? Nothing really real?

I acknowledge these clashes, and have struggled with them. This system classifying and naming mental illness that I have learned and used for so many years attempts to describe something we don't really understand at all. According to ho'oponopono, there could be innumerable layers on top of what we think we're seeing -- each distorting it a little more. Dr. Sankaran has a little different idea about this, but the end result is: we're still skewed.

Views of Ho'oponopono can be complicated also. However, Saul Maraney, an acquaintance in South Africa, created a video several months ago that in less than 10 minutes, simplifies this. With a very scenic and cleansing backdrop, Maraney describes the history, viewpoint, and process of Self-Identity through Ho'oponopono, as revised and taught by Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona and the Foundation of I, Inc. You'll hear a few ho'oponopono phrases in the background, as Maraney narrates. Enjoy. For me it's a step towards peace -- even while it thoroughly undoes my world.

Ho'oponopono Simplified
by Saul Maraney, South Africa

Peace Begins with Me,

Friday, August 15, 2008

The demonic virus that ate my computer: a wake-up call for life

Laptop computers have been my steady companions over the past several years. Some have worn out, and each is a little different. Computers have personalities and quirks just like their human counterparts.

In some ways, computer hard drives can be likened to our minds. A great deal of this is unconscious. Programs run in the background that we never "see" except through their outer functions. Also, there are hidden files galore that can click into action.

Computers can also pick up programs that devastate them completely. Antivirus and antispyware programs try to protect us from these things. Fortunately, I've had only one virus infection in over 10 years -- until this week.

It was in an "update" email from CNN. My guard was down, and I opened it. Within seconds, my antivirus program screamed a warning: too late. I immediately felt sick to my stomach.

An alien force seized control of my hard drive, downloading ill-begotten infestations. Odd messages spewed from my desktop: Antivirus XP 2008 is scanning your computer!! I'd never seen this "program" before, yet its icons and styling were identical to Windows. It flashed red colors like an enraged animal: 3000+ viruses need cleaning immediately!

Then it recommended its $50 "upgrade" in order to accomplish this. Not buying that, I tried to clean It, instead.

Of course, It wouldn't uninstall. The process kept aborting only part-way through. My computer and I were hostage in my own office! Words like "rogue" and "trojan" spilled from my spyware scans, and I deleted these files as fast as I could. But with each deletion, more rogue files appeared.

How could this be? Was It alive, having intelligence? It was tenacious, refusing to die.

Antivirus XP 2008 next commandeered my desktop so that only It showed on a Blue Screen of Death. No other program or button peeked through. This alien being even deleted my computer's "Restore" points, making it impossible to go back to a time before It erupted into my life.

Is this like our human lives sometimes, or what? I'm thinking Post-traumatic Stress Disorder here. Something happens, and we're never the same since.

I labored through the night, trying to undo The Thing. I grew angry, exasperated, and yet ashamed of having fallen prey to its cannibalistic Presence. Every time I deleted too many of its files its messages grew flashier, more insistent -- with a buzzer announcing more and more infections.

We wrestled, this Beast and I. I would scan with my own (normal) software, delete rambunctious viral files, and feel temporarily victorious when my computer said it was "clean". In the next moment, Antivirus XP flashed its continued presence on top of the "clean" report! Linda Blair in "The Exorcist" came to mind, her demonic voice defying the priests.

It was a complete nightmare, decimating the book chapter I'd been writing on a deadline.

By morning, I was frazzled. My computer and I needed serious help, which I in my turmoil forgot was available. But it turns out there's a Data Doctors shop nearby. Exhausted, I schlepped in both my machine and my personal issues. The Data Doctors shook their heads sadly. They knew this Beast: it had shattered many other computers and their people the previous week.

Cleaning would be tedious, they gently explained. But there was a workable process to it, and this could be followed step by step.

They needed to take out my hard drive, and scan it through an uninfected machine. Then they would scout out every hidden virus particle in every hidden file, and repair every registry change Antivirus XP had made in my system. Then they would recheck, and probably have to scan it several more times. This exorcism would require many hours of their labor -- a complete overhaul of my hard drive.

