Just in time for the holidays: Ho’oponopono, the Hawaiian practice of forgiveness

By Heather Bergstrom, LAc

The holidays are here and while the holidays can be a beautiful and joyous time of year, they can also bring about tremendous stress. There is the stress of hustle and bustle, stress of stretching the budget to allow for purchasing gifts, and stress of prolonged family interactions. Let’s look at each of these stressors and see if there may be something you can do to ease stress and make your season more calm and bright.

The stress of hustle and bustle can be dealt with by organizing errands and giving yourself permission to say no to the outside world and yes to your own peace of mind. Make a list and group errands together to be completed all at once. Give yourself space for mental rest. If you have a particularly busy day ahead, be sure to set aside time, even just 15 minutes to allow quiet and stillness. Meditate. Go for a quiet walk in nature. Read something inspirational. Be aware of your own needs and prioritize time for yourself.

The stress of stretching your budget for gift-giving is eased by remembering that your value or worth is not proven or displayed in the gifts that you give. And equally, your material gift does not convey the depth of care or love you have for the person to whom you are giving. Gifts are an expression of appreciation and it doesn’t take much to show someone you appreciate them. For example, a letter expressing your appreciation is a gift that most people would never forget. Keep it simple and sincere.

We love our families. We really do. But sometimes they drive us nuts! Your family can push your buttons so well because they are the ones that helped to create them in the first place! If you have a family that is toxic to you, say no. Prioritize your mental health and safety. If you have a family that isn’t toxic but raises your stress level, then set some boundaries. Stay away from discussions that will trigger high emotion and resentment. Limit your time with them. Take deep full breaths and ground yourself through the soles of your feet. In your alone time, practice Ho’oponopono, the Hawaiian practice of forgiveness. This can be directed toward yourself or someone else. The words are:

I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.

These words can be repeated in your mind, chanted aloud, or (my favorite) sung in repetition. Allow yourself to feel the profundity of the words. You can search online for Ho’oponopono as a guided meditation or song.

This holiday season, decrease stress by making yourself your priority. Set boundaries. Practice forgiveness. Connect with the meaning of the holidays and set the intention to give peace to yourself this season.

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