How energy medicine inspires thanks, giving, and forgiving.
Close your eyes and picture Hawaii. What do you see? Palm trees and plumeria lei? Black sand beaches with white-capped waves? Great. Now, go deeper. Because beyond the tropical clichés, Hawaii gives us something much more meaningful; namely, communities that collectively esteem honesty, forgiveness, and harmony.
These traits are distinctly Hawaiian. And luckily for us, they have traveled the world via the word Ho’oponopono. Practiced in Hawaiian culture for eons, Ho’oponopono is the tradition of finding a resolution to one person’s problem that is accepted by the whole community. The roots of the word are “Ho’o” (to bring about) and pono (rightness). Since “rightness” is emphasized, it is repeated twice.
Like Hawaiian values, the meaning of Ho’oponopono continues to travel. For those in Reiki and energy medicine circles, the term has come to be known as self-forgiveness. This concept was popularized in 2007 by Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len’s book, Self Identity Through Ho’oponopono (SITH). Based on four mantras—I’m sorry; please forgive me; thank you; and I love you—SITH is a focused, mental cleansing method. And because it is a healing practice based on the “we are all one” premise, Dr. Len used SITH to heal many hardened psych criminals—without even laying eyes on them. SITH is the perfect method when times call for distant healing.
Energy practitioners throughout the world understand that the healing benefits of forgiveness are plentiful. After all, we can’t feel right (“pono”) about ourselves if we feel wrong about past transgressions. Learning to forgive both ourselves and others is deeply curative.
According to Dr. Matt James, who details the forgiveness and meditation techniques used in Hawaii for hundreds of years in his book, The Foundation of Huna: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times, the Hawaiian forgiveness process allows people to cut the aka connection (clear out preconceptions in how we view others) to create new connections and rejuvenated relationships. He validated the effectiveness of practicing Ho’oponopono in a research study that proved that those who experienced Ho’oponopono enjoyed a statistically significant reduction in unforgiveness compared to those who did not.
The healing benefits of gratitude are equally powerful—and studied. According to research, an “attitude of gratitude” has been associated with improved health, better sleep, less anxiety and depression, and kinder behavior towards others. Thanksgiving, despite its calorie laden feasting, may be the healthiest holiday we have.
If you find gratitude difficult, that may be because life is difficult—especially now. But by actively choosing to practice gratitude, you’ll raise your happiness in proven ways. Energy medicine practitioner Melissa G Richardson would know. Author of The Road to Gratitude: A Guide to Healing Body Mind Spirit Through Energy Medicine, she demonstrates how energy medicine, in particular the Eden Method, supported her recovery from cancer and helped her heal physically, mentally, and emotionally.
So, if you can’t be grateful for big things right now, that’s okay—please forgive yourself—remember Ho’oponopono? And in any case, sometimes just thinking about small, positive things can have big, everlasting impact too. Are you grateful for the leaves crunching under your feet? For the smell of pumpkin pie? For the ability to practice energy medicine—even from afar? Or maybe just close your eyes and be grateful for the ability to travel vicariously. See those Hawaiian black sand beaches. Hear those white-capped waves crashing—even if the only place they rush are through your mind.