The analogy with ho'oponopono cleaning of my own inner "hard drive" FINALLY made it through my nearly impermeable intellect. A step-by-step, moment-to-moment process for cleaning errors, restoring things to "zero" or peace. Duh! I am a silly, too-proud human, who sometimes doesn't turn to the Help that's available. I can get so immersed in the "problem" that it doesn't cross my mind to ask. And when this happens, some rogue thing that is not really me is in charge -- just like Antivirus XP made itself Administrator of my computer.

Thanks to the Data Doctors, my computer is now free of demonic possession. They also installed a new antivirus program on it, different from the one I had. It's like having something that remembers to clean when we humans, in our brilliance, don't.

Some of us need all the reminders we can get. Call them wake-up calls. So thank you, whoever created Antivirus XP 2008. You reminded me that I've got plenty more hidden files inside me, awaiting opportunities to clean and erase.

Fortunately, there's a ho'oponopono conference call with Mabel Katz and Kamailelauli'i, 8/19/08. This I know for sure: it'll be much more helpful than any updates from CNN. It, too, will be a wake-up call.

You're welcome to join us on the phone that evening. You can listen as Kamaile and Mabel, both very experienced with ho'oponopono, share their insights. Also, you can ask your questions! For your convenience, you can sign up directly here: Register for 8/19/08 call.

Peace Begins with Me,

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Cleaning" -- with a little help from a friend

A friend and colleague, Lucinda Sykes MD in Toronto, sent me a beautiful story the other day about a diver's encounter with a manta ray off the coast of Maui. In it, the author (Jennifer Anderson) is able to free the ray of fishing hooks and line wrapped around and embedded in its body . . . not unlike we humans can be entangled and dragging painful things along in our lives.

Dr. Sykes is a Jungian therapist and meditation teacher whose Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes train people to be present to their moment-to-moment lives. Through this they can free themselves of chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, stress, and many other conditions.

It's no accident Dr. Sykes would notice such a story in the world and share it with me. It originally comes from the book: Chicken Soup for the Ocean Lover's Soul. I offer it to you in the ho'oponopono spirit of "cleaning" and being free.

by Jennifer Anderson

It was like many Maui mornings, the sun rising over Haleakala as we greeted our divers for the day's charter. As my captain and I explained the dive procedures, I noticed the wind line moving into Molokini, a small, crescent-shaped island that harbors a large reef. I slid through the briefing, then prompted my divers to gear up, careful to do everything right so the divers would feel confident with me, the dive leader.

The dive went pretty close to how I had described it: The garden eels performed their underwater ballet, the parrot fish grazed on the coral, and the ever-elusive male flame wrasse flared their colors to defend their territory. Near the last level of the dive, two couples in my group signaled they were going to ascend. As luck would have it, the remaining divers were two European brothers, who were obviously troubled by the idea of a "woman" dive master and had ignored me for the entire dive.

The three of us caught the current and drifted along the outside of the reef, slowly beginning our ascent until, far below, something caught my eye. After a few moments, I made out the white shoulder patches of a manta ray in about one hundred and twenty feet of water.

Manta rays are one of my greatest loves, but very little is known about them. They feed on plankton, which makes them more delicate than an aquarium can handle. They travel the oceans and are therefore a mystery.

Mantas can be identified by the distinctive pattern on their belly, with no two rays alike. In 1992, I had been identifying the manta rays that were seen at Molokini and found that some were known, but many more were sighted only once, and then gone.

So there I was: a beautiful, very large ray beneath me and my skeptical divers behind. I reminded myself that I was still trying to win their confidence, and a bounce to see this manta wouldn't help my case. So I started calling through my regulator, "Hey, come up and see me!" I had tried this before to attract the attention of whales and dolphins, who are very chatty underwater and will come sometimes just to see what the noise is about. My divers were just as puzzled by my actions, but continued to try to ignore me.

There was another dive group ahead of us. The leader, who was a friend of mine and knew me to be fairly sane, stopped to see what I was doing. I kept calling to the ray, and when she shifted in the water column, I took that as a sign that she was curious. So I started waving my arms, calling her up to me.

After a minute, she lifted away from where she had been riding the current and began to make a wide circular glide until she was closer to me. I kept watching as she slowly moved back and forth, rising higher, until she was directly beneath the two Europeans and me. I looked at them and was pleased to see them smiling. Now they liked me. After all, I could call up a manta ray!

