By: Jenny Stulck, MS, LPCA
In my early twenties, I fulfilled a dream of mine and became a raft guide on the New and Gauley rivers of West Virginia. Last month the areas surrounding those rivers have been severely flooded. On social media I watched as friends in West Virginia posted photos of people who had lost their homes, lost their cars, and some lost loved ones. I am reminded, again, how powerful water is. I grew an immense respect for the waters as a raft guide. I believe the waters are a teacher of ancient lessons. In my journey to the Ganges River in India, I watched as people prayed day and night at the banks of the river. In West Virginia I learned how to read the water, how to respect it, how to work with it. In India I learned how to be in sacrament with it. One has to work with the water, never against it. Water must be accepted.
Water is our life force. We cannot survive as humans on this planet without it. We need it for our bodies. We use it for our washing. We use it to move our sewage. We swim in it when we are hot. We play in it because it’s fun.
A therapeutic group I like to run is based around water and the practice of Ho’oponopono. Ho’opononpono is an ancient Hawaiian practice of forgiveness. It essentially means: I am sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.
For this therapy group, I bring a singing bowl full of water and play the singing bowl to center everyone. I show them the patterns that emerge in the water as the singing bowl rings. We discuss water, the mystery, the need, the beauty and the destruction it serves. I ask the students, “What is your relationship with water?” Invariably, students describe a relationship where they are receiving from water, rarely are they giving to water. I ask them, “Is there any other relationship in your life, like the one you have with water?” Often, someone in the group says the relationship with their parents is like that of the one they have with water. We talk about the similarities of these relationships. The ways in which parents have provided them with food and shelter, love, lessons, and how as children they were unable to take care of themselves. They needed their parents for survival. This is often an emotional group for students, as they reflect the ways they have been ungrateful in the past. I share with them a song that are the words: Ho’oponopono, Ho’oponopono. I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, thank you.
We talk about the practice of Ho’oponopono. The practice starts with yourself, and then ripples out to the other people in your life. The practice is to find within yourself the love and ability to forgive and accept that forgiveness. Ho’oponopono starts with the willingness to love and be loved. Many students arrive at Pacific Quest who have lost a connection with their inner self love. Water, and our relationship to it, is a reminder of the reflection we need to take in order to find peace within ourselves.