Pono and Ho’oponopono, Part 2


Posted Mar 29, 2011

In my last blog post I talked about the Hawaiian concepts of Pono, of being right with yourself, and Ho'oponopono, the forgiveness technique that literally means to make something doubly right, and how they relate to each other. In other words, our ability to fully forgive others and release negative feelings flows out of our sense of congruency, peace, purpose - Pono.

Where does Pono come from? It begins with knowing your path, quite literally your reason for being here on planet Earth.

Now that might seem like a tall order. And you might ask, can't I forgive others even if I am unsure of my ultimate purpose? Yes, but it is so much easier to let go of negative emotions such as fear, anger, unforgiveness, when we are Pono.

I recently spoke to a group in Portland and I began my talk by asking them to consider the question "why am I here?" Now that's a big one to tackle right off the bat. It's like waking up one day and saying you're going to run the marathon, and you don't even own running shoes! So I suggested, let's start with a simpler question. Pick one area of your life where you are seeking to change, any area, and really ask yourself why you are doing it.

I used to weigh 70 pounds more than I weigh right now. That's an enormous amount of weight to be carrying around. I did a lot of work on myself and yet, at the same time, I was still going up and down, up and down with my weight.

I woke up one day and asked myself, "Why do I want to be healthy?" Once I was able to answer the question, it transformed my thinking about health and fitness. The answer was: I wanted it for myself.

Saying "I want to look good for my students" or even "I want to be healthy for my kids," did not work, at least it did not work for me. And I am not the only one. There have been psychological studies of smokers that showed when they quit smoking for someone else - for their husbands, wives, partners, kids - most of the time, it didn't last. The failure rate for people who quit for others is above 90 percent. It works for a few people but not for most.

The same study found that the success rate for people who quit smoking and did it for themselves was above 90 percent. That is just phenomenal. It shows that when you quit for you - when you have a reason why you're doing it for you - then you are more successful. The reason is that the why in what you're doing provides you with motivation. And motivation is fire. It's desire. It is Mana, the Hawaiian word for energy.

Conversely, when you don't have a reason, you have no motivation. You have no spark. You have no desire. You have no Mana. And one day, the Mana that you did build up to achieve the task just disappears because you have no more motivation.

What does this have to do with forgiving others? Start by forgiving yourself. When you discover the inner peace that comes with being Pono, it gives you the motivation to let go of negative feelings towards others.

Some people might reject this idea as selfish or self-centered, but it is basic psychology. We each view the world from our own vantage point. When we are able to be forgiving towards ourselves, it makes it much easier to forgive others.

So, if you find it a bit overwhelming to think about your whole purpose for being here on the planet, think instead about your goals. Why do you want to be healthy? Why do you want to be in this relationship? Why do you want to be in this career?

When you have a reason that truly resonates with your heart, with your mind, with your gut, then define what that means to you. Stop looking outside and instead look inside and ask yourself, what does that mean to me now, at this moment? When that reason becomes your path, then you will discover what it means to be Pono.

Got questions? Please respond here or get in touch with me through my Facebook fan page.



Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of Kona University and its training and seminar division The Empowerment Partnership, where he serves as a master trainer of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), a practical behavioral technology for helping people achieve their desired results in life. His new book, The Foundation of Huna: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times, details forgiveness and meditation techniques used in Hawaii for hundreds of years. He carries on the lineage of one of the last practicing kahuna of mental health and wellbeing. To reach Dr. James, please e-mail him at info@Huna.com.

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