What is ho’oponopono?
Ho’oponopno comes from an ancient healing practice from Hawaii and other South Pacific islands. It’s a powerful practice that can transform and heal our relationship with ourselves, others, and the world.
In its modern version, it consists of four sentences:
I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you.
How can I explore it for myself?
Say the four sentences to anything or anyone you wish to heal your relationship with. Visualize them in front of you. Say it out loud or silently.
(This practice is for yourself so if you are doing it for someone in your life, you don’t need to mention to them that you are doing this.)
You can say it during a time set aside for this, before falling asleep or after waking up, or any time during the day. Repeat several times.
Over time, it can become a continuous and mostly wordless prayer.
You can do it for people in your life, both the ones you like and dislike. For yourself as a whole. For parts of you like physical issues, your body, emotions, emotional issues, or a repeating behavior. For challenging situations, whether they are personal or in the wider world. For Earth as a whole and all life. And for anyone suffering.
It may be easier to first do it for someone in your life you easily like and love, and when you are familiar with the process do it for yourself and anything and anyone else. It can be especially powerful and transformative to do it for anyone suffering and for whatever in your world you dislike or have trouble with.
If you wish, take it as an experiment. Try it and see what happens.
What do I do if I notice resistance?
We may notice some resistance when we do this for someone or something we have a troubled relationship with. It’s natural and part of the process. It shows us that healing is needed and – likely – happening as part of doing ho’o for it.
If the resistance is strong, you can shift and do ho’o for this resistance. When you notice your relationship to the resistance has healed a bit and feels softer, you can go back to what you initially did ho’o for.
What’s the effect?
In my experience, it helps me heal my relationship with whatever I do it for. It feels right. There is a sense of peace. It’s easier to have some understanding for myself and/or the other.
I can still take action when and as needed. I can still act to prevent harm. We don’t need to condone any harmful behavior. It’s about me finding more peace with what is and this helps me take more clear and decisive actions.
It helps me, and it also helps the world. I become less of a nuisance. I may show that there is another way of being. I may act in ways helpful to others.
Ho’o is something I do for myself and the world.
How does ho’oponopno work?
It’s mainly about trying it for ourselves and see what happens. So the question of how it works is perhaps less important but I’ll mention a few things.
It helps me shift into forgiveness and love. It opens that possibility. And that, in itself, is healing.
It helps me heal my relationship with whatever I do it for, and that feels right and healing.
As a human being, the world as it appears to me is a mirror of me. So it makes sense to take responsibility for it all and find healing in how I relate to it.
If I find healing for my relationship to someone or something in the wider world, it tends to heal my relationship to whatever is similar in myself. And the other way around.
As capacity for the world, the world – as it appears to me – happens within and as what I am. So it makes sense to ask for forgiveness when I see suffering and let these parts of my world know I love them.
How do you see ho’oponopno in relation to other practices?
Ho’oponopono is one of several heart-centered practices – similar to tonglen, metta, heart prayer, and more.
For me, these heart practices are central. They can be profoundly transforming, and they support healing, awakening, embodiment, and being a slightly more helpful part of the world.
How do you use it?
I have gone through periods where I use it a lot throughout the day and other periods where I use it now and then. When I use it a lot, it tends to become an ongoing and often silent prayer. These days, I tend to use it when I notice I have an uneasy relationship with someone or something.
It doesn’t mean all my relationships are healed. There is always more. And it certainly doesn’t mean I am perfect, whatever that means. But it does mean that I have a tool that can be very helpful in challenging situations. And it means I am working on a lot of what’s coming up in my life.
Image by me and Midjourney, 2023