Friday, February 27, 2009

The Ultimate Stress Test: What Do You See?

What do you see in in the above photo, hmmmm? It's a stress test: if you see anything but 2 dolphins there, you are stressed. If you happen to see a cow too, you are VERY stressed.

I see the cow. I must be having an especially tough week.

And as the comedian and actress Lily Tomlin tells us, "Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it."

Sage observation with a grin, no? Deep within my own personal maelstroms, I've often remembered this quote and been able to laugh. Authentic laughter cleans out the pipes.

But how many of us get truly bent out of our frames when what's in front of us doesn't match what we think "should" be there?

Yes, we stress. And nearly everyone I've shown the photo to also sees the cow! Is reality the true cause of our stress, though? Or is there something amiss in how we're perceiving things?

Also, how many of us keep as wide a berth as possible between our consciousness and actual reality?

I remember giving a talk about human defense mechanisms to some psychiatric residents one time. We humans have many [often unconscious] ways to twist, turn, and sanitize reality so that we can stand it. On that day we were exploring our repertoire.

In the middle of the discussion, one of the residents raised his hand and asked, "What's wrong with reality? Why can't we just let it be what it is?"

What a wonderful observation, since these 14 words express a basic problem of the entire human race! At the time I simply answered, "Well, it would be too painful otherwise."

The idea is that our unconscious defenses try to make life easier for us, but they actually complicate it. Psychotherapy helps us learn about our own personal coping styles, see reality more clearly, and deal with it more effectively. Hopefully, this also lessens the fear and anxiety many of us live with.

Years later I learned that in Ho'oponopono also, the cause of our stress is indeed our perceptions -- skewed as they are by memories and stories ingrained in us.

Each of us comes into the world with certain stories wrapped around us. After all, our parents and their families had ideas, feelings, hopes, opinions and maybe even dreams about what we'd be like. Life only gets more complex from there, as these stories permeate us and we also develop aspects of our own!

Ho'oponopono holds that humans can't help but have distorted views: it's part of our nature. The bigger the gap between what we experience and what's actually present, the bigger the "stress". Sometimes we live our lives completely in a delusional dream (or "daymare").

There are consequences to such distortions and resultant stress, along with our attempts to avoid or re-do what is.

Medical science has a whole literature on stress and health, and the "mind-body connection" is in popular lingo. My professional life involves helping people gradually discover their own misperceptions*, and how this unique state expresses in their bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits. Homeopathic remedies help disperse the turmoil this causes, allowing people (and animals too!) more freedom to be themselves.

It's no coincidence that Morrnah Simeona wrote about "thought forms" such as anger, addiction, and fear proceeding from less concentrated, "etheric" levels into more consolidated physical ones. She taught that cleaning through Ho'oponopono could interrupt this process and allow the thought forms (memories, data) to be transmuted. In this way, even physical illness could be dissipated.

My friend Jimmy Piver has been writing a lot lately about The Work of Byron Katie, whose pithy questions help us untangle our perceptions. Her processes work hand-in-hand with Ho'oponopono, and people seem to arrive at similar places of peace and acceptance with each.

However, with the updated form of Self-Identity through Ho'oponopono we don't have to track down each distortion. All we apparently need to to is initiate the Ho'oponopono process of making things right. In this we choose to accept responsibility for our experiences. Then we say to Divinity, "I'm sorry. I don't know what's going on within me that this is showing up in my reality, but please forgive me. Thank you for showing me it was there, so I can let it go. I love you."

If we're seeing others or situations as anything other than perfect as they are, we're arguing with reality.

In Byron Katie's work, people progress to deeper and deeper inquiry about their own misperceptions; in the long run they end up with less of these and more acceptance of life. The title of her first book, "Loving What Is" expresses this perfectly.

Ho'oponopono helps us live more peacefully also, even when those cows are jumping alongside dolphins. :-)

Peace Begins with Me,

*PS: doctors have misperceptions too . . . and thank heavens we can do Ho'oponopono, do Byron Katie's Work, have therapists and homeopaths of our own, or have kids. Kids can be great teachers about this.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ho'oponopono Cleaning Tools Wherever We Find Them

Ho'oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian process for resolving problems and releasing -- not just "managing" -- stress. Its very name means "to make right, to correct and rectify errors" through repentance, forgiveness, and transmutation.

Ho'oponopono re-establishes correct balance between all aspects of the self, with all other beings through time, and with the environment as well.

