Some time last month, I was listening to a new spiritual podcast, and the speaker said that we can all heal ourselves and each other by stating, "I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you." Apparently, this series of four short statements healed all the patients of a psychiatric facility, simply by being uttered by a doctor while he was looking at the patient files.
I was intrigued.
So I googled the phrase and discovered it comes from a Hawaiian spiritual ritual called ho'oponopono.*
I found a blogpost that described this "cleaning" process. I found an online article claiming that you can heal the whole planet with ho'oponopono because everything that comes into your sphere of experience is your responsibility.** I searched Amazon for books describing ho'oponopono. I bought Mable Katz's book "The Easiest Way".***
And her title may not be an exaggeration.
After reading her short book, I have replaced my usual rituals for starting my day with simply repeating over and over, whenever I manage to remember (i.e. brain not occupied with other thoughts) either "I love you" or "Thank you".
The "Please forgive me" part is for addressing mistakes or bad behavior. Then you say to yourself, "Please forgive me for whatever made me do this." (You can be specific.) The nice thing is that you don't have to actually know what mechanisms triggered you into bad feelings or reactions.
Here's the deal: Ho'oponopono is about erasing whatever junk is stuck in our subconscious. These subconscious memories get triggered and replayed over and over, and make us react inappropriately. You don't have to know what the memories actually are, however. The Universe knows. Your inner child knows. You just have to start the process of healing or cleaning by asking to be forgiven.
I haven't done that consistently yet. I am still reading Katz' book, so this is all so fresh, it has to sit on the window sill and cool for a bit.
But the experience so far is so fun and encouraging, I want to share it now, not later.
My usual ritual for starting my day consists of some breathing exercises and lots of affirmations, usually said silently as I walk to work. These have become, I realize, virtual crutches, but my personality has a limp so the affirmations help. Repeating them until they "stick" (I agree with them) focuses my mind and my feelings and I can feel the difference.
Anything repetitious will focus the mind. This is the function of a mantra. The mantra can have meaning or be a nonsense sound. But imagine walking around, repeating in your mind "I love you" or "Thank you" while looking at other people, at complete strangers.
That reminded me of the experiment I did once, asking God to teach me to find God in other people. Wandering through one's day, dwelling on "I love you" or "thank you" whenever the mind remembers has a similar effect: It makes me warmer, friendlier, more tolerant and compassionate, more joyful. The day becomes happy.
I'm actually amazed at the profound effects of such a simple technique. I had a good test on Friday because I was attending a class with the same instructor for the third time. The last time I was there, I snapped at him (he kept calling me "missy", which was funny up to a point, at which I snapped). This time, my behavior was more focused and interested, and his was more respectful and also interested. A chance comment on my part had him and his co-worker enthusiastically finding books I could borrow so I can spend Easter learning Wordpress. (Thanks, guys! :-D)
All I do is say "I love you. I love you. I love you." or "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." Should an annoyance or critical thought pop up in my mind, I say a series of I love you's. Back to peace.
Katz says that since you can't listen to someone and be reciting "I love you" in your head at the same time, pay attention to the speaker, then say, "Thank you, I love you" (for example) before replying. Your reply will then be far more appropriate.
There are pleasant side-effects to ho'oponopono. The usual ones: Clean yourself, find yourself. Find yourself, become happy. Become happy, become rich. Something like that (which some of the links above get into). Although Katz mentions this, the focus of her book isn't wealth and success; it is on healing or cleansing. Her point is that as long as you keep letting past pains call the shots, you can't be your best self.
There is much more to ho'oponopono than what I've outlined here or than what Katz presents in her book, but that requires delving into the religious traditions of the Hawaiian Kahuna. Katz's version may not be traditional, but it does seem to work, and to work without harm.
*) The book I have read is based on the modern practice.
**) A comment on Amazon left for Joe Vitale's book suggested not taking on someone else's problems because you may make bad karma for yourself.
***) While reading the blogpost and an excerpt from Vitale's book, I kept struggling with the Hawaiian word. It wasn't until I was reading the excerpt from Mabel Katz's book that I realized how to pronounce ho'oponopono, so I took that as a sign and bought her book.