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Pono: Hawaiian for Unconditional Love
Loving yourself and others go hand-in-hand
By Dr. Matthew B. James
...... I teach Huna, the ancient Hawaiian system of energy and healing. One of the fundamental principles of Huna is that we become “pono” with ourselves.
Pono is a Hawaiian word that means to make things right — not as in “I’m right, you’re wrong,” but right with each other and the situation. Pono is a feeling of congruency and calmness to the extent that nothing needs to be said. When applied to your feelings about yourself, to become pono is to love yourself unconditionally.
If you constantly criticize yourself, you undermine your efforts to improve yourself. Only when you overcome negative emotions and limiting beliefs about yourself can you truly become pono in a way that empowers you to achieve your goals and be pono with others.
The Huna process of forgiveness is called ho`oponopono, which literally means to make something doubly pono. In doing research for my dissertation, I found that those who engaged in ho‘oponopono experienced a statistically significant reduction in unforgiveness compared to a control group.
This research was the first time ho‘oponopono has been studied as a process-based approach to forgiveness. It validated this method as an effective therapeutic approach for improving relationships and mental health.
There are many different approaches to ho'oponopono. My book, The Foundation of Huna: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times, focuses on a process used for hundreds of years within the lineage that I carry.
This form of ho'oponopono takes place on the mental plane — you mentally disconnect from the old way of being with a person and then create a new relationship. This is an ancient variant on the modern process known as Neuro Linquistic Programming, or NLP. NLP is a set of guiding principles, attitudes, and techniques that allows a person to change, adopt or eliminate behaviors and choose mental, emotional, and physical states of wellbeing.
Sometimes it seems easier to change our feelings about other people than it is to let go of long-held negative feelings about ourselves. One way to do both is to realize that negative emotions towards ourselves and others are two sides of the same coin.
When you look in the mirror, what do you say to yourself? Most of us talk worse to ourselves than we ever do to others. You cannot do that and be pono. Yet being pono is key to breaking the hold that negative self-talk and limiting decisions have on our ability to grow and change. In the same way, as we release negative emotions about ourselves, it frees us to truly love others.
If this sounds like just a bunch of self-affirmation, think of this: When you are on an airplane and the flight attendant gives the safety talk, they always say: “If an emergency occurs, make sure you put a mask on yourself before you put it on someone else.” There is a reason for that.
It’s the same with parents and other caregivers. I have two kids and I know that in order to take care of my kids, I have to take care of myself. In fact, each reinforces the other.
The better I care for myself, the better I am able to care for others. And the more I love myself and others, the easier it is for me to be gracious, forgiving and truly pono.
At its essence, Ho‘oponopono is grounded in the idea of unconditional love. Forgiveness is not just a byproduct of learning to love unconditionally — it is a requirement for learning to truly love others and ourselves.
About the Author: Dr. James is President of Kona University. 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 the one of the last practicing kahuna of mental health and wellbeing. Dr. James is among 20 top experts in the fields of medicine, nutrition, weight loss, spirituality and the mind featured in The Inner Weigh™, a new documentary that shares secrets to permanent weight reduction without deprivation and negative body image.
My notes :
Being comes first
Know your purpose
Forgive , heal and move on