Ho’oponopono for Coping with Change

“The purpose of life is to be restored back to Love, moment to moment. To fulfill this purpose, the individual must acknowledge that he is 100 percent responsible for creating his life the way it is. He must come to see that it is his thoughts that create his life the way that it is moment to moment. The problems are not people, places, and situations but rather the thoughts of them. He must come to appreciate that there is no such thing as ‘Out There.’ ” – Dr. Ihaleakela Hew Len, from Zero Limits

Lately my life has been in a pretty much constant state of change. This is most likely a very good thing, but as an habitualized human being it has been very difficult to first accept and then to cope with. Lacking awareness of the warning signs of impending change on either a physical, emotional, or intellectual level, it was shocking to find myself no longer grounded by any of the things which I had taken for granted in my life – family, home, purpose. Instead of spending time working to build our house with my love on a plot of land in the Colorado mountains which we had recently moved on to, a life and purpose which we had been planning together and working towards for years, I now find myself alone, navigating the process of divorce, separated from my land and the home I was working to build, and nearly possession-less. To say that drastic change has found me would be an understatement.

Initially these events left me feeling hopelessly depressed, completely lost, lacking any sense of understanding, and very angry. I felt unable to enjoy the things which I loved the most and make me the happiest – running, reading, hanging out with friends, being alone amongst nature. Time slowed down to the point where it actually stopped for a while. This change began almost two months ago, and yet to me I have aged years in that amount of time. A single day now takes the same amount of time in my brain as weeks in the past routine. Everything felt excruciating, all advice was helpful but really didn’t actually help, and complete emotional breakdowns were a daily occurrence which were always waiting around hidden corners, just waiting for me to trip on the unseen and unanticipated. During moments of lucidity I was smart enough to realize that I needed a massive reset, and the best way for me to be me again would be to go on an “off-the-deep-end” kind of trip, but plane tickets bought six weeks off were virtually no consolation, too far away to look forward to.

Luckily for me I have a great family and some fantastic and very thoughtful and compassionate friends. I moved into the spare room at my dad’s house in Broomfield outside Denver, moved my business there, hung out with my brother, dad, and friends day in and day out, speaking to anyone who cared on the phone, and there were many great people who did care, and did my best to fill every waking moment with entertainment, lest I find myself alone and full of unhappy thoughts. Time began ticking again, but things really were not any clearer or better in my brain and heart.

And then a few events precipitated a change which needed to happen, a tipping point of looking forward instead of dwelling backwards. The first was my friend Jonas lending me a number of his best “spiritual help” books. He is a sensitive person who spends far more time pondering the deep questions than most of us do, and has tracked down some amazing insight and resources over the past few years of dealing with his own sickness and relationships, as well as working to find his place in this world. The next night, a Monday, I was out drinking with friends when my friend Hayden, who I had not hung out with in years but has been living in Boulder, let loose with the fact that since it was past midnight, it was now his 23rd birthday. I was many drinks deep already, my emotional morass convinced me that I really didn’t care about the consequences of such things as late night shots, and Hayden, being young, was of course game. Things got out of hand, we ended up extremely drunk, and I paid for it desperately the next day, like I have not in years. Shivering in bed at the thought of alcohol at four in the afternoon was a good opportunity to try reading for the first time in weeks, and I dove into Jonas’s books.

The books were a revelation and the hangover was like a line drawn in the sand, a scar on a timeline, which emphatically screamed at me “something needs to change, enough is enough.” Reading “The Mastery of Love,” by Don Miguel Ruiz was like being slapped in the face with knowledge which is so obviously just common sense, but that you cannot possibly be reminded of often enough. It was like watching your favorite movie, which you hadn’t seen in, oh, about eight years, and instantly remembering how much you love it and how you used to relate to it. It pointed out to me how much had changed in my understanding of life, in the way that I perceived other people and humanity and the world in general, and how I had lost myself along the way. It’s interesting to understand how change can happen at such a slow rate that you don’t even notice it happening, that it feels natural to be who are day in and day out, even though you are in fact not being you. It’s like seeing someone you haven’t seen in eight years – you instantly notice the difference – compared to if you had seen them every day during that time, you would just see the same person. I felt like I was being blasted with knowledge that an old me would have taken for granted, and in fact would have totally disdained someone for not understanding, and yet never-the-less I was learning again for the second time in my life. What a revelation, both refreshing and not-so-much! I couldn’t help but think that had I read this a couple months ago, things would inevitably not be the same. But change is not something I am in control of, and I don’t have a time machine…

