The Art of healing: Hoʻoponopono

life quote

Hotmail delivered an email by a troubled soul I no longer consider as friend, refer to my emotional rant in the article ‘A can of worms’. Technology amazes me, how you can still receive emails from a ‘blocked’ person is one of the wonders of modern society. In this instance however, gratitude is the order of the day.

Her email, as always, was a forwarded email that goes by the subject line: “I’m sorry” and “I love you”.  I must be the only dyslexic in the world who just can’t resist reading a well-written email, even if it is from someone I have officially blocked from my life. What can I say? We all have our quirks; curiosity is mine.

This particular email was so intriguing it warranted a post, for those who are familiar with my musings you know that I rather stay silent than write for the sake of writing, yes all you social media marketers, I am guilty of the number one SMM no-no. I have never been one to conform and my viewpoints are different at best but never run-of-the-mill.

Hoʻoponopono is the ancient Hawaiian belief system that offers cures for a world steeped in pain and sickness. According to Wikipedia, “Hoʻoponopono” is defined in the Hawaiian Dictionary as “mental cleansing: family conferences in which relationships were set right through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness.”

This particular email made references to Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, a therapist in Hawaii who cured a complete ward of criminally insane patients without ever seeing them, by improving himself. Total responsibility, the belief that everything in your life is your responsibility and not in a guilt tripping depressing way but in an uplifting empowering way.

I am not completely sold on the technique or the results, nor am I convinced of the authenticity of the claims, however what I am intrigued with is the underlying empowerment message. Yes, I am a sucker for inspirational, motivational and downright simple common sense. As a catholic, I can totally resonate with, ‘prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness’.

For the longest time however, I always thought that all the above were for your own mental health. As a proponent of, ‘You have the power to change your past’ I found it quite interesting that I, me and myself encompasses the universe.

The question, ‘what have you done?’ being posed to the parents when any child was ill, really struck a nerve. The fact that one out of my brood of three is perpetually ill might have something to do with it. My counsellor, as my son might have Asperger’s, is always drumming the circle of parenting principles, one of her favourite being, the solution to all behavioural issues with children is to spend more quality time with them. To rejoice in them and delight in them, kind but firm is what every parent should aim for. Screaming, yelling and generally loosing it is my modus operandi, but Libby and I are working on that.

Apart from the fact that if you are at peace with yourself, everyone around you will also absorb that calming presence (a kindy teacher who is confident and calm always has her class attentive to her), the ability to heal others by taking responsibility for them mentally, seems to make a lot of sense. In this world where everyone is harping on their freedom to curse, insult and abuse, a message of peace, harmony, forgiveness and most importantly responsibility might just be what we need in these troubled times.

To heal the world, our community, our families, by first healing ourselves, makes a lot of sense. Every troubled teenager, criminal and war monger needs to be taken responsibility for, we as a community need to step out of our shells, our private little perfect worlds and embrace the troubled, lonely and even the criminally insane with love, forgiveness and acknowledgment. Distancing ourselves form the problem doesn’t make it go away, doing something about it does.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we all make a beeline to the prisons and hospitals; that would be nice, however what we can do is stop this mental demarcation of them versus us. Total surrender and total responsibility, at least mentally for starters, who knows we might just change the world and save it while we heal and love ourselves.

family quote

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Rejection is the new measure of success.

REJECTION

I was reading an article about rejections, Dr Seuss, the beloved author of children’s picture books was rejected 27 times. Just before he lost all hope, an old friend agreed to publish it and it sold 600 million copies. Two things come to mind, one that success is difficult and you should never give up; secondly, the decision makers (editors, publishers etc.) need to find a different line of work.

I have always been a writer and as a child I believed that one day I would see my works published. My educators seemed to doubt my supreme faith, luckily I was never one to blindly confirm. As a dyslexic I can understand their reluctance to envision me at some book-signing event. In retrospect, I must be the only dyslexic who wants to be a writer and loves words; I mean they rarely stay still. However, blessed with an overactive imagination it’s hard not to pen the echoes of strange worlds and capture the spirit of the glorious characters that abound in them. Dyslexia is why you have spell check, and why you enlist the help of friends and family to edit and proof read, not a reason to give up your passion.

For those who have been following my blog, you would agree that my take on life is anything but stereotyped. Some see a glass half full, while others lament a glass half empty, I however rejoice on the glass fulfilling its role and the fact that my thirst can be quenched.

My biggest grouse is with the naysayers of life, the judges, the evaluators, the critics etc. we all cross paths with them eventually to get the joy sucked out of our lives. These qualified analysts claim to have God’s ear, and hence the supreme confidence with which they declare you not fit, not good enough, not appropriate, will never succeed, will never amount to anything in life etc.