Looking back to the ray, I realized she was much bigger than what we were used to around Molokini - a good fifteen feet from wing tip to wing tip, and not a familiar-looking ray. I had not seen this animal before. There was something else odd about her. I just couldn't figure out what it was.

Once my brain clicked in and I was able to concentrate, I saw deep V-shaped marks of her flesh missing from her backside. Other marks ran up and down her body. At first I thought a boat had hit her. As she came closer, now with only ten feet separating us, I realized what was wrong.

She had fishing hooks embedded in her head by her eye, with very thick fishing line running to her tail. She had rolled with the line and was wrapped head to tail about five or six times. The line had torn into her body at the back, and those were the V-shaped chunks that were missing.

I felt sick and, for a moment, paralyzed. I knew wild animals in pain would never tolerate a human to inflict more pain. But I had to do something.

Forgetting about my air, my divers and where I was, I went to the manta. I moved very slowly and talked to her the whole time, like she was one of the horses I had grown up with. When I touched her, her whole body quivered, like my horse would. I put both of my hands on her, then my entire body, talking to her the whole time. I knew that she could knock me off at any time with one flick of her great wing.

When she had steadied, I took out the knife that I carry on my inflator hose and lifted one of the lines. It was tight and difficult to get my finger under, almost like a guitar string. She shook, which told me to be gentle. It was obvious that the slightest pressure was painful.

As I cut through the first line, it pulled into her wounds. With one beat of her mighty wings, she dumped me and bolted away. I figured that she was gone and was amazed when she turned and came right back to me, gliding under my body. I went to work. She seemed to know it would hurt, and somehow, she also knew that I could help. Imagine the intelligence of that creature, to come for help and to trust!

I cut through one line and into the next until she had all she could take of me and would move away, only to return in a moment or two. I never chased her. I would never chase any animal. I never grabbed her. I allowed her to be in charge, and she always came back.

When all the lines were cut on top, on her next pass, I went under her to pull the lines through the wounds at the back of her body. The tissue had started to grow around them, and they were difficult to get loose. I held myself against her body, with my hand on her lower jaw. She held as motionless as she could. When it was all loose, I let her go and watched her swim in a circle. She could have gone then, and it would have all fallen away. She came back, and I went back on top of her.

The fishing hooks were still in her. One was barely hanging on, which I removed easily. The other was buried by her eye at least two inches past the barb. Carefully, I began to take it out, hoping I wasn't damaging anything. She did open and close her eye while I worked on her, and finally, it was out. I held the hooks in one hand, while I gathered the fishing line in the other hand, my weight on the manta.

I could have stayed there forever! I was totally oblivious to everything but that moment. I loved this manta. I was so moved that she would allow me to do this to her. But reality came screaming down on me. With my air running out, I reluctantly came to my senses and pushed myself away.

At first, she stayed below me. And then, when she realized that she was free, she came to life like I never would have imagined she could. I thought she was sick and weak, since her mouth had been tied closed, and she hadn't been able to feed for however long the lines had been on her. I thought wrong! With two beats of those powerful wings, she rocketed along the wall of Molokini and then directly out to sea! I lost view of her and, remembering my divers, turned to look for them.

Remarkably, we hadn't traveled very far. My divers were right above me and had witnessed the whole event, thankfully! No one would have believed me alone. It seemed too amazing to have really happened. But as I looked at the hooks and line in my hands and felt the torn calluses from her rough skin, I knew that, yes, it really had happened.

I kicked in the direction of my divers, whose eyes were still wide from the encounter, only to have them signal me to stop and turn around. Until this moment, the whole experience had been phenomenal, but I could explain it. Now, the moment turned magical.

I turned and saw her slowly gliding toward me. With barely an effort, she approached me and stopped, her wing just touching my head. I looked into her round, dark eye, and she looked deeply into me. I felt a rush of something that so overpowered me, I have yet to find the words to describe it, except a warm and loving flow of energy from her into me.

She stayed with me for a moment. I don't know if it was a second or an hour. Then, as sweetly as she came back, she lifted her wing over my head and was gone. A manta thank-you.

