No sooner did I sink my teeth into comments by Peter and Diana on my article Managing Stress: It’s Not Just How You Look At It, in which we debate where the lines exist between internal and external locus of control, than I read an article by Dr. Joe Vitale about a Hawaiian therapist, Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, who blows the whole distinction out of the water.
Dr. Len practices Ho’Oponopono. Dr. Vitale describes Dr. Len’s work in a ward for the criminally insane:
[Dr.Len] agreed to have an office and to review their files. While he looked at those files, he would work on himself. As he worked on himself, patients began to heal.
“I was simply healing the part of me that created them,” Dr. Len said. “I just kept saying, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I love you’ over and over again,” he explained. [as he sat in his office, reading their files]
He reported that as he continued this practice, there were actually significant reports of improvement in the ward. So much so in fact, that the ward ultimately was closed. According to Dr. Len’s viewpoint, the division between internal and external simply isn’t relevant. It’s all internal. Ken Wilber discusses the same issue at length in No Boundary, as do many philosophers and spiritual teachers of more Eastern traditions.
It’s a fascinating view to consider and as I reflect further on the article, I realize that, even though Dr. Len’s approach sounds a little too out there for me to want to hang a hat on it, there is a place I can meet him at least half way.
You may have heard of the psychological concept of projection. I’ve heard many people refer to this in statements such as, “When you are angry at yourself, you are probably reacting to something in yourself that you don’t like.”
Being my own favorite guinea pig, I have made my own mind a course of study for a few years now and I have found, at first to my dismay and now to my amusement, that this is true. It is so often true, I have learned to look at myself first, when I am hurt, angry, sad, frustrated or otherwise ruffled by someone, to figure out what issue the spotlight is being shined on.
I rarely fail to find something and, wouldn’t you know, once I handle my own stuff, the other person’s role barely registers a bleep on my “you are making me crazy and now I have to kill you-o-meter.”
The end result for myself has been that I have become an unusually calm woman for an oldest daughter of fiery Greek heritage who was formerly known for her sharp tongue and super fine Evil Eye. It almost ain’t natural and yet, it’s very genuine.
What intrigues me about Dr. Len’s work is that while looking at others as a reflection of our own potential states, and that doing internal work can be healing for oneself, I never considered whether this work might have an actual healing influence on others as well.
I have long recognized that as humans, we are all capable of many acts both beautiful and compassionate and amazingly selfish and hurtful. Under the right circumstances (or maybe the wrong ones), I think anyone could be pushed to murder.
I don’t know that purely evil people exist any more than purely good people do. When we recognize the capacities for “good and evil” within ourselves, it becomes easier to understand one another.
With understanding comes a greater chance for peace. With self-understanding comes a greater chance for inner peace. But this piece about self-love and forgiveness literally bringing healing to someone else — it’s going to take a while for me to really wrap my mind around that.
It’s interesting for me, on another level, as well. As a student of Dahn Yoga, this practice, as Dr. Len describes it in the quote above, is one we engage in also, although we direct it toward ourselves rather than externally (at least at this point; maybe the instructors are laying the groundwork for this to extend outward).
Guess I’ll take that practice a little more to heart. I don’t know how fully I buy into this yet, but what could it possibly hurt?