The next book that I read a few days later finally convinced me that this change is what is meant to be, and there’s just no way that things will not end up better, there is no point in fighting what will be. The book is called “Zero Limits,” by Joe Vitale and Dr. Ihaleakela Hew Len, and is about the self-healing technique which originated in Hawaii called Ho’oponopono. I have felt inspired to share the gist of it, so here goes (I mostly use the terminology presented in the book, although there are many interchangeable words for much of what is discussed):

Dr. Hew Len is one amazing guy, which is evident from hearing the following story. During the mid-80’s he became the staff psychiatrist for a mental ward for criminals in Hawaii which was a terrible place; a place where inmates attacking each other or attacking the employees happened daily. Employees hated working and being there, and would take an inordinate amount of sick days or just outright quit very frequently. Inmates needed to be kept in secluded lock down with no outside contact and were fully chained and restrained during the few times they were allowed freedom, despite being mentally ill. Within something like three months of him starting to work there, however, much of this was reversed, and three years later when he finally moved on to another job, many of the inmates had been completely cured and released into the world, the employees loved their jobs, attacks had pretty much ceased to happen, inmates were free to travel around the grounds without restraint, and shortly thereafter all but two of the inmates were released and the entire facility completely shut down due to a lack of need for such a place anymore. His methods for enacting this change were also pretty bizarre, as he admitted to never seeing a single patient one-on-one, never participated in reviews or conferences regarding a single patient, often showed up late and left early, and basically interacted with the patients or staff very little. Instead he often sat in his office alone, reading the patient records, and performing Ho’oponopono, which basically entailed meditating about the way that a particular patient’s record made him feel and repeating to himself over and over, all day, “I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you.” That’s it!

In order to understand the Ho’oponopono or Dr. Hew Len’s methods, you have to understand how he perceives the world. He believes that there is literally one Divine Intelligence that we are all connected to, all of life is connected to, and as he says extends into the vegetable and mineral kingdoms as well. Essentially, there is a “one love,” and it works on the level of quantum physics. The divine, as he explains it, is simultaneously infinite and exists at the “zero state,” or pure emptiness. Below this shared level of divine intelligence each person functions on three levels: the level of “superconciousness,” which is your connection to the divine, the “conscious mind,” which is what we are aware of, and the “subconscious,” which we are not aware of but is never-the-less where the majority of our thoughts take place and is where our actions and reactions are first generated. He likes to use a computer analogy to say that at any given second your mind is exposed to 600 bytes of information but your conscious mind, which we tend to over-value, is only capable of processing 60 of those bytes, and the rest is stored in the subconscious mind. He uses this analogy to prove that since we only function on the level of the conscious mind, we really have no clue what is really going on.

Dr. Hew Len also believes that any thought or action that takes place in your mind is the result of one of two things: It is divine inspiration, coming direct from the divine intelligence which we are all connected to, or it is the result of a memory from the subconscious being replayed and affecting your thoughts, which he also uses a computer analogy to describe as “programs.” There is actually evidence from scientific studies cited in the book which shows that your brain waves begin to pick up in advance of any thought to have an action, proving that all thought and action is indeed begun in your subconscious, and then your conscious brain functions as more of the decider. In other words, you literally do not consciously make your own decisions, they are made subconsciously, and then you just decide whether to act on them or not. And all of those decisions which are made subconsciously are the result of, or affected by, memories you have, or “programs,” which have been installed in your brain and which you then run. The alternative to these decisions or programs being run by the subconscious mind is the Inspirations which come direct from the infinite divine, which he obviously believes to be preferable, and will lead to you functioning as the world intended for you to do, will lead to your happiness, and having a fantastic and love inspired life. Functioning only on the level of the subconscious will lead to suffering, because the programs which have been installed in all of our minds through society and experience are flawed.

According to Dr. Hew Len it is very difficult to receive inspirations from the divine intelligence, but in order to eliminate suffering and enjoy an abundance of happiness that is exactly what we must strive for. One of the first steps in the process is to take 100% responsibility for everything that happens in your life. You literally create the world as you perceive it, and there is nobody but yourself to blame for anything. He likes to say, “Did you ever notice that whenever you have a problem, you are always there?” Even problems which other people have but you perceive are your problems, because they are in your life. You should not ask yourself, why is that person having a problem, but rather, what have I done to manifest this problem coming into my life through this other person? Another person’s problem is your problem because we are all one, we are all connected through the divine. There is no such thing as “out there” versus “in here.” It is all in here, because you create all of it, every bit, as you perceive it. The thing is, if literally everything in your life is “in here,” in you, that means that you can solve the problem just by focusing and working on yourself, you don’t need to try to solve the other person’s problem. If you solve a problem within yourself, it will be solved within everyone, because again, it all comes from you.

