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Forgiveness Practice for Lawyers: Compelling Results From a Simple Process

A forgiveness practice for lawyers? We might ask why this is necessary or even helpful.

Do you ever come across something so mind blowing that you want to tell everyone? Have you come across something that is so powerful, transforming, and beautiful, that you feel the need to share it with all that you love?

Gandhi said that:

Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment.

I have almost always described myself as a person that engages in numerous powerful habits and practices. I get up early. I practice my gratitude. I tell the people I love that I love them. I create and re-create my relationships all the time. I respect and care for the people I work with. I believe in compassion. I eat well. I take care of my body. The list goes on. Yet, I can say that this seemingly simple and easy meditation technique is probably the single most powerful practice I have ever engaged in in my entire life. No kidding. 

What is this forgiveness practice?  It is called Ho’oponopono. I believe that if it is utilized as a forgiveness practice for lawyers that it will have a positive impact on our profession.

And why a forgiveness practice for lawyers? It is because it is a key ingredient in making us the best we can be. It makes us better people, better lawyers, better parents, better bosses and better spouses.

It is such an easy process too.

Just because it is easy and simple, however, should not be confused with the awesome transformative power that it represents. It is incredibly effective.

It is also totally counterintuitive at first and it might not even make sense. I say, who cares, and do it anyway. It is totally worth it. 

I have been doing Ho’oponopono as a practice every day for 10 minutes for the last year and a half or so. The transformative power of this practice started within 10 days of doing it. Now, the results are transformative in a way that I never could have even comprehended as possible. 

Try it and see what happens in your life and the lives of those around you. As a forgiveness practice for lawyers, I think it works.

Forgiveness Practice for Lawyers (And Others):

What is Ho'oponopono 

In short Ho’oponopono, it is a practice of forgiveness and reconciliation. My understanding is that it is an ancient practice that originated in Hawaii. Although it has been practiced on a societal level (groups of people practicing healing and forgiveness of each other), it can also be used on an individual basis. 

As a forgiveness practice for lawyers, it can be used to affect our clients, opposing counsel on matters, our staff, and opposing parties.

"Hoʻoponopono" is defined in the Hawaiian Dictionary as "mental cleansing: family conferences in which relationships were set right through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness."

I do not, of course, pretend to be any kind of expert on this practice. I can say that it is a forgiveness practice for lawyers in that it applies to us. We can totally transform our lives with it. In my life, it has had amazing and beautiful results. 

I feel way calmer, more balanced, and full of love. It is a good place to be. I feel more present in my day and am able to feel joy in a way I had not felt for a very very long time. I am also continuing on my journey of decreasing some of my unhealthy habits.

Yes, of course I do slip from time to time. Resentment and anger towards other lawyers that I feel are difficult comes into the picture. I sometimes feel anger towards others when I think they are being difficult, unfair or unreasonable. The answer to that of course is to do more of this simple forgiveness practice for lawyers.

Ho'oponopono demonstrates and allows us to establish harmony in our relationships by establishing harmony between our own bodies, minds and spirits.

A ridiculously simple forgiveness practice for lawyers?

Although this forgiveness practice is for anyone, for our purposes, it is a forgiveness practice for lawyers that has an awesome result. It is totally simple really. The first step is that you focus on someone that you are out of alignment with.  This could be an opposing lawyer on a file, an opposing party on a file, your own client, a judge, or even your own spouse. Alternatively, you can focus on someone that you feel needs help. You can even focus on groups of people or our planet as a whole. You can even focus on yourself. Focus on whatever moves you.

Once you have decided who or what to focus upon, you state the following things in sequence (not verbally but in your mind): 

I am sorry for the pain I have caused you in this life, in past lives, and all the pain my ancestors have caused others.

Please forgive me for the pain I have caused you in this life, in past lives, and all the pain my ancestors have caused others.

I love you.

Thank you for coming into my life and teaching me what I am learning about having you in my life. 

Then you state the following things in sequence repeatedly:

I am sorry

Please forgive me

I love you

Thank you

That is it.

Seriously.

Let’s go through the purpose of each statement. Although I have written about the purpose of each statement here, there are very different interpretations as to what each statement means and what each statement’s purpose is. I am not suggesting that I am an expert in this in any way. I just know that as a forgiveness practice for lawyers it is powerful, transformative, and life changing.

I believe that it really does not matter if we do not get the interpretation exactly “right”. What matters is that we do the practice itself.

This may all sound totally flaky at first, I suggest you simply try it and see what happens before passing any judgment.

I am sorry

Saying “I am sorry” when you are really angry at someone may seem totally counter-intuitive. When you say you are sorry, you are not suggesting that the conflict or pain is your fault necessarily (although it may be). You are simply taking responsibility for the fact that we are all connected and that any disharmony in someone else is also as a result of the disharmony in you.  This is particularly important as a forgiveness practice for lawyers because of our adversarial system. We have no end to situations to where we feel people have done us or our clients wrong.

Gandhi believed that all of the wars, conflict, starvation, and abuse on our planet are caused first by the conflict and disharmony that we all experience within ourselves. He believed that in order for us to change the world to be peaceful, that we had to move towards being harmonious within ourselves. Gandhi said “be the change you want to see in the world.” I believe that the Hoʻoponopono practice can help with that.

As divorce lawyers we have a huge impact on our clients and their families. It is our responsibility, I think, to make that impact as good as possible.