I hung in midwater, using the safety-stop excuse, and tried to make sense of what I had experienced. Eventually, collecting myself, I surfaced and was greeted by an ecstatic group of divers and a curious captain. They all gave me time to get my heart started and to begin to breathe.

Sadly, I have not seen her since that day, and I am still looking. For the longest time, though my wetsuit was tattered and torn, I would not change it because I thought she wouldn't recognize me. I call to every manta I see, and they almost always acknowledge me in some way. One day, though, it will be her. She'll hear me and pause, remembering the giant cleaner that she trusted to relieve her pain, and she'll come. At least that is how it happens in my dreams.


The story speaks to me not only because I love the communion between humans and other creatures. For me it's also about cleaning the "stuff" that entangles us -- such a poignant example, here! Ho'oponopono allows us to accomplish this in a kind, gentle, yet persistent way. It is tedious at times, and yet is a path to freedom.

Thank you, Dr. Sykes, for sharing this story and your work that helps set people free.

May we know the kind of patience with ourselves that Jennifer Anderson showed with this manta ray -- and may all beings be free of suffering too.


Peace Begins with Me

Friday, August 8, 2008

It's all in how you look at it

Recently I experienced a very challenging situation. (At least it seemed so to me.) I'd been asked to speak on a very controversial topic at a large conference in another city.

Wanting to share the material but also feeling anxious, I researched and prepared my presentation over many months. Travel arrangements solidified, and all seemed to be moving ahead.

But a few days before the conference, the chairman reported that its accrediting body had withdrawn physician Continuing Medical Education units.

Why? It turned out that the accreditation committee objected to certain presentations, including mine. Removing educational credit from the conference could severely discourage attendance.

This threw me into a tailspin. What to do? Shock, hurt, anger and fear roiled inside me; what kind of reception would there be for our talks? I briefly described the situation to Mabel Katz.

"Good for you!" she exclaimed.

"Good for me?! What are you talking about? I'm suffering, here!" my inner thoughts screamed. But I also listened carefully. Mabel's comment echoed Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len's on other occasions.

Are they insensitive? Not hearing me? Neither.

Mabel and Dr. Hew Len were only reminding me that I'm 100% responsible for all that appears in my life.

In ho'oponopono, every seeming "problem" is an opportunity to release from our inner databank the unconscious memories that manifest through outer events.

This is as much true for what we think we see in others as it is the emotions inside ourselves. After all, our perceptions are only collections of neurological information, which our cognitive brain interprets. Interpretations are as varied as we are -- or as varied as the memories we've collected over eons of time.

An analogy might be files on your computer's hard drive that aren't being used. Until they're opened, you may not realize they're present. Outer "problems" are like those files being clicked into action. Programs and operations are unleashed, sometimes wreaking havoc. We can decide either to experience all the contents, or simply delete the files. It all depends on how we interpret their usefulness. But without being alerted to their existence, we wouldn't have opportunity to decide.

So, "Good for me", indeed! I now had an opportunity to practice "cleaning" these memories showing up. To do this, I could use "I love you", "Thank you", or any other ho'oponopono cleaning 'tool' that I'm led to use.

Ho'oponopono also describes a complete connection between the part of me that holds these memories (Unihipili), the part that decides what to do with them (Uhane), and another part (Aumakua) that's always in direct synch with Divinity. I don't even have to understand the entire issue to start the cleaning process; in fact, I most likely cannot. It's layered, tangled, and knotted over generations and shared by countless others. What a relief that, through using my tools, I can invite Divinity to help release (or "clean") all this "muck" from me.

Ho'oponopono also holds that when one person releases such memories, they also come off everyone else. We can reduce our collective pile this way.

I chose to work with my ho'oponopono tools on this situation, and 'clean'. Surprisingly, my initially chaotic and stormy emotions calmed enough for me to make another decision.

I could have simply withdrawn my talk. But I decided to attend the conference despite the CME issue anyway. It seemed that if even one person got the information s/he paid for, my trip would be worthwhile. Another surprise: the audience responded very positively to us and our talks, even those to which the CME accreditors objected.

I'm thankful for these results so far, and wondering what the next "opportunity" will be. How do YOU see life? Full of problems, or opportunities? It's quite surprising to find that problems can actually set us all free.

