Saturday, June 1, 2013

Ho'oponopono Peace in Every Step

I've recently returned from a week-long, silent Vipassana (Insight Meditation) retreat.

Called "Convergence" and run by teachers and staff from Spirit Rock Meditation Center, it was held at the Angela Center near Santa Rosa, CA.  The "convergence" they spoke of was bringing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) together with the Buddha's teachings in vipassana tradition.  This usually doesn't happen so openly in MBSR courses, even though many teachers have personal experience with Buddhist practice.

My own private "convergence" included Ho'oponopono as well.  :-)

At its heart, Insight Meditation is the practice of mindful awareness in any moment. You can use anything -- breath, body sensations, emotions, sounds, etc. -- as foci of attention.  This tradition recognizes that the mind's productions are often comical and obsessive -- even sometimes tragic because they distract us from current experience.  It encourages us to notice these thoughts and reactions, but not grab onto any of them.  After all, they are not reality.  When our present-moment awareness lapses, we can always come back to the breath -- hundreds of times in a single 45-minute "sit," for some of us!

Ho'oponopono sees our thoughts as simply "data" or "memories," which are laden on top of what we truly are.  They are internal programs which run on their own.  We can't help having them, yet we are responsible for them.  They can also absorb our attention and run us, if we let them.  We can choose instead to "clean" with these memories -- letting them go, and asking Divinity to transmute them into pure light.

There's a simple process for doing this, which we can use in every moment.  It's what Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len and many other wonderful Ho'oponopono teachers with IZI, LLC teach at Ho'oponopono seminars.

During the "Noble Silence" held at the retreat, I was able to clean with Ho'oponopono as much as humanly possible for me.  Normal conversation, after all, was eliminated.  Of course, there was plenty of inner conversation needing to be released!  I'm not running out of memories to clean anytime soon -- yet I did experience some times of exquisite inner quietness and peace.

Ho'oponopono and mindfulness tradition share certain qualities, including the gentle compassion held towards the body.   Ho'oponopono tradition holds that our bodies are like our inner child, and need care and concern.  They hold eons of memories and data, which may show up as physical pains, illness, and overall suffering.  In mindfulness meditation there are "body scans," where you gently and without judgment review whatever experiences are present in your body.  It's like asking your Unihipili (Hawaiian Inner Child part) to tell you what it's feeling -- resulting in a more tender connection as you listen and observe.  Since our relationship with our Inner Child is the most important relationship we can ever have, nurturing this through a body scan or mindful yoga feels just right to me.

I love both traditions for their humility, and their care for all living things.  The Lovingkindness meditations found in vipassana are somewhat similar in feeling to the generosity and lovingness of "aloha spirit."   Dr. Hew Len once told me that Aloha means "in the presence and breath of God."  Greeting each other this way is acknowledging the Divinity in both of us.

In endowing all things with a 3-part identity, Ho'oponopono shows reverence for the entire planet -- down to the tiniest being.  As I moved about the Angela Center's grounds on my walking meditations, there were roses, honeysuckle, redwoods, kitties, lotuses, irises, rhododendrons, and lovely grass to enjoy.  In the buildings I could clean with walls, chairs, water, doors, and beds.  The practices of vipassana and Ho'oponopono are universal, and join people together in love for all things.

With love and gratitude to Morrnah Simeona, Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len,
Kamailelauli’I Rafaelovich, and all who have shown me the ways of Ho'oponopono. I carry these traditions wherever I go.  They have become my way of life.

Peace begins with me,