They are predictable and spend their lives demanding that we, the free-spirited, conform to their rules and reasoning. How do you pigeonhole creativity, passion, and talent? “Too different and silly” the unanimous reason for rejection is what makes the books of Dr. Suess so loved.

How many stories have we heard, of successful entrepreneurs who disagreed with the experts only to start their own common sense line that took them laughing to their banks? What we need is a little bit of Edison in our lives, ‘I haven’t failed 500 times but I have found 500 ways that don’t work’, this is how I remember the quote from childhood but today Google reports it as 10,000 times. The moral of the story still holds true, never give up and don’t listen to the naysayers. Rejections are the hallmark of the greatest achievers; the one commonality being they never accepted it.

 

Makeup is a woman’s right not a gender privilege.

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Applying makeup is more than just a fashion trend it’s part of being a woman. For far too long women who love makeup have been labelled as superficial and by a fanatical few as dissolute. As a girl I grew up with a mother who shied away from makeup and was the ultimate ‘au naturale’. A devout catholic prayer warrior she was more like a nun than a woman of the world.
I on the other hand loved to paint my nails, face, dolls and once even attempted to beautify a calf in my granny’s farm! My mother unlike all the other religious stoics who tend to shame girls like me, encouraged me saying, “If you’re gonna paint yourself try to do it right!’
Yes, my mother had an extremely unique modus, a sincere matter of fact style that didn’t involve any sugar coated nonsense. For me she was the ultimate woman, she did whatever she liked out of choice, no fear propaganda or social norms that she felt obliged to adhere to. There was only one person to please and that was God, if her actions would shame her in front of her creator then that was all the deterrent she needed.
Which isn’t to say she wasn’t flawed, a lot more than others because she was transparent, she never felt the need to hide or pretend and so was always pointed at. A great learning model for me because it taught me that there is no pleasing anyone and there is only one who truly matters and he is on my side. Armed with that knowledge and conviction I can proudly inform you that I have battled some of the worst traumas one can possibly face in life and you know what? I’m still standing strong, bat ready to face whatever life can possibly throw at me and I do it in style! Fingernails painted and makeup on, I am ready.
So you have a colicky baby that doesn’t let you sleep through the night, an illness that drains the colour out of your face, personal crisis that makes you crawl into a corner and bawl your eyes out, who says you need to look the part. I know I don’t and if you want to it’s ok, I respect that.
I grew up loathing pity; I hated if anyone felt sorry for me, and did all I could to look strong and confidant even if I was falling apart inside. Makeup empowers me, I may not be able to make my baby sleep through the night but I can sure hide those dark circles. Life doesn’t have to win all the rounds.
According to research people have been painting themselves since the beginning of time, it’s a way of establishing control and reinforcing one’s identity. No wonder the first thing most religious dictatorships do is to ban cosmetics. Strip a woman of her right to celebrate her individuality and establish her identity and you have a broken, lost soul ready for manipulation. Allow only women in the sex trade access to cosmetics and you subconsciously reinforce the idea that a woman’s beauty is only for male pleasure.
A research by Dr. Richard Russell, a psychology professor at Gettysburg College, sates that the only way a face gets classified as male or female is by facial contrasts. Women tend to have lighter skin, darker eyes and lips than men. No wonder that the basic elements of makeup consists of foundation, mascara and lipstick. All we are trying to do is stress our identity, we are female and we are beautiful.
For all the opponents of cosmetics I ask, “Who are you?” 9 times out of 10 we all reply with reference to our gender. This is who I am, a woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife and a writer. I don’t love makeup or fashion but they are an integral part of my life, I brush my teeth and I apply make up. I am a woman, why shouldn’t I do what I want and look how I feel inside, which is beautiful? There are days when I want to look plain and ordinary, and many, many more days when I want to look gorgeous, why shouldn’t I?

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Is it superficial to enhance your feminine attributes? Do you do courses to enhance your trade? Do you eat right and exercise to look fit and healthy? Do you dress well because you feel good about it? Do you get a haircut and groom yourself to look polished? Most importantly do you smile when you look at a beautiful person? I do and I like to be that beautiful person too.

 

Perception, it’s all in the mind!

Every drop makes an ocean
Every drop makes an ocean

Richard Bach had written in his book Illusions that ‘You’re always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past’. As an 18-year-old I never quite understood what he meant and I shelved it as one of those mystical sayings that are so deep that you float! Today 18 years later I have finally understood what he meant, or in Richard Bach’s words, I already knew it, I just happened to remember. It finally dawned on me that your past is just a memory, yes the events were real and many times painful which is why some events are etched in our memory like stone, which even the waters of time cannot erase. I always thought that forgiveness, like our Lord Jesus preached could change our past and present and definitely our future. Perhaps this is what Richard Bach was trying to imply in different verbiage?