If you'd like to learn more about this unusual -- but freeing -- way of viewing life, please consider signing up for Mabel Katz's conference calls or attending an event with the Foundation of I.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Self-Love and Beyond

Much of my daily work involves people who, for one reason or another, really don't care for themselves very much. This includes people in the role of "healer", "doctor", "nurse", and "therapist" as well as "patient".

Some may even feel extreme self-loathing and self-hatred -- but for most of us this is masked. Some escape these painful feelings through non-stop work, figuring that even if we aren't worth loving, we can at least be admired through our accomplishments. It's a compromise.

Other escapes include addiction to substances, or chasing after others to supply the love we feel we're missing. None of this ever fills our bottomless need.

Theories about how we arrive in such painful, desolate places are plentiful. More fruitful questions might be: "What can I do about this? How do I learn to first care for -- and eventually love -- myself?"

The short answer is that it takes a decision, and then moment-to-moment practice. Evy McDonald shared her methods in the article I posted the other day. Here's a quote (with my "bold" emphases):

"I went from self-hatred to self-acceptance and unconditional love. My body had never been right. I came in two sizes as a result of the childhood polio. I despised my body and wished it would just disappear. Outwardly I pretended to accept and love myself. So the problem wasn't totally in the hating of my body, but in the mixed messages I was sending myself. I could give up and just hate myself totally -- or learn to love myself totally. Because I had longed to experience unconditional love before I died, I chose to learn to love my body (which, thanks to the ALS,was now like a bowl of jello in a wheelchair!). Every day I would focus on some part of my body, praise it and love it. I also began to look at myself in a mirror and speak words of love and affection to my reflection. This was not an easy task. But, as a friend of mine says, "If you can fake it you can make it." So, at first I faked it. But, gradually the self-acceptance became real. Eventually, I found myself completely content with me and with my physical body. And, as my experience of love for myself deepened, I was finally able to love others as well as accept their love for me."

When I first heard about this mirror stuff many years ago, it sounded "woo-woo" to me. But I was wrong. Research indicates that our physiology responds to guided imagery and practices like this, sort of like mental rehearsals for an activity. Our brains don't differentiate between "real" and "make-believe".

Interestingly, in Ho'oponopono one of the most important practices is the moment-to-moment care of the child part of us, which houses all unconscious memories, feelings, and reactions.

Ho'oponopono tradition calls this inner child part the "Unihipili"; it requires gentle, loving attention or we experience great suffering. It is through the Unihipili that petitions for transmutation of painful memories can proceed.

People practicing ho'oponopono say there is a mother aspect of us ("Uhane") which can begin the process by deciding to say "I love you", "Thank you", "I'm sorry", etc. Through our Uhane, we can choose this route rather than engaging in or fighting with whatever problem or painful feeling is present. There's a father part also ("Aumakua") that is always in contact with the Divine. If all parts hold hands, we're aligned with Divinity.

When we say "I love you", not only does the child in us feel loved, but it's a way of affirming our connection with Divinity too. Once Divinity takes over, things shift even if we don't immediately see the results. It's an added bonus that my immune cells (and possibly much more) can respond in healthy ways! How beautiful to find multiple traditions converging on the same inner need, and more than one way of addressing it. Choices for everyone, right? Thank you, Evy, Mabel Katz and Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len.

Also, Greg Tamblyn graciously agreed to share the lyrics to his song about Evy (mahalo nui loa, Greg):

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE (The True Story of Evy McDonald)
(Greg Tamblyn)

Evy had a body like a bowl of jello in a wheelchair
Evy had a nerve disease all she could do was sit there
Evy was wasting away, muscles all in decay
She heard the doctor say, six months to live

Evy’d always said she hated her body she was overweight
And now a disease was making her thin what a twist of fate
She was almost out of time, but somewhere in her mind
There was something she had to find out if she could give

She said it’s something called unconditional love
Supposed to be really wonderful stuff
And if you can get enough, you can find peace
So in the time that I’ve got left
I’ve got to find some for myself
I believe unconditional love is what I need

Since all Evy could do was just sit in the wheelchair
Evy rolled it over and sat there in front of the mirror
She looked at her body and caught, every negative thought
And though there were a lot, she wrote ‘em all down

