Over Thanksgiving I was listening to Joe Vitale and Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len's Zero Limits: The Secret Hawaiian System for Wealth, Health, Peace and More. The recording was done at one of their Zero Limits workshops and included audience questions. If you're not already familiar with it, The Secret Hawaiian System is known as Ho'oponopono and Dr. Len once used it to cure a mental ward of criminally insane patients without ever personally seeing any of the patients. Here is a link to Joe Vitale's blog entry about Dr. Hew Len and Ho'oponopono but, essentially Dr. Hew Len would look at each patient's chart and then clear on whatever came up within himself about what he read. He looked within himself to see how he created that person's illness. By clearing, he performed the Ho'oponopono meditation which is to repeat the words: I'm sorry, Please Forgive Me, I Love You and Thank you. After three years, Len's work was such a success that the unit was closed.
Ho'oponopono is one of the techniques I was taught during my coaching lessons and it is in the curriculum I share with my clients. Although I don't have anything as remarkable to report as an entire mental ward being closed down due to my efforts, it has been one of the clearing tools I use in my own life. Over the weekend, I felt like I understood Ho'oponopono a little bit better and although it feels a bit like juggling slippery goldfish, I want to attempt to explain some of my understanding here.
I had some resistance to Ho'oponopono in the beginning. Particularly to the words I'm sorry. At some point it had been explained to me:
When you say "I love you" ... you are touching compassion.
When you say "Thank you" ... you are touching gratitude.
When you say "I'm sorry" ... you are touching humility.
When you say "Please forgive me" ... you are touching sincerity.
I have no problem saying "I'm sorry." I have spent a lifetime of saying it. So when I would try to say it in connection with Ho'oponopono, it would get tangled up with a lifetime of baggage. The last time I told somebody that (my coaching coach) he once again explained that the "I'm sorry" was all about humility. I spent days asking myself if all of mine had been about humility.
humility: (noun) a modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness.
By definition, yes, my apologies were humble. The resistance stemmed more from who I was saying the words to rather than from where they were coming. First, I would say those words when a friend or acquaintance would tell me about something that was disturbing them. I would say "I'm sorry" to express my sympathy. Increasingly that was being met with, "Why? It's not your fault." Which was probably due to the second instance when I would say those words, when one of the people in my life who had convinced me I was responsible for his or her feelings would get upset. I said "I'm sorry" so often when trying to stem someone else's anger that it began to feel like I was apologizing for my very existence. Frequently when we use clearing methods, even though we are mostly meditating alone or talking to ourselves, it is when we perceive something is wrong or has happened. It was hard to separate the new Ho'oponopono "I'm sorry" from the earlier ones. I even questioned if I had inadvertently benefitted even though I had never understood the greater implications.
This weekend, what caught my attention was the talk about taking responsibility for our lives. The more I listened, the larger the concept grew and the more different it became from being responsible for how someone else feels.
My assumption is that most people who at some point during their adolescence used the words, "You made me ..." or "Look what you made me do" has heard the lecture that no one can "make" you do anything. You are personally responsible for your emotions and behavior. People may be unfair, unkind and unpleasant, but you are responsible for your own response. There is a meme that floats around the internet: How other people act is their karma. How you respond is yours.
It seems to me that most people think of karma as being a big bad deed boomerang. "What goes around, comes around." "You reap what you sow." During my internet surfing about the subject, I've learned there are two interpretations of karma. The first is the commonly held one I already mentioned, but the second is essentially that you will continue to be faced with the same life lessons until you have learned them. In other words, people will be who they are and you will experience the same people over and over, until you have learned how to respond to them. I would like to suggest Ho'oponopono is the kindest, gentlest, easiest, and most responsible way to respond to them.
In Zero Limits, Dr. Hew Len refers to the stuff you are clearing as "data." There is us and there is all this data. Others like Eckhart Tolle, using a model that is a bit more Buddhist in nature, have referred to what Len is calling data as "ego based states of consciousness."
Think of it this way. You are sitting at a restaurant and a man at an adjacent table belches. Loudly. You mumble under your breath, "What a pig." The facts or what is: a man belched at a restaurant. The data or ego based state of consciousness: "What a pig." Data or ego based states of consciousness are your personal judgements about things that happen around you or others' behavior. Your parents may have raised you not to belch out loud and told you it was an impolite thing to do, but there are other cultures where it is not frowned upon and can be even seen as a way of complimenting the cook.
So the first thing that is important with Ho'oponopono is being able to distinguish between fact or "what is" and your own thoughts, labels, or judgments.
The more energy you have about something, the more it will return as a karmic lesson, so chances are you won't encounter a stream of restaurant belches. But how about that reoccurring boyfriend? Or a mean spirited gossipy friend? You are attracting them into your life for a reason and purpose. Think of it like the movie Groundhog Day. Your day isn't repeating, but the circumstances are.
Before I had a life coach, decided to become a life coach or had ever heard about Ho'oponopono, I had a relationship where I really tried to embrace the notion of unconditional love. I wanted to be the best partner I could be. With no guidance, my brain created a set of theorems.
1. Unconditional = no conditions
2. Loving someone with no conditions means loving them no matter what emotions they have inadvertently triggered.
3. I am responsible for my own emotions and behavior.
I tried. I didn't know about Ho'oponopono, but I tried really hard. When something happened and I was disappointed, angry or sad, I would walk myself through mini pep talks to get myself off the ledge. Of course, everything that was happening were things one or both of us had a lot of energy about, so karmic lessons were in abundance. I can say with a great deal of love and optimism that I hope neither of us has that relationship again. In other words, that we learned the lessons we needed to learn and will level up. At the same time, even though I had few skills or tools to help me in my attempt, the more I study Ho'oponopono, the more I think I had it right.
The problems of our lives are not what actually troubles us. It is our reaction to them. We tend to look for offense like we want to be offended. One of the speakers on Zero Limits spoke of how using Ho'oponopono had enriched her family life. When her children would do something that irritated her, rather than chastising them or demanding that they change, she said the clearing words about the feeling within herself. She said the clearing words about her own judgment that her children were being irritating. As Dr. Hew Len pointed out, she did not suggest her children or any other family member do the Ho'oponopono themselves. In her case, she said that she knew if she did the clearing, all of them would be clear and fine. At the same time, just like you can't control others, Ho'oponopono is taking responsibility for your part in the equation of life, not urging others to do so.
Of course thinking like that, makes me think about my clients. How much of the service I'm providing should be teaching them the tools I have been taught and use vs. actually using those tools on my part in the equation of our relationship. After all, using the Dr. Hew Len model, it is not unreasonable to consider speaking the words to clear on anything about which you become unpleasantly aware.
War. GMO's. Politics. Global warming. Ferguson.
Mother Teresa once famously said that she didn't attend "Anti-War Rallies," but if anybody ever had a "Pro Peace Rally" she would. You attract things based on your energy. Focus on what you want, not on what you don't want. When what you don't want enters your sphere of attention: Ho'oponopono.
I'm sorry for whatever energy I brought to this situation.
Please forgive me.
I love you.