Before kava kava became a trendy herbal remedy, it was an essential part of a community ritual throughout Polynesia. The islanders believed that remaining angry for more than two days could cause illness — not just for oneself but for everyone near and dear. Holding a grudge could decimate a whole community!
So they developed the elaborate practice of pounding the plant roots for hours to produce a mash, mixing it with water, and drinking the kava kava according to a prescribed ritual. The ceremony did as much to foster amity as did the herb itself.
Kava kava is known for creating a feeling of calm and relaxation while maintaining mental alertness. It also numbs the lips and tongue. It’s hard to speak in anger when your mouth can’t form the words!
What Westerners often fail to comprehend is the Polynesian world view that underlies this and other ceremonial practices, a world view that encompasses the unity of all things. One way the community members would take responsibility for each others’ health was by ritually quelling their anger. Another was by confession. Because they believed social unrest could cause not only illness but crop failure or natural disasters, harmony could be restored only by way of a formal apology.
In Hawai’i this practice is called “Hoʻoponopono” and is loosely defined as “mental cleansing.” Families would hold “conferences in which relationships were set right through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness.”
This concept has of course been adapted for Westerners. One current Hoʻoponopono practitioner, Dr. Hew Len, advocates “taking 100% responsibility” for everyone’s actions, not only your own. Then everything you see, hear, taste, touch, or in any way experience would be your responsibility because it is part of your life.
Sounds like a tall order! To get to a state where your ego identity — that harsh, judgmental, striving, often conniving inner voice that is always pitting You against Them — would be silent, Dr. Len calls for “constantly repeating” this mantra:
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you."
Constantly repeating?? That seemed excessive.
Then I got in my car.
I found I couldn’t drive to the grocery store without repeating that mantra 5 or 6 times, as I caught myself passing (unflattering) judgments on the drivers around me. I would take a few moments each time to let the feeling of forgiveness sink in.
Imagine how much forgiveness could flow during a daily commute!
When I say “Please forgive me … I love you,” I’m talking to my Inner Critic. But I’m also appealing to what many would call my Higher Self. That Higher Self, in turn, is part of what some call a Universal Intelligence — following the chain up to where duality disappears and everything is connected as one.
So in a roundabout way I’m also talking to your Inner Critic. Please forgive me. I love you.
Christin Whittington is a practitioner of energy medicine – helping people restore balance in their bodies, their health and their lives using a combination of Reiki, Reflexology, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Qi Gong and herbal medicine.