We say we are sorry as a forgiveness practice for lawyers because we are taking responsibility for healing the discord within ourselves so that the discord in the world may be healed.

When I say sorry, I think of any pain I may have caused to the person I am concentrating on. I am sorry for any pain I may have caused in a past life, and I am sorry for any pain my ancestors may have caused my subject’s ancestors.

Please forgive me

I always start this part of the practice with "please forgive me for the pain I have caused in this life, in past lives, and the pain my ancestors have caused others."

Some would say that we ask for forgiveness for having forgotten how much the Creator loves us and for having shut out the Creator from our lives. I am not sure if I am in that place yet in terms of focusing on the “Creator”.

Once again, I do not know if it is important to focus on the reasons for why Hoʻoponopono works and what the reasons are for each statement. The important part is just doing it. It is the practice of it that makes us the best we can be.

Rather than think about the “Creator” I think about this process in a different way. I simply practice it and do not judge what I am doing, how it is working, what the meaning of each word is and so on. The rest comes.

I focus on hoping that the person or people can be released from the pain and trap of being angry, resentful, ill etc.

Again, this may seem counter-intuitive, particularly when you feel that you have done nothing wrong. Used in this way it is a forgiveness practice for lawyers it is about us being connected and in balance with ourselves and others rather than being about blaming anyone or thinking anyone is at fault. If there is an imbalance within ourselves, the imbalance affects the world around us. 

“Please forgive me” is about your wish to have fellow human beings be released from emotional pain or sickness.

I love you

This one is my favourite. I focus on the person and say “I love you” in my mind repeatedly. This part of the forgiveness practice for lawyers can be particularly challenging. For some people that I focus on, to acknowledge my love for them is very difficult at first. Really difficult. 

When I have felt wronged by somebody, or betrayed, getting to the “I love you” part may take some time before I really mean it. The amazing part is that over time, no matter how hurt I have been, I start to feel feelings of love. When I do this part of the practice, I know I am there when I feel the physical sensation of warmth in my heart and chest. Yes, this really happens.

Ho’oponopono helps bring you into the relationship with the other person. Realizing the connection to others is a significant part of why the forgiveness practice for lawyers is so transformative.

Thank you

This is about saying thank you for the lessons that you have learned as a result of this conflict, or situation. This is about saying thank you for the opportunity to grow as a human being. This is about being grateful for the opportunity for learning. Throughout our lives as lawyers, learning is a continual process. Such a forgiveness practice for lawyers makes us grateful rather than resentful of people who have come into our lives and practices and challenged us.

No matter how much something or someone has hurt us, if we look at it realizing that all difficult things in life are sent our way to help us learn and become better people, that we can be grateful for the experience and learning.

My Story

I learned the power of Hoʻoponopono for healing when I applied it to the sadness and devastation I felt when I had been betrayed. Although I do not need to get into the specifics here, let’s just say I continue to reel in pain at a very deep level. Even as I write this, the shock continues.

I spent months and months obsessing about it. It turned my insides out. The pain was so excruciating that, at times, I thought it was going to literally flatten me. Really.

Before this happened, I thought I had felt pain before; I had not felt pain like this. It was exponential compared to anything I had ever felt.

As a result of this betrayal, I lost a whole bunch of innocence. Trust that I had taken as a given was destroyed. Where I thought I was a leader, I ended up being deeply embarrassed and humiliated. It felt impossible to hold my head up.

It was a crushing blow. It was all I thought about. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other and move forward in my life, continue with my work, and continue raising a sweet daughter.

Every morning I woke up with the feeling of a deep hole in my chest. I felt a continuous weight on my being and my soul. I felt continuously filthy. Despite oodles of therapy, no matter how much I tried to heal, the weight remained with me each day.

It also triggered feelings of abuse that I experienced as a child.

I only talk about this to demonstrate the significant impact of what I had to deal with.

So, what did I do?

At the suggestion of my therapist (to whom I remain very grateful) I began this practice. Now I want to share it as a forgiveness practice for lawyers.

I began the practice of Ho’oponopono. Although I have more Ho’oponopono to practice in relation to the feelings of betrayal, I have begun to feel deep compassion for what happened. I feel love and connection. I feel more and more healed everyday. Feeling the connection and bond (rather than resentment and fury) has been one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had. I want this to be shared as a forgiveness practice for lawyers who practice in the area of family law and other areas.

It has truly been healing me. I have been able to direct love at the situation. I have been genuinely grateful for what has happened as I have learned the depth of my love. I have literally incorporated the feelings of “I am sorry” “Please forgive me” “I love you” and “thank you” to a situation that has been (and continues to be at times) devastatingly painful.

As I do this practice, I have moved from a place of sheer anger and resentment, to one of love and compassion.

Although I slip from time to time (and then do more Ho’oponopono), I feel deep in my being that this easy meditation technique is what is necessary to heal.

I mean all of this. No matter how much all of this has hurt, I am grateful for the lessons this has taught me, and how it has allowed me to grow. I have learned about love in a way that I had never understood. I am literally blown away by the gifts that these hard lessons have taught me. Other websites offer information about this powerful practice of Ho'oponopono.

So I continue.

I am sorry.

Please forgive me.

I love you.

Thank you.

By Val Hemminger, lawyer 

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Val has created this website to share with her colleagues. She  is not suggesting, by any means, that she is the best divorce lawyer out there. She is, however, suggesting that she is the best divorce lawyer that she herself can be. Feel free to share anything you find useful.