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Healing Old Wounds with Ho'oponopono

The practice of Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian tradition in healing memories of the past in order to be aware, receptive, and loving in the present. This timeless practice is aimed at creating a new perspective in how one interacts with their environment. Using the simple phrase, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, and I love you,” creates an opening to heal old memories. Once used by the Hawaiian people to solve disputes among their community, the healing benefits of Ho’oponopono has been shared to create meaningful change in the world.

The purpose of Ho’oponopono is to heal negative memories, past grievances, and to shift one’s perception from a victim consciousness toward love and gratitude. The memories of the past help to create the present thought patterns. If there is conflict in the present, the solution is to make peace with actions from the past. Many years ago, my brother and I had a falling out. My sexuality was difficult for him to accept and even more difficult when I suggested his son may be similar. The conversation created a separation for my brother and I. After learning about Ho’oponopono, I have started the practice of healing.

“I’m sorry” is the first step in the process. By acknowledging one’s previous actions and asking for forgiveness, space is created for healing to occur. In my heart, I had to acknowledge my words and actions created harm for my brother. “Please forgive me” allows him to release his own grievances toward the situation and show mercy. “Thank you” gives witness to the mercy while bringing peace and serenity to the mind, body, and intellect. “I love you” expands compassion into adoration. Love is expressed for the healing, the lesson learned, the shift in perception, and is an affirmation for continued growth.

Sending love toward my brother and having compassion for him in the moment eases the tension of the situation. Although we have yet to rekindle our relationship, the once hostile emotions, the use of hateful speech, the need to prove a point, have faded away. Where love is present, Light flourishes. The practice of Ho’oponopono can be done every day and incorporated into any situation. In developing such a practice there is a shift from blaming others toward radical responsibility.

Radical responsibility is understanding that everything happening in one’s life is their own creation. Whether it is a joyful celebration or a painful setback, the thought patterns of an individual creates their surrounding environment. This is an easy concept to digest when events are seamless and positive; but is often dismissed during troubling times. The experience of my brother’s words was a mirror to the homophobia within myself. The prior year I “came out” and was still processing what it meant to be gay during our falling out. As angry as I was at his questions towards me, I must admit, they were questions I was asking myself.

Ho’oponopono is used to acknowledge one’s responsibility in creating the current sequence of events, to make amends, and heal from the experience. Developing such a practice takes ownership of past events and thought patterns while shifting the present and future toward a more harmonious state of being. This practice can be extremely humbling. However, what is gained from Ho’oponopono will have ripple effects far beyond what is seen. Having such far-reaching benefits, it is no wonder the Hawaiians practiced it to strengthen the bonds of their communities.

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