Apparently not, imagine any event that shattered you emotionally (dramatic effect) or even a simple one but something that created a ripple effect in your life. For a bit of drama, imagine Spiderman (yes I love spidey, this is the second time I have mentioned him in my posts.) he chooses a path of the vigilante because a criminal he refused to stop ended up killing his uncle. The latest version spins a new tale in which the criminal was not the killer but an out of luck dad trying to save his critically ill daughter.  Has his past changed? YES.

For a less dramatic version imagine a little girl whose best friend steals her favourite doll then lies about it. She grows up with trust issues and turns into an introvert, years later when she moves to college her parents renovate her room. One of the builders hands over a dusty old doll that they found when moving a heavy wooden cupboard. This little girl is shocked at the discovery and yes her past has changed. Hopefully she makes up with her friend and overcomes her trust issues.

The point I am trying to make is that reality is how you and I define it. The exact events have nothing to do with it. What might seem like absolute, irrefutable truth can in fact be a lie and vice versa. The only permanent feature is our own interpretation of the events, which then translates into emotions, giving rise to either good or bad memories. These memories then shape our personalities, our beliefs, our ideologies and invariably our present, which soon becomes our past.

Lets look at natural childbirth, it is considered as the most physically demanding and painful experience in life. Yet, since the beginning of time women have happily volunteered for it and in many cases undergone more than one in their lifetime. Why? If only the ‘real’ facts were to be taken into consideration, which are intense physical trauma, excruciating pain, copious amounts of blood, loud screams that can curdle your blood, need I go on? For the record, I had three elective caesareans, and in no way lay any claim whatsoever to these multitude of brave women. The entire concept of childbirth is looked upon as a very natural and even beautiful process involving the birth of life through the selfless love of the mother.

Perception, is the difference between trauma and celebrated; routine and ghastly; torture and edification; not reality. So next time life, an event or a person breaks your spirit ask yourself how does nature trick mankind into forgetting the pain and glorifying the end and do the same. Go forth and change your past into whatever you want it to be!

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Meditation, or is it just me?

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This musing is a reaction to an article about another blogger’s journey with vipasana mediation. 10 days of doing nothing but sitting 12 hours straight, in an attempt to still one’s mind. As a blogger and writer the whole purpose of stilling one’s mind is beyond me. I am like the NASA probe searching for a thought wave, constantly on the prowl for some illuminating thought that I can transcribe into words. My mind is a podium for unceasing debate, in the words of René Descartes,

I think therefore I am.

Even as I sleep my mind is in constant chatter, my dreams are more tangled than Shakespeare’s web of lies. I am always on the Internet absorbing news, ideas, latest research, discoveries and constantly analysing theories. I relish religious discourses where I can logically defend my faith. I am constantly scouring anti-Catholic sites, assimilating all their objections and I try to find valid answers to all their contentions. If there is a point that I cannot clarify then I thrash it out mentally and devour religious literature until I find the answer. Offcourse, all this goes on internally, I never voice my opinions publicly, for me religion is a very personal matter and not for public debate, which brings me to my point, I love to think.

Unfortunately there are days, mostly when I am on a zero sugar and low carb diet when my mind just goes blank. These periods that I dub as writer’s block which are more like thinker’s block are the most boring and depressing episodes of my life. No thoughts, no emotions, no adrenaline, no reaction, just empty space, floating through a void; most depressing. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to be in that state! It’s like dying; at least it’s for me.

Oh the joy to be alive, to feel emotions that cause your heart to pound, the blood to rush into your veins, to experience your head throb with anger or excitement. Why would anyone want to give all that away, even for a nanosecond? As a religious person I know that there are times one should be still and listen to the Lord, but for me that is usually when fear or trouble crowd my existence, which is very rarely. Usually I am in an animated discourse with the Lord about this and that, or I am usually bugging him for an answer or just in awe of him. Stillness is not a prominent feature of my religious life and the Lord hasn’t led me to doubt my journey.

As I watch my 4-½ year old, run wildly around the house chasing an imaginary animal, whilst screaming at the top of his voice, I can only smile and say, “yeah, he takes after me!”

The power of why.

“But why not?” asks my 4 year old, doesn’t matter regarding what, it’s his classic reply to anything that I tell him not to do.  “Please stop eating grass!” I yell out. “But why not?” is his quick reply.

As I drone about the dangers of eating herbaceous plants, not to mention poisonous weeds, he flits to another activity. At 4 he is curious about anything that moves and catches his fancy, already he has deciphered most of life’s riddles (or so he thinks!).

As I walk him to kindergarten and hear him talk I am amazed at the labels he has generated. The adventure playground, that’s a playground that caters to older kids, is ‘dangerous’. ‘Office’ is where people go to when they leave our home, even if they dropped in for a visit on their way shopping. The police would catch you if you crossed the road without adult supervision! What’s more hilarious is to ask him what happens if the police ‘caught’ you. “You shouldn’t be naughty so they won’t catch you.”

