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Ho'oponopono for Two

Ho'oponopono, which translates as "making things right," was used by the ancient Hawaiians and is utilized today for conflict resolution in families and organizations. Why has this ancient practice persisted? It works! It often addresses complex situations, yet is easy to employ.

Ho'oponopono can also be used by couples to resolve their disagreements and misunderstandings. Basically, here's what you do.

Set aside time when you'll have no distractions. You both agree that during the session, you won't raise your voices, and you will talk in a calm manner and try not to display emotion. No interrupting. It helps to begin with a brief meditation, prayer, or affirmation.

The one who is most upset or unhappy goes first. You face each other, and one talks for five minutes or so, longer if needed, laying out every aspect of what they are perturbed about, saying how it makes them feel, and all that bothers them, every bit of it. The other person is not allowed to speak during that time and listens without visibly reacting.

When that person has said all they want to say, you have a quiet moment. Then the other person speaks in the same way, laying out what they feel and think until all has been said. Again, no interruptions or visible reactions from the other.

Then you can repeat the process if there's more to be said, such as reactions, feelings, and disagreements, or you can begin discussing what to do about it. You can take turns suggesting solutions. "Let me know in the future if I do that and it bothers you." "I will make an effort to change my behavior..." "I'm sorry...I didn't know that irritated you. I'll work on not doing it." "I was under a misconception. Here's what I thought..." And so on.

If there's a transgression of some kind, forgiveness might be asked and is always given.

Decide on concrete actions you will take in the future -- some kind of a plan for keeping the issue resolved. Both of you agree to this plan and you make sure you feel good about it.

The final step is to declare the issue aired and done, that the problem has been dealt with, and all has been made right between you.

You can celebrate with a drink, a meal, a hug or all three. If you are so inclined, begin and end the session with a simple prayer or affirmation.

The following are the formal steps, as set forth in an excellent book by E. Victoria Shook, Ho'oponopono. Please refer to her book for a full exploration of this ritual practice.

Prayer for sincerity and truthfulness
Identifying the problem
Pooling of strengths for a shared purpose
Confession of wrongdoing and seeking of forgiveness
Dealing with the negative entanglement
Releasing the conflict
Summary of what occurred and reaffirming bonds
Closing prayer
Sharing a meal

In the formal process, there is a mediator who helps all the parties stay on track. This is for serious conflicts. A disagreement or difficulty between a couple can usually be dealt with by just the two of you, but if it's something really serious and longstanding, a counselor will be needed.

One of you can "call for" a ho'oponopono, and the other, if sincerely wanting to further the relationship, should always agree. Sometimes only one of you will have a grievance and the other might not be aware of it, so it's a useful way to heighten awareness and be sensitive to each other's needs.

Opening: We come to this process with love and sincerity, and we ask for truth, understanding, and healing.

Closing: May the understanding we gained today illuminate our lives and strengthen our bond, with love.

With aloha, Mahina

1: The Movement of Jealousy
2: Be Always Glad
3: The Three Selves
4. Finding Authenticity

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