The first time I visited The Esalen Institute in Big Sur was in the Fall of 2016 with my graduate studies program. Since the program was essential birthed on those grounds we had always been welcome there in the Fall. There is a beautiful canyon trail on the grounds with a stream running out to meet the great Pacific. The entrance to the trail is marked by a a small wooden gate as a threshold letting anyone who enters that this canyon is a quiet place, a place of peace. It was here that I first had a conscious experience of a request from the Earth. I was asked to remove my shoes as I began to walk along the trail. It was damp, and slightly muddy in areas, but the message was clear, I was on sacred grounds, and it was my honor to remove my shoes before I went any further. As I began walking, a mantra came to my mind. I’m sorry, Thank You, I love you, Please forgive me. I am not sure of the exact order of the expressions, but with each step up the canyon trail, I silently repeated these words. I realized this was a message to the Earth:
I’m sorry for all we have done to you, I Thank You for all you have given, I Love You, Please Forgive me.
When I later shared this experience with a friend, they told me that is an ancient Hawaiian practice of Forgiveness called Ho’oponopono: I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you. I had never heard of this prior, but it often just happens for me naturally now when I am hiking or trail running. With each breathe or step I begin to silently repeat this mantra.
This mornings meditation on mental noting reminded me of this experience, and when Sharon suggested we may link a word to our breath I slipped into this mantra. However, this morning something was different. In the past when I have begun this mantra, I have been walking in Nature, and my expression was focused outwardly, towards the Earth. Yet this morning, as I was in seated meditation, I realize that this mantra connected my body with the Earth as one. We are ALL the Earth.
I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you
Silently repeating this mantra with my breathe this morning gave me the awareness that I am always trying to bring into an embodied understanding, I am the Earth. We are ALL the Earth. What a blessing to be able to feel this in a somatic way.