Confession on Steroids

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Foto: Vincent Camacho

Ho’oponopono: Forgiveness Hawaiian Style
Aloha, Divine Maker, Father, Mother, and Child in one and whole…
Ho’oponopono begins with a prayer. And though I’m a sucker for all manner of New Age ceremonies – bonus points for ancient origins – I sensed a twinge of resistance when I realized this. After twelve years of Catholic schooling and my subsequent shift away from organized religion towards personal spirituality, I prefer to steer clear of rote benediction. But I closed my eyes, imagined a benevolent hula girl, and powered through.
It turns out the prayer would be the least challenging bit of this forgiveness ritual.
Ho’oponopono literally means ‘to tidy up’. But not in a Marie Kondō kind of way. The insinuation is that you’re tidying up everything that you, your family, your ancestors have mussed up over the years and generations. For those of you with a moderate knowledge of Catholicism, it’s like confession on steroids. It’s like asking forgiveness for everything. Even if you are not technically to blame.
Was my thought precisely. I, like many people I assume, have very clear delineations when it comes to fault. If I do aand the result is bthen I caused b.Straightforward enough. However, ho’oponopono teaches a much more multifaceted concept of forgiveness. When forgiving, we also ask for forgiveness.
So unfair! Screams my willful, mutinous inner child.
But as the healers and practitioners of ho’oponopono preach, forgiveness is more than words. It is a healing process. It means letting go of all the negativity associated with a person or a situation. Putting down the karmic baggage so to speak. And that involves accepting that we, too, have made mistakes. Have hurt. Have caused injury. And so we seek forgiveness. Not only from others, but also from ourselves.
Ego now slightly assuaged.
There are umpteen ways to practice ho’oponopono. With a healer, with your family, by yourself. However, my personal favorite is a contemplative and introspective one that you can do alone. After the prayer (see below), you follow these three steps:
The Problem
Start by asking yourself what the problem is. It might be a colleague, a partner, a parent, a friend who is pushing your buttons. Imagine it, or even better, write it down. Then imagine or write down how it makes you feel.
My colleague is stealing all my ideas and it makes me angry.
My partner is emotionally unavailable and it makes me feel sad and rejected.
My mother is always criticizing me and it makes me feel defensive.

 The Explanation
Now is when it starts to get tricky. While imagining how the “offender” is behaving, think about what might motivate YOU to behave that way. Notice the capital YOU. Don’t get caught up in trying to interpret why your colleague, partner, and mother are doing what they’re doing. Unless of course you want to aggravate an already fraught situation by psycho-splaining their behavior to them from your personal perspective. If you do, by all means… have fun with that!
But if you truly want to forgive and grow, think about (write down) what might cause YOU to behave this way:
I might steal someone’s ideas if I feel insecure about my job situation.
I might be emotionally unavailable if I am worried about something.
I might criticize someone if I want them to do their very best.
And after each of your explanations – you might have several – repeat to yourself:
I’m sorry. I forgive you and I forgive myself. I love you and I love myself. Thank you.
At first, it might feel like you’re making excuses for people. Letting them off the hook for behavior they should be penalized for. In a way, you are.
However, and more importantly, you’re also letting yourself off the hook. Releasing any anger, frustration, pain, need to forever bear a grudge or hold someone accountable. And that is more important than we often admit to ourselves. Because those feelings don’t stay all neatly compartmentalized in that isolated sphere of our lives. They ooze like slimy goo all over the place. And, more often than not, all over people who really don’t deserve it. So just repeat…
I’m sorry. I forgive you and I forgive myself. I love you and I love myself. Thank you.

 The Motivation
I personally find this final step to be the biggest challenge. Most likely because my ego is loud and unyielding. However, if you can proceed with a modicum of humility and grace, you’ll realize that this is what forgiveness is so often all about.
It’s time to acknowledge your own role in this mess.
What might you have done to instigate the way your colleague, partner, mother is behaving. What are your patterns? What are your subconscious beliefs, dogmas, behaviors that motivate the people around you to react the way they do. For those of you who can’t think of anything… think harder! I’m sure you’re swell. No doubt! But don’t fool yourself into thinking that you don’t get under someone’s skin.
Once you’ve come up with your motivations repeat after each one:
“I’m sorry. I forgive you and I forgive myself. I love myself and I love you. Thank you for the healing. Thank you for the transformation. Thank you for the miracle”
To all of you who eschew the esoteric and have gotten this far. Kudos! I know this can all sound a bit hokey. Transformation. Miracle.But let’s be real: for many, it is indeed a miracle to take responsibility for their actions. And doing just that is a transformation of sorts. As is allowing ourselves to let go of pent up negative emotions. Ho’oponopono is a way to achieve this while consciously embracing the fact that we are all flawed.
And if ho’oponopono is still just a bit too arcane for your tastes, skip the prayer and focus instead on how empowering it is to own your mistakes, how liberating it is to release resentment, how brave it is to empathize. And if that isn’t enough… there’s always the hula girl!
Aloha, Divine Maker, Father, Mother, and Child in one and whole.
With this Ho’oponopono, I humbly ask for forgiveness for myself, my family, my relatives, and my ancestors who may have insulted, injured or treated anyone, their family, their relatives, and their ancestors unworthily through words, conduct or deeds from the beginning of creation to this present day.
Please forgive me.
Let this prayer cleanse and release me from all unwanted and bad feelings, negative memories, information, blocks, patterns, energies, and vibrations that connect and bind us. Please erase all unwanted memories, information, and resistance. Transform all this unwanted energy into pure light, and fill all the newly created empty space with divine light.
Let divine harmony, light, love, peace, and wisdom emerge again through the divine power of the father, the mother, and the son in one.
So it is and so it should be for now and forever.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amama


[1]I would like to thank my friend Kerstin for introducing me to ho’oponopono and sharing this method and prayer with me. The original is in German from the book “Heile die Welt und heile Dich selbst” by Erich Emil Dupree.

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