Ho’oponopono — The Hawaiian Self-Healing Method
Ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian spiritual practice and a healing method. Sometimes described as a “teaching about forgiveness,” ho’oponopono has traditionally been used by Hawaiian families as a practice of apology and reconciliation. Through the practice of ho’oponopono, one re-establishes balance and self-love. Ho’oponopono restores harmony in one’s relationship with self, others and the world at large.
Today, the ho’oponopono method has gained worldwide popularity. Ho’oponopono masters and practitioners often tell a truly miraculous story about the power of this method. This is a story about Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len, a Hawaiian psychiatrist assigned to treat a ward of mentally ill criminals at the Hawaii State Hospital. Unlike his predecessors, many of whom had left their jobs in despair, unable to deal with the extremely hostile environment, Dr. Len did not engage with his patients in the traditional face-to-face manner. Instead, he read the records of each inmate, connected with them on a subconscious level, empathized with their stories, and healed all of them by healing his own inner wounds first. Without ever meeting any of the patients, he healed all of them. Dr. Len explained, “I was simply healing the part of me that created them.”
Etymologically, the word ho’oponopono means “to cause things to move back in balance” or “to make things right.” More precisely, according to the Hawaiian Dictionary, ho’oponopono means:
“(a) To put to rights; to put in order or shape, correct, revise, adjust, amend, regulate, arrange, rectify, tidy up, make orderly or neat, administer, superintend, supervise, manage, edit, work carefully and neatly; to make ready, as canoemen preparing to catch a wave.
(b) Mental cleansing: family conferences in which relationship were set right (ho’oponopono) through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness.”
Practicing the ho’oponopono method leads to a shift away from negative thinking, and releases the body and the mind of base feelings such as shame, guilt and hatred. It replaces wounds and negativity by peace and happiness. It instills empathy and compassion. Once free from negative emotions, limited thoughts and old beliefs, we can get access to the universal energy.
The core ho’oponopono principle is that we are fully responsible for everything that manifests in our lives. Also, this spiritual system is based on the understanding that we are not separate entities, but part of a unified, interconnected oneness. Thus healing ourselves means healing others as well.
The ho’oponopono method consists of four steps: remorse, forgiveness, gratitude and love. Each step contains a simple yet power positive affirmation. They work when they are spoken with genuine feelings, rather than being repeated in a mechanical way. The affirmations can either be silently repeated in your mind, or spoken out loud. The latter approach, however, is more effective, and brings results faster. Ho’oponopono is often practiced as a form of meditation, while sitting in a comfortable position, with eyes closed. Alternatively, you can practice ho’oponopono at times of difficulty or challenge, to positively shift your personal energy and the energy in your environment.
Step 1: Remorse/repentance. This step consists of saying “I am sorry.” This is the most important, foundational step of the whole process, since it represents one’s acceptance of personal responsibility. By understanding that whatever occurs in the outer world is a reflection of our inner state of consciousness, we feel sorry, but we also empower ourselves to start manifesting a more desirable reality for ourselves.
Step 2: Asking forgiveness. This step consists of saying: “Please forgive me.” It is not necessary to focus on a particular person, but it is important to ask for forgiveness with sincerity and to repeat the phrase many times. The affirmation/mantra can be even addressed to an unknown, imaginary recipient.
Step 3: Gratitude. At this step, one needs to say “Thank you.” This gratitude can be felt and expressed towards another person, towards one’s own body and mind, towards the universe, life circumstances, etc.
Step 4: Love. This step uses the power of live. One needs to say and repeat “I love you,” but the words need to be supported by a strong feeling of openness and love. The words can be addressed to anyone or anything, including one’s partner, family members, friends, colleagues, the universe, the Absolute, or even to one’s challenges.
This four-step process is effective since it reprograms one’s subconscious mind, relieving it of negative and limiting beliefs. Also, by deeply experiencing the feelings of forgiveness, gratitude and love, it elevates one’s state of consciousness and energizes the body.