Ho’oponopono - A powerful wisdom tradition from Hawai’i
Aloha from the Big Island, Hawai’i! Fagan and I have been travelling through the aloha state for the past week, and we’ve felt some beautiful inner shifts just by being here - we’re triggered less, we smile and laugh more, and most importantly, we are awake and aware - not an easy feat when stuck in the throes of routine back home. Such is the magic of Hawai’i.
Yesterday, we attended a ho’oponopono ceremony by the beach, led by a local healer Kai. Ho’oponopono is a traditional Hawaiian system of dispute resolution, but its modern incarnation sees it as one of reconciliation and forgiveness, and on making right the relationships we have with people, our community and the living world.
Kai shared some amazing stories about the islands (did you know, ancient Hawaiians believed they came from the stars?), and he held the space so lovingly for us to, in his words, let our crap go. We could also ask for forgiveness for our ancestors and future generations, which I felt was a very powerful thing to do.
In a wooden bowl, we collected rocks (symbolic of what we wanted to let go of or seek forgiveness for), which we later tossed into the ocean while repeating these four simple statements -
Please forgive me.
I love you.
Initially, the act of saying these words out loud was met with some inertia, as they felt a little flat. But with repetition came introspection. Chanting these words brought all my buried stuff up into my awareness - the hidden pockets of anger, resentment, disappointment and grief that I mistakenly believed had ebbed with time. At the same time, by heightening my awareness of my impact in the world and my community, these words silenced my ego mind to make space for repentance - for example, I never would have thought to ask Mother Earth for forgiveness, for not treading as lightly as I should.
We later gathered back in a circle, turned our empty bowls to the setting sun to collect its rays and light, and closed the ceremony by each sharing what we were grateful for, among many smiles and a few tears.
Ho’oponopono comes into its power when practised on a regular basis, not only when we are faced with a crisis. The beauty of it is that anyone can practise it wherever they are - no Hawaiian sunset, beach or wooden bowl necessary. All you need are some quiet time alone, a pure intention, and the four sacred statements. Remember to seal the practice by acknowledging what you are grateful for - often times, it’s the mundane and the things we take for granted that need our affirmation most.
Thank you for allowing me to paint this experience in words, and to my students, thank you for trusting me always to hold space for you. I love you.