Need for this kind of balance is echoed throughout many cultures, including the Navajo who speak of "hozho", or "walking in beauty". For them, there is no real health without balance between all parts of one's inner self, one's relationships with others, and the environment.

Since we're all dynamic, ever-changing beings, is it any wonder our balance is an ever-changing thing also? We're like mobiles, motion in one part setting off gyrations in all the rest. We need some kind of process to keep us graceful throughout.

With its simplicity and directness, Ho'oponopono offers a path to peace. And, it can be fun!

Many have heard the words "I love you," "Thank you," "I'm sorry," and "Please forgive me" in Ho'oponopono. There are also many other "tools" that offer additional ways to initiate the process.

For instance, in her book The Easiest Way, Mabel Katz has talked about tools such as "lightswitch," "ice blue", and "flypaper." They may sound a little funny, but thinking any of these mentally invokes the entire Ho'oponopono process just like saying the "I love you." You can find tools that resonate with you, or which come to you personally through Inspiration.

On another Ho'oponopono call with ZeroLag recently, I learned of the tool "lemon drop". (ZeroLag has a web site offering Ho'oponopono conversations with long-time practitioners such as Kamaile and Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len.) Something about this "lemon drop" touched me in a good way . . . and felt warmly familiar.

Then today for some reason I felt inspired to listen to the much-loved Hawaiian singer, IZ (short for Israel Kamakawiwo'ole ) sharing his beautiful rendition of "Over the Rainbow" combined with "What a Wonderful World".

Below is his video . . . for me it's a cleaning tool in itself. You can listen, enjoy, and pay attention to the lyrics. In all my years of loving this song, I had missed something important with the words -- and maybe you did too?

Did you hear him sing:

"Someday I'll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me ee ee eeh
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
High above the chimney tops, that's where you'll find me . . ."

Hearing this, I started to giggle and laugh like a little kid. Understand, I am clueless about the actual origin of the Ho'oponopono lemon drop tool, but this result works for me! So I offer this experience to you, too, if it feels right -- to listen as often as you want, cleaning away, and maybe eating a lemon drop or two. It might even be good for our hearts, to be open and laughing like that. :-)

Thank you, IZ, and thank you Kamaile, Keala, Dr. Hew Len, and all the wonderful Ho'oponopono folk at ZeroLag.

May all our troubles melt like lemon drops,

Peace Begins with Me

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Koala Rescue: Divine Inspiration

The deadliest wildfires in Australia's history have destroyed many acres, homes, and lives this week.

In the midst of such horror, Divine Inspiration comes through in the above photo of a tired, parched koala being offered a drink by volunteer fireman David Tree. Taken by another volunteer with a cell phone camera, the photo captures a moment of uncomplicated Love in action.

The koala was walking on scorched paws in a charred forest near Melbourne. Seeing that she was in trouble, the fireman pulled over his truck. The koala "plonked herself down, as if to say, 'I'm beat', " recounted Tree. He offered her a drink from a water bottle -- and "the most amazing part was when she grabbed my hand. I will never forget that."

Now nicknamed "Sam", she is recuperating at Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter in Victoria state. Although badly burned, she is healing well -- and even has a protective new boyfriend named "Bob". Burned also, he apparently puts his arm around her for tender loving care. The two share the same cage at the shelter.

Living high in eucalyptus trees, koalas usually escape wildfires by climbing higher out of reach of the flames. But these fires were so intense that whole trees were bursting into flames at once.

Along with at least 180 humans, millions of animals have perished. Relief workers are scrambling to save the ones they can.

Tree and his colleagues were doing backburning work when they found "Sam". Visiting her later at the animal shelter, he got teary-eyed on seeing his little friend again. Though looking fuzzy and "cute", koalas are known to growl and have sharp claws. So this encounter in the wild was quite unusual . . . but this was a very unusual time. "Who knows if she recognized me or not, but I would like to think so," said Tree.

Fires are still burning near Healesville, north of Melbourne. I can't help but wonder about the name of the place, where healing is so needed right now.

Little Sam in the photo teaches us about the spirit of Life, and David Tree does exactly what he is called to do. He could have kept on driving, but he didn't. To me, that's Inspiration. Thank you Divinity, David Tree, and "Sam".

Peace Begins with Me,

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Walking on the Clouds with Ho'oponopono

Living in a land full of sunshine, I have long appreciated clouds. Blue skies are certainly beautiful too . . . but I've noticed that it's actually the clouds which make light dance in the sky.