The way that he describes to solve problems, or to erase the programs that are occupying your subconscious thoughts, and thereby leave your brain open to the inspirations, is to “clean” them. Basically, he believes that you do not want to be functioning based on faulty programs and bad memories which are replaying, so you need to petition the divine to transmute them and let them go. If you become conscious of a memory or a thought pattern, a feedback loop in your mind, you can either ignore it and let it keep playing and instructing in your subconscious forever, or you can be aware of it and petition the divine to transmute it into love – “cleaning” it away. The way he does this is by saying, “I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you.” He says this to the divine, but since the divine is in all of us, really he is just saying it to himself. Love, forgiveness, and appreciation are the real answers to all the problems, and are the way that we are able to find happiness in all moments of our life. By loving yourself, forgiving yourself, and appreciating yourself and the world, you are transmuting negative thoughts and programs into positive ones and releasing yourself from their weight. You are opening yourself up to love and the divine inspiration, which may come to you at any time, and take you in any direction. Interestingly, this is a very similar message to what is preached in a million different self-help books, spiritual traditions, and religious traditions from different times and all over the world. The terminology and understanding of it all may be different, but you will not find an ancient wisdom or spiritual tradition which does not hold love, forgiveness, and appreciation at its very core.

So when Dr. Hew Len was working at the criminal psychiatric ward, he believed that because the problems of these mentally ill criminals appeared in his life, they were also his problems, because he took 100% responsibility for everything in his life. And he knew that since they were his problems, he needed to work on himself in order to solve the problems. He also knew that if he could solve these problems in himself, then naturally the problems would be solved in everyone, because we are all one and share one and the same divine intelligence. And his belief was that to work on himself meant to petition the divine to clear away these troubles, so he worked tirelessly to “clean” his subconscious of these problems. And the way he did that was to love himself, ask forgiveness, and show appreciation endlessly by repeating to himself and beleiving, “I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you.” And that’s all he did as staff psychiatrist, and it literally cured virtually everyone there, changed the environment, and led to all the patients being released and the facility to not even be needed anymore, just by doing that tirelessly every day. His results and actions are verified in the book by interviews with other people who worked there at the time. Pretty amazing story I think…

There is one more aspect to the whole process of Ho’oponopono that I want to talk about as well, and that is the necessity of “letting go,” and enabling it all to happen. Dr. Hew Len would say that you have to listen to the Inspiration, and not veto what it is telling you, or let other mundanities of life tell us that we can’t or shouldn’t (No self-limiting thoughts!). If we open ourselves up to Love and Inspiration, then naturally very good things will happen to us, things which will lead to abundance in our lives, things which we want to happen, rather than things which we don’t. However, we have to let go and stop trying to control how or why or when these things will happen, we just have to Be. I know that we have all experienced this in our lives. Just the other day I was hanging out with friends, some old and some brand new when one of them told a story about how she and been trying so hard to win a certain award for the past five years but always came up just short. This year she decided to just go with the flow, not worry about it, and let go of her “try” because it was driving her nuts, and of course she won the award. Climbers know that you can try and try over and over again to send a certain route and fail to the point of madness, at which point you just let go of your desire and the next attempt is inevitably the successful one. Or you can spend years looking for the perfect person and once you finally say to yourself, “whatever, I don’t even care anymore,” the person walks into your life. Go with the flow, listen to the inspiration, and don’t question why or how, don’t veto the idea because you have expectations or preconceived notions of how things are going to go, or are meant to be, just let go, and let them be. And they will take you to where you need to go, and most likely you will never been able to predict the path or see the meaning until you end up there…

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So maybe everything I have written above seems like pure crazy mumbo-jumbo. Or maybe it has piqued your interest in reading the book – Zero Limits. Or maybe it sounds a lot like things you already believe and you get me completely. I don’t really care. I will take care of me and you take care of you. All I know is that reading about this stuff, pondering it, and putting it into practice in my life recently has helped me move out of a state of depression and despair and towards one of self-love and happiness, and what could possibly be wrong with that? Writing is a big part of the person who I used to be, and is a part of the person who I would like to become, and I felt inspired to share my circumstances and this different way of looking at things which has helped me, so I did. What does this all mean? For me it means that I am responsible for what has happened to me. How does that make me feel? Sad, for sure, but also empowered and free. If I am responsible for this past tragedy, then there is no reason that I am not also responsible for creating a happier and more beautiful future for myself as well, which is what I intend to do. All I need to do is love myself and share the love, and I feel up to the task!

Thank you for reading! Clear your mind, open your heart, love yourself! ONE LOVE!