Saturday, August 22, 2009

Traditional Ho'oponopono and Morrnah's Transformation

Ho'oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian method for restoring harmony, solving problems, and releasing stress.

Traditionally, extended families used Ho'oponopono to "set things right" when conflict arose.* Moderated by a family elder or Kahuna Lapa'au (healer), this was like a large family conference where all could speak their hearts. But as Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len often mentions, its success required all family members to be present.

Depending on the issues involved, the entire process could be lengthy. But the steps would be outlined for everyone beforehand: they include prayer, stating the problem, discussion, confession of wrongdoing, restitution when needed, forgiveness, and release.

The Ho'oponopono began with a "pule" (prayer) asking God to help and bless the proceedings. The family and leader together would seek out the cause of the problem or conflict, which might be very complex.

The leader focused the conversation, exploring these hurts so transgressions ("hala") could be stated. Perpetrator and person wronged were bound together in a negative entanglement called "hihia"; this could extend outward into a complex knot involving an entire net of relationships. Freeing everyone from this was needed so that the family could relate healthily again.

The mediator also kept individuals from directly confronting one another, so as to avoid emotional outbursts and further hurt. When speaking their feelings, the emphasis was to be on self-scrutiny: examining one's own part in the problem. People were encouraged to share honestly, yet in a way that avoided blame and recrimination.

Using these guidelines, layer upon layer of trouble could be discovered, explored, and resolved, until family relationships were free and clear. Everyone could both forgive and be forgiven; each could release the other from entanglement. The process ended with a prayer, and also a meal together. In this way, relationships could be restored.

What a helpful process, if families do it often enough! What happens when conflicted families are separated by geographic distance, though?

Kahuna Lapa'au Morrnah Simeona updated and simplified this process for modern times as "Self Identity through Ho'oponopono". Rather than bringing together all human parties in a conflict, this updated process brings together all inner aspects of a single individual who contains the "problem" (memories within and running us) in the first place!

It's interesting that traditional Ho'oponopono involved a lot of talking and communicating -- clearing the air, so to speak. But the updated model doesn't require us to speak to anyone, just work within ourselves.

When we're full of old grudges, hurts, and resentments, it's no wonder that hurtful words come out of our mouths. The "gunk" becomes a chronic fog surrounding and permeating us -- making things worse with each utterance. What if instead of rehashing all those, we can ask Divinity within to release us and them? What if we can cut ties with ("kala") these resentments and their accompanying entanglements?

Imagine what it might be like if the next words we speak to others are loving, as a result of dealing with ourselves first?

My own life would be much smoother, no doubt. :-)

Morrnah's personal gifts were many; her ability to reconfigure the complex traditional Ho'oponopono process into this simplifed form was definitely one. The lengthier version can still be practiced as desired, but I'm grateful for Morrnah's resourcefulness. It means those who are far away from their families -- and without access to trained Ho'oponopono facilitators -- can still deal with these issues on their own.

Mahalo nui loa, dear Morrnah, and to Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, Mabel Katz, and others for continuing to teach us.

Peace begins with me,

PS: Those interested in downloadable recordings of Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len and Mabel Katz's most recent teleseminar may click here for more info.

*Shook, EV. Ho'oponopono: Contemporary Uses of a Hawaiian Problem-Solving Process. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2002.

*Pukui, MK, Haertig EW, and Lee CA. Nana I Ke Kumu (Look to the Source). Honolulu: Queen Lili'uokalani Children's Center, 1972.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Letter to a Fellow Physician and Ho'oponopono Colleague

A fellow physician wrote in on a Ho'oponopono message board recently, commenting that patients never seen before were showing up in need of emergency treatment. S/he wondered how s/he could possibly be responsible for all this, since it seemed to be happening outside of his/her influence?

Moreover, how could s/he shift these emergent situations into healing ones?

I empathize, for sure. Daily medical work draws all kinds of people with all kinds of scary situations to us in our offices, clinics, hospitals, and emergency rooms. How can Ho'oponopono help with things like this, or even with something as big as health care reform?

I surely don't have all the answers, but I cleaned with the questions. Something is going on in me that my colleague has this pain, and these questions.

Then I responded on the same message board. After a little editing, I thought to share this here as well:

Dear Dr. X,

Your questions are good ones, and are reasonable for anyone who wants to see in the "outer" world, what we're doing in our inner one. Like you, I'm a physician who uses Ho'oponopono . . . but my focus is not to "change" anything. My focus, as I have learned from Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, is to be with God. I know this may sound hokey to you, but it's true nevertheless.

The way I can be with God is to let go of whatever shared memories I carry that might be fogging things up, even though Divinity's light is always "on". When those memories are in the way, it makes it appear as if things in the present are less than "perfect" [like patients with problems, a health care system needing reform, or even my computer going dead].

I can acknowledge that I know nothing about what's going on with anyone, including myself. The drive-by shootings, health care reform, people with cancer, anxiety attacks, post-traumatic stress, automobile accidents -- I know nothing about any of that. God knows everything, though, because S/He created all of us.

Patients come to us when we have shared memories to clean. Why arrive in front of you, or me, or some other physician at a particular time? Of course they present for treatment, but they also bring opportunities to clean shared memories we'd be unaware of otherwise. Their presence is a gift, even though we might not know what to do with that sometimes.

So I can accept 100% responsibility for all that appears within my witnessing -- even though I don't know how it got there. I can recognize that some shared memory WITHIN ME -- which could be ages old, carried by generations, or even present in the land or building I share -- is resulting in what I now think I see.

I can apologize to Divinity within for being unconscious in that way, and ask for forgiveness. I can say to Divinity within, "I'm sorry, please forgive me for whatever is going on in me that my patient is in pain. Thank you for showing me that this is present in me, so I can let it go. I love you".

In short, I can "clean". There are all kinds of tools for that.

If I clean (rather than get wound up in the seeming mess), what's right and perfect [Inspiration] can come through for me and everybody else too. For me, this means that whatever work I do in medicine is likely to be more helpful than it would be if I tried to be "in charge" by myself (without cleaning or without Divinity's help). I can do and say no end of stupid things if I try to be in charge that way.

Believe me, I have more than ample evidence to support that claim.

I don't know why or how things are as they are, but I simply know that by cleaning, I am taking care of what's in me to do. In that context, I practice my art and my science the best I know how.

Others can do this also, if they wish -- no matter what kind of medicine they practice. We clean, and Divinity transmutes the trash in our memory banks -- as only Divinity can do. Inspiration can then come through.

I don't know how to measure "outcomes" with this process, but I keep doing it anyway. It gives my heart some peace while I do what is before me to do in each moment. We physicians are portals for suffering in the world, and have endless opportunities to practice Ho'oponopono while we practice medicine.

Good luck to you, and I'm so glad to have a colleague doing this along with me.

Peace of I to you,