by Karen Hilfman Millson


Last summer I was introduced to a spiritual practice that I have experienced as significantlyhelpful. My understanding is that it comes from Hawaii. While I was there this spring for a spiritual pilgrimage with 77 people from all over the world, it was gently woven into our experience. It is an ancient form of prayer that is simple yet profound, rooted in the awareness and understandingthat we are one; all energies are connected so each part has the power to impact other parts.


There are four steps in this practice that can be used in whatever order feels appropriate to the person or the circumstance. All four phrases are used each time, spoken either in our hearts orquietly to ourselves but sometimes beyond as I share in one example below. The four phrases are:“Thank you”, “I’m sorry”, “Please forgive me”, “I love you”. These can be repeated anytime,anywhere we notice wounds or brokenness in ourselves and in the world. This practice is based on the understanding that since we are one, we are part of the brokenness and therefore can be partof the healing – within ourselves and on behalf of all of us.


Recently I discovered that I had triggered a strong wave of anger in someone. Though I did not know or understand what I had done to cause this anger or what old pain I had triggered, Iwrote a letter based on this practice to include the four phrases: “Thank you for bringing to myattention that you felt hurt; I am so sorry that you experienced that hurt; Please forgive me for anypart in me or my actions that added to your pain; I so appreciate all the wonderful gifts you bringand want you to know you are loved”. After writing the letter I experienced a shift in me. When Isent the letter the overwhelming anger directed at me dissipated allowing us to honour ourcommitment to grow a healthy life-giving relationship.


I have discovered that this is a practice that often needs to be repeated in regard to a particular person or situation until we feel a shift in us. Repeating it gives us the opportunity to clear whatever it is in us that is adding to the energy of the brokenness.


I decided to try this practice in a simple, innocuous situation. We have a person in ourcommunity who is known to be the loudest of all grumblers. Anytime I see him or think of him Isay this prayer, often imagining him surrounded by a bubble of love. His gruff ways havecontinued, but the things he says have changed and become quite funny. I watch him make others laugh now rather than groan.


I used this practice for myself again in the early hours of today upon waking up at 3 a.m. Itell people that 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. is God time so if we are awakened during those hours, relax, it is a time when God wants to communicate with us and we won’t end up tired from time with God. Irelaxed and I listened and I experienced an insight that was very helpful. And then I began to fuss. At 4:45 it was clear this was no longer God and me time. I was now taking control and addingworry which was fuelling my wakefulness. So I used this spiritual practice. I focused on myanxiousness saying, “Thank you for trying to imagine how this insight will be lived out. I’m sorry if you feel you have to fuss about it. Please forgive me for laying this expectation on you over the

years that you have to make sure, on your own, that everything will work out. I love you. You areprofoundly loved by God just the way you are. Be open to that love and trust the wisdom that is,and will be, there to guide you. Thank you”……and then I repeated the pattern.  The need to imagine the many ways this issue would or could be dealt with began to dissipate …so I gently said:“Now stop and go to sleep”…. and I did.


Opening ourselves to prayer and spiritual practices is a gift that we give to ourselves and to others. For me it is a path to that place deep within where we encounter our authentic self and the divine. There we connect to the energy and wisdom at the core of our being that longs to riseup and engage our hearts and this world with the transforming power of creativity and love.