Ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiin forgiveness practice that is incredibly powerful for healing, growth, and transformation.
A mature and integrated spiritual path requires that we work with the ways that energy gets stuck inside of us and prevents us from growing and evolving in our capacity for deeper love and wisdom.
It’s believed, for good reason, that forgiveness is the ultimate spiritual practice. Likely because it is SO hard to let go of those things that aren’t serving us and forgive both ourselves and others.
Although it may be a spiritual practice, the absence of forgiveness impacts our physical and emotional health because of the effect the spat or long-term resentment has on our nervous system. The John Hopkins Medicine article, Forgiveness: Your Health Depends On It explores this further.
Forgiveness is a transformative experience that enables us to release the energy and toxic emotions that live inside of us. It’s an alchemical inner process that integrates the body, mind, and heart.
Through a gentle process, we harness our personal power and let go of the Soul-sapping effects of anger, resentment, and bitterness that erodes our health, inner peace, and the quality of our lives.
It’s important to approach forgiveness from the perspective that we have a dual nature. Meaning we’re spiritual beings having a human experience.
This post focuses on the spiritual nature of forgiveness.
In a previous post, Learning How to Forgive Will Free Your Heart And Expand Your Soul I share why it’s important to not jump too quickly to spiritual practice. When we bypass the story and emotions, there’s a big risk of denying and turning away from how we’re feeling because it feels so uncomfortable. If we jump to forgiveness without first feeling the hurt and telling our story, we are bypassing a vital step in the process and we will stay stuck in the hurt.
Once we’ve gone through the forgiveness steps as outlined in the previous post, we’re ready to enlist the help of the divine, universe, or whatever we call that something bigger.
From a spiritual perspective, we view all of our experiences as an opportunity to grow both psychologically and spiritually.
We realize that everything that happens to us is happening for us and is giving us an opportunity to grow and heal, returning to that place of wholeness.
How does the Ho’oponopono practice work?
The ho’oponopono practice is deeply spiritual in its underlying premise that situations and people are present in our lives in order to heal something within us.
It stems from the belief that we are all connected by one conscious mind and that when something is triggered in us, it means something within us needs to be healed.
This forgiveness practice reminds us that we are not victims of our lives and how people treat us. Rather, we co-create our lives, and by changing ourselves, we create a ripple of healing in the world, starting with ourselves.
It is a powerful practice to shift us out of victim consciousness and into accepting responsibility for our lives.
The ho’oponopono mantra consists of four simple phrases – I’m sorry, please forgive me, I thank you, and I love you.
In the book Zero Limits: The Secret Hawaiian System for Wealth, Health, Peace, and More the author explained that “Ho’oponopono is really very simple. For the ancient Hawaiians, all problems begin as thought. But having a thought is not the problem. So what’s the problem? The problem is that all our thoughts are imbued with painful memories—memories of persons, places or things. The intellect working alone can’t solve these problems, because the intellect only manages. Managing things is no way to solve problems. You want to let them go! When you do Ho’oponopono, what happens is that the Divinity takes the painful thought and neutralizes or purifies it. You don’t purify the person, place, or thing. You neutralize the energy you associate with that person, place, or thing” (2007, pp. 33-34).
This book really stretched my thinking and I was fascinated to learn that research has also validated the effectiveness of the Ho’oponopon practice as shared in Psychology Today.
The following video provides a brief overview of both the ho’oponopono mantra and how it works to heal and forgive both ourselves and others.
What is the meaning of this ho’oponopono mantra?
The first thing to realize is that when you’re repeating the mantra you are not directing it to yourself or the other person, you are directing it to whatever force/power/energy/spirit, etc. that you believe in.
The 4-phrase mantra is:
- “I’m sorry” for the part I have played in creating this situation. I am not a victim, I am responsible for what is showing up in my life. I am sorry that we are experiencing this and I accept and acknowledge my role in it.
- “Please forgive me” for my part in this. I realize that I have responded in ways that I don’t feel good about and that isn’t my true nature of love and compassion.
- “Thank you” for this situation/experience that has created an opportunity for me to heal and explore what about myself has manifested this in my life? It may be painful, but thank you for the opportunity to grow and move closer to my true nature.
- “I love you” is the energy of healing that arises from the level of our heart, not the head. When we stay in our heads, we will never experience true forgiveness and healing. We will never be at peace.
Here’s a guided meditation that leads you through the process:
If you feel called, please comment below. Our community would love to hear from you!
(Original publication Dec. 14, 2014; Updated Nov. 16, 2021)