He obviously hadn’t worked that out, his little mind was too innocent to work out the nasty stuff. However, it got me thinking, so this tendency to label, to work out how things work, to make sense of the ways of the world is an innate tendency.

A 4 year old from a loving family, vigilant parents, protective community, and a safe neighbourhood has a need to work out his boundaries, a strong urge to keep himself safe, and the resilience of ‘but why’.

So it got me thinking, why do we have this need to figure things out, is this what makes us human, the power of ‘why’? Rebellion is birthed by why and it is the fundamental force of change for many a government, dictatorship and evil regime. Discovery, invention and evolution all trace their humble beginnings to a simple why.

Why do we question? Why can’t we let things be or like so many of the new age gurus drone on and on, stop worrying about what can not, is not and will not. The reason is plain and simple, we have been engineered to use our brains, as proposed by René Descartes, ‘Cogito ergo sum’, ‘I think therefore I am”.

The ability of thought is fundamental to possessing consciousness, and until the day we die we will do two things, breathe and think. I doubt whether we can choose to do them, in the sense that when we stop doing them we will be essentially dead (physically or mentally), we can however, choose the type of breathing or thinking.

So I hope that my son never stops asking why, as annoying as it may be currently for I know that it is the hallmark of our human spirit. It probably was the reason Adam and Eve got banished from the garden of Eden, for they couldn’t help but wonder why they weren’t supposed to eat the apple.

Hmm, perhaps sometimes we should just let things be?

I am not a feminist and it should not bother someone who is.

For all those who are lining up with a bludger in hand to let me know  ‘why’ they oppose my line of thought, how about you make your self a cuppa and have a read?

To be an active soldier means there is a war, which means that there is conflict. No matter how you look at it, conflict exists because two or more parties partake in the argument. To have an argument all parties have to agree on one aspect, to disagree about a particular point sensitive to both.

Let me explain, Henrietta a scientist stationed in Antarctica believes in aliens, Annabel Louise thinks only whackos would entertain such a thought.  Henrietta and Annabel Louise bump into each other at a community get together in their hometown; they have a wonderful time catching up. There is no conflict. Henrietta and Annabel Louise are both aware of each other’s position on Aliens, both feel very strongly about the topic, however it plays no part in their friendship.

They are more than their opinions on a topic, Henrietta is more than an advocate of Aliens, she is a woman, a scientist, a kind person, etc. and so is Annabel Louise. I am not a feminist because I am not a label and no I don’t believe in all things equal. There is a lot more dynamics at play than just one metric as to intelligence or superiority. I am a lousy doctor (I never went to medical school), xyz is a great doctor because xyz actually studied to be a doctor, and it doesn’t mean that I am an inferior person.

We are not created ‘equal’ but we are created ‘unique’. We should celebrate our individuality not lobby for equality. A friend of mine has a child who has Down syndrome, you won’t find my friend lobbying for equality for her daughter but she does try to ‘educate’ everyone about how wonderful her daughter is.

All this ‘fight’ for equality stems from the need to fit in, for recognition, for acknowledgment. You don’t need all that when you are truly liberated. When you are your own person and not ashamed of who you are then the world doesn’t affect you.

I am a scrooge and I love bargains, I actually get a kick out of savings, I am a clearance shopper. My husband is the exact opposite; he loves designer wear, pays top dollar for everything and always disowns me in public when we are out shopping. Do we argue? In the beginning yes, when we tried to win each other over to the other side. Today, we have come to an understanding that we both have a right to exercise our choices (that does not cross certain lines, fidelity, honesty etc.) without needing each other’s approval.

Life shouldn’t be different, the world is not fair and it’s foolhardy to think that you can get somewhere lobbying about it. True change comes from within, it’s a gradual shift, the community has to come together and effect the change. Women play a great role in shaping the future, as mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, carers, teachers etc. If the world is not a better place then perhaps we should begin looking into our own souls?

You who lobby for women’s lib, do you look down on women who don’t ‘agree’ with your line of thinking or support you? Does the top executive look down on the stay at home mom? More importantly does the stay at home mom feel inadequate because she isn’t climbing the corporate ladder?

Inequalities stem from our own ideas of success, as mothers do we secretly hope that our children will become doctors, noble laureates instead of let say, a truck driver? Who are we to judge that a truck driver is any less of a person than a Nobel laureate? Yet it is the unspoken truth, we are always competing and comparing our children. Step into a playground and you can hear the mothers, “Mine is 18 months and already potty trained!” “My baby has spoken her first word, and she is only 7 months!”

Do you really think your kids don’t hear you?  So early in life they are absorbing this competitive spirit, they are developing this need for approval and public admiration?

So no, I’m not a feminist; I am a woman, ordinary and proud of it. Ordinary to the world but so special to my family and you know what? That’s all that matters.