ONE of life’s joys and intrigues is the investigation of truth and meaning. The exploration of the world’s religions can bring us closer to our own answers, and through my own studies, I’ve seen that the principles of ho’oponopono (ho ho pono pono) are woven throughout most religions. It is as if their most essential messages of infinite love, forgiveness, gratitude, and personal responsibility have been distilled into one practice, based on a simple understanding of our place in the universe.
I have found in Ho’oponopono, primarily through the teachings of Ihaleakala Hew Len, an elegant explanation of our human existence and purpose that makes sense to me. Ho’oponopono suits me, especially, because of its simplicity. It does not rely on an official instruction book (and books about that book), nor does it rely on other people. It does rely on each of us making a conscious decision to walk through life on a Ho’oponopono path, and to take responsibility and forgive ourselves when we invariably stray off that path. The practice of Ho’oponopono offers a gentle way, without sacrificing religious beliefs, to be open to answers. Reflections of these connections can be found in the quotes in the “Ho’oponopono is …” chapters of this book.
When I began my career as a Marriage and Family Therapist in the late eighties, I doubted ‘spirituality’ belonged in the psychotherapy office at all. I am taken with how limited my definition of spirituality was then. I equated spirituality with religion, and, with it, a bully pulpit which limited the questioning of its dogma and did not respect different lifestyles and personal beliefs.
Now I equate spirituality with energy, with quantum mind, with healing and with love. It brings to mind being-in-the-moment and Oneness. After thousands of hours using energy therapies, coming from both mind and heart, and learning to trust my intuition, I have come to the perspective that it is only through the energy of spirit that healing manifests completely.
Since my earliest days as an intern, I have treated adults recovering from the abuse in their childhoods. This includes several clients, raised or influenced by cults, who had been intentionally and incessantly abused. The topic is not appropriate content for a children’s book, but suffice it to say that it is not unusual for the mind of a child in this situation to develop a wonderfully creative coping strategy. In her brilliant mind, she creates new parts of herself, essentially new identities, to handle the abuse. She is then able to block out, or dissociate, personal awareness of the frightening and degrading situation. I would not have written about Dakota’s journey had I not had the honor of journeying with these brave souls as they explored their own minds. Spiritual injuries must be met with spiritual healing. Walking with these people for my small part of their healing journey has been a powerful introduction to the most transcendent capacities of our consciousness.
As an intern, I was fascinated when, at a conference at UC Berkeley in 1988, I heard a talk by Dr. Francine Shapiro about her new therapeutic tool, now referred to as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, EMD at the time). Very briefly, EMDR combines crossing the body bilaterally (using the eyes, ears, touch or movement) while focusing on distressing thoughts, feelings and imagery. EMDR clinicians use SUDs measures, (subjective units of distress), before and after treatment. In this way, both my clients and I are often able to see the astounding effectiveness in releasing their stuck feelings and negative selfdefinition. I didn’t define it as such then, but I began using energy psychology in 1990.
As challenging as the complexity of the mind can be, I am grateful to have had the good fortune to study hypnosis and consult with Dr. Tony Madrid. In a process that emphasizes safety, respect and integrity, I have been able to guide my clients deep into their subconscious mind and beyond, to what some refer to as the Superconscious or Inner Wisdom. This part of all of us has an instant connection to Divinity, or, if you will, magic and miracles. The imagery I have of the mind has been formed over countless sessions of hypnosis with a diversity of people. In session, their inner wisdom and my intuition collaborate, so that their unconscious memories, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings can be retrieved, transformed and let go.
Thanks to the internet, I was introduced to EFT about the same time I discovered Ho’oponopono. Emotional Freedom Technique was founded by Gary Craig, who had been a student of Roger Callhan’s Thought Field Therapy. Briefly, EFT involves tapping on energy meridians, similar to those used in acupuncture, while thinking and voicing the many aspects and feelings about a problem. This is always coupled with positive affirmations regarding the person’s ability to be selfloving, self-accepting and self-forgiving. Unlike EMDR, non-therapists are encouraged to learn EFT and use it on themselves as often as needed.
My religious affiliation, Unitarian Universalism, professes no dogma, but offers seven principles that we affirm and promote, beginning with the first principle–the inherent worth and dignity of every person. The seventh principle is respect for the interconnected web of existence, of which we are a part. These are just two of a myriad of ways to acknowledge Divinity.
However, it was not until my introduction to ho’oponopono, that I realized that I, as a psychotherapist, was buying into a dynamic of “me and them”, with my clients. As a therapist I’ve had the opportunity, thanks to EMDR, EFT, hypnosis, slo-mopono, and the energy of trust and love, to witness thousands of healing experiences and mini-miracles in my office. I am now viscerally aware that I am primarily the one being healed.
I introduce some of the concepts of Ho’oponopono to most of my clients in their first or second session. I explain that I see almost everything with an overlay of Ho’oponopono and that I may, in our work together, point out the Ho’oponopono perspective in a situation. I point to the essentials of self–love, 100% responsibility (avoiding blame and victimization) and forgiveness.
My clients are often encouraged to consider what it is that they would like to let go of during a session. This question shifts the emphasis from a sense of powerlessness regarding problems, to a sense of personal responsibility to let go. The use of EFT and EMDR almost invariably results in a release of toxic or self-defeating thoughts and feelings.
“Slo-mo-pono,” as described in this book, honors the relationship of my clients with their younger, more vulnerable selves, points to the thoughts that create problems, and encourages clients’ relationships with their Inner and Greater Divinities. Finally, it can dramatically and somewhat magically demonstrate the Ho’oponopono transmutation process.
Another activity that has been valuable to both young and older clients is one that involves “Caca Mountain”. After drawing the simple outline of a mountain, the client (child, friend or I) designate sections, in pencil, that identify thoughts and feelings that are bothersome. Then, eraser in hand, the owner of this Caca Mountain erases each section, at the same time, saying out loud or internally, a cleaning mantra. This often creates a dramatic letting go, not only intellectually but physically and emotionally.
Some of my clients express gratitude for the introduction to Ho’oponopono, incorporating this practice immediately and reporting on significant changes in their relationships and, especially, within themselves. Others are not interested in the subject, and I clean on my own disappointment, frustration and egoic attitude. Ultimately, healing does not come from my persuading people to use the principles of Ho’oponopono. My job as a psychotherapist is to recognize and correct my own erroneous thoughts and projections, to replace them with the healing power of love, and to get out of the way of Divine Inspiration (God, Love, etc.).