Would that we could appreciate our seeming problems so easily, saying "Thank you!" when they appear. After all, now they're up for healing.

On this week's Thursday night call, Mabel Katz read an excerpt from the book, Prison to Praise by Merlin Carothers. It concerned the author's vision of a bright, sunshiney day, with a raft of black clouds just above. A ladder pushed upward through these clouds, and people were trying to climb up because they'd heard that above the clouds was something more beautiful than any had ever seen. They would climb and climb, get lost and disoriented in the dark clouds, and then slide back down the ladder into the crowd below.

Finally the author's turn to climb arrives. He climbs the ladder into the clouds where the darkness becomes so intense it nearly forces him back down. But step by step he continues . . . and suddenly, "my eyes beheld the most intense brightness I had ever seen. It was a glorious whiteness too brilliant to describe in words."

He then finds that he can walk on top of the clouds easily. But as soon as he looks down to examine the nature of the clouds he's walking on, he begins to sink. "Only by looking at the brightness could I stay on the top."

The more intense light above all this is shining continuously, and represents the heavenly kingdom. It can be reached only by focusing on it rather than the clouds (the "problems"). In the author's vision, God tells him that no matter how difficult it is to trust him to look after his life, to "keep clinging to the ladder of praise and move upward."

This is a little like the Law of Attraction, and also like Ho'oponopono. Focusing on the "problem" (the clouds) brings more of what we don't want -- more pain, drama, upset, etc. It engages us in all that. Doing the Ho'oponopono process, using whatever tools seem appropriate, keeps us focused on the cleaning rather than getting lost in memories -- which is all these problems are anyway.

Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len was a surprise guest this evening, and was kind enough to answer questions. So I asked him about the family situation I've been stewing over these past few months. Might there be something in particular I can do to clean in me about this?

"What I get," he said thoughtfully, "is that you should enlist the help of your inner child. I mean talk to it, and say, 'Here's what's up, here's what we're experiencing -- and we know it's just information, memories replaying. If we can clean it up, our father will find, and our mother will find whatever place they need to be. But we have to clean it up! We have to look inside of ourselves and work on those memories that we are experiencing as them. And if we let those memories go, the solution will come."

"Let me give you an example," Dr. Hew Len added. Then he described someone concerned about their mother, who lived with other relatives whose house was being foreclosed on . . . and had nowhere else to go. With the cleaning, the mother suddenly got an invitation to come stay with a wealthy cousin in her native country for a couple of months -- a solution no one had thought of. Continuing with the cleaning, the woman was then invited to live permanently with still another cousin in Hawaii.

"Who'd have thought of those things?!" Dr. Hew Len started laughing (and I did too). "We're so stuck in the data and we're not cleaning, so the Divinity can't respond to us!"

He continued, "The idea is, if we don't get to the cleaning, it's like the short stories of Chekhov -- it's a stage, and it's a replay! So while you're telling me about your father and stepmother, I am cleaning what's going on in me that you're telling me about them . . . because I don't want this memory to replay in me. So you have to be willing, your sister has to be willing, SOMEBODY has to be willing to shut the memories down that replay on the stage of life."

"Shakespeare said we're all on a huge stage, and we all got stuck in our roles. But we can cancel the roles! So you and I, somebody's got to get to canceling the roles that we play, the programs that we play. If we don't get to them, they replay over and over and over again. I don't want my programs to play over and over again. I'm going to be 70 and I think I want to give them up!" [more laughter]

"So I would enlist that subconscious. Ask it, 'Help me with this. I know I've been holding on, but please . . . ' You can teach it about the cleaning. Tell it 'I love you'. If you program that subconscious, it will do the cleaning non-stop while you're sleeping. But you've got to ask it! It's in you . . . . and you've got to shut it down in you!! If you do that, you cannot believe how the world will change. Your father will find the right place, and your stepmother will. I have just seen these things happen if I am willing to clean. If I don't clean, wooooh! They play over and over and over again."

We had still another laugh over often being at this "woooooh!" stage with many issues, maybe forming a "woooooh" club for those of us with more pervasive stuff to clean. :-)

Through this conversation, I felt lighter, laughing about things I couldn't laugh about only a few minutes earlier. It felt like walking on the clouds in Mabel's reading, rather than sinking down in the muck.

Clouds can be scary if we're afraid of storms . . . or they can be the backdrop for some amazing light shows. For me now, they're also symbols of "what's up" for cleaning, and reminders to say "Thank you!" for the opportunity.

Peace Begins with Me,