Now every day Evy would sit there naked at the mirror and look
Till she found one good thing about herself to write in her book
And after a few months time, her thoughts began to grow kind
And the negative words in her mind could not be found

She said it feels like unconditional love
And it’s really wonderful stuff
And if you can get enough, you can find peace
So in the time that I’ve got left
I’ve got to find some for myself
I believe unconditional love is what I need

But a funny thing happened when Evy started learning to love herself
The deterioration just stopped and reversed itself
And Evy was moving her arms and legs, and starting to feel
Yes a funny thing happened, Evy started to heal

First chorus

© 1991 Ramblin’ Tamblyn Music

May we all find our way home,

Peace Begins with Me

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Unconditional Love: The True Story of Evy McDonald

Yesterday I posted about Evy McDonald's recovery from ALS and how she did this. Since the context was ho'oponopono and hearing issues, the way Evy's inspirational story came up for me is rather uncanny.

I'd like to claim a superior command of academic literature and laserlike intellectual memory, but it had nothing to do with that.

Instead, it was due to a song.

While reading Jimmy Piver's story about hearing loss, within me I distinctly heard an old friend singing a song he had written and recorded about Evy. Really. Hearing that voice and the wonderful lyrics from several years ago, my heart swelled. My senses came alive.

This evoked a Google search, which produced the article I linked for you.

Please credit Greg Tamblyn, one of my favorite people and singer-songwriters anywhere, for haunting my musical consciousness. I've enjoyed his songs countless times, including cross-country car trips! And he created a real beauty in "Unconditional Love: The True Story of Evy McDonald" on his CD, "The Shootout at the I'm OK, You're OK Corral". This is the song-memory that arose inside me, and let me recall Evy.

Greg's music is a blend of humor and heart wisdom -- and this song is one that really struck home with me. Having it come up while reading about Jimmy's healing-in-process was no accident. The two situations resonated inside me, probably because I am healing too.

And Evy herself? Pastor Evelyn McDonald (RN, MS, and MDiv) is alive and well at Grace United Methodist Church in Newburgh, NY . Jimmy himself researched and found her. Science and spirit are one.

Thanks again, Greg. I love your music -- and Jimmy hopes to hear it too, one day.

Resonatingly yours,

Peace Begins with Me

Friday, August 1, 2008

Ho'oponopono and healing -- Something worth hearing

Many people wonder how ho'oponopono or other spiritual practices could help them with conditions such as hypertension, depression, and even hearing loss.

The September 2007 issue of Ethnicity and Disease published a study showing that adding classes in ho'oponopono helped hypertensive people improve their blood pressure more effectively than medications alone. It was a relatively small "pilot" study, but is a beginning in exploring what people might be able to accomplish through such processes. Others' experiences with ho'oponopono and their health situations fascinate and inspire me.

Jimmy Piver, one of my friends in North Carolina, has written about his own challenges with hearing loss in his blog "Ho'oponopono for Today". The post is titled: Why Hearing Loss and Deafness were Blessings: Or Why My Hearing Went South. He shares wisdom about mind-body interactions, how he feels these apply to him . . . and how ho'oponopono has helped him through all this.

Healing and cure may be very different. I have seen many people healed who were not necessarily cured; they may rebalance and feel whole even while still experiencing symptoms. This is certainly a gift in itself. But in some cases once this point of peace is reached, the symptoms themselves have resolved over time.

For instance, Evy McDonald RN, MS, MDiv is one of the first people ever to have reversed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) . This is a usually fatal illness, and she is now over 20 years in remission. Her intent was not to cure her disease, but to experience unconditional love for the first time in her life. Hers is a powerful story.

One of the graces of ho'oponopono is that we apparently don't need to know the full extent of the problem in order to invite Divinity's help in its release and transmutation.
Even better, we can ask Divinity's help in letting go of our reactions about the situation. That's where ho'oponopono says the real problem is anyway. Dr. Hew Len often reminds us: "Problems can be solved without knowing what the heck is going on!" What a wondrous relief.

My ears are always open for people's healing stories -- they're definitely worth hearing. Please pop on over to Jimmy Piver's blog to see what he's talking about.

Peace begins with me,