Understanding and Practicing Ho’oponopono

The act of forgiveness is one of the most important and sought-after virtues. It isn’t simply reserved for others; it is equally necessary that we learn to forgive ourselves.

 It comes fairly easy for some, and for others, the constant struggle may sow the seeds of guilt, shame, and bitterness. Have you ever, despite telling someone that you have forgiven them, still held grudges against them or behaved in a passive-aggressive manner with them? It is one thing to say it in words, another to truly mean it. Moreover, have you noticed how it impacts your physical, emotional/and mental well-being? There is always this sense of unease, bitterness, and anxiety lingering somewhere within you. Over time, these feelings trap us, and we find it difficult to practice forgiveness even with ourselves.

Most of you wouldn’t have heard of ho’oponopono. Even I didn’t know such a concept existed, let alone a word like this. However, to my pleasant surprise, ho’oponopono is an age-old Hawaiin practice that teaches one the act of forgiveness which is deeply healing and a powerful way of practising self-love. It works in the same way as a mantra, a mantra for self-love, a healing prayer that is chanted repeatedly.

The word ho’oponopono itself translates to ‘to make things right.’ Based on this meaning, we know that the things that need to be corrected are those that cause feelings of ill will, negative emotions, and our hearts to harden.

“I’m sorry, please forgive me; thank you, I love you.”

What makes it so appealing is that it is made up of words and phrases that hold a universal and moving meaning. Moreover, it is a powerful but simple way to practice forgiveness (towards ourselves and others) and healing. To practice it, you only need to recite this easy-to-remember prayer. It goes like: I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.

What makes it so powerful?

Each phrase that the prayer is made of has a certain meaning and significance. The first phrase, ‘I’m sorry,’ acknowledges that something wrong was done; maybe your feelings were hurt, maybe you hurt someone else’s feelings. It is a painful but natural realization and is the first step towards truly understanding the act of forgiveness.

‘Please forgive me’ tells us that one sincerely means that they are sorry, that there are feelings of remorse and repentance. Forgiveness doesn’t have to be an ego fracturing act! Ask for forgiveness and feel no shame in doing so.

Showing gratitude is one of the noblest qualities. Thank yourself; your body, mind, and soul, and thank the other for being kind and understanding.

Perhaps the most beautiful part of the prayer, I love you. There is nothing more powerful or moving than love, be it love for others or oneself.

Benefits of practising Ho’oponopono

Ho’oponopono enables us to practice some of the most virtuous qualities; humility, patience, and compassion. These help you navigate through difficult situations in life and build character and personality. You become better equipped when it comes to dealing with conflicts, especially when it comes to relationships. Healing from past traumatic or unhealthy relationships helps us let go of painful memories to which we may still find ourselves attached. Moreover, it teaches us to forgive and not to forget, so we have better experiences later on in life.

It significantly improves your physical and mental well-being, which is one of its most prominent benefits. Harbouring negative emotions (holding grudges, being unable to let go or move on, displaying anger) too frequently can quicken our ageing process, lead to bad habits such as drinking, and smoking, and make us more prone to stress and anxiety. Once you sincerely commit to practising ho’oponopono, you become a happier version of yourself!

It allows us to attain inner peace with ourselves and the world, which is perhaps the essence of this ancient practice.

How to practice Ho’oponopono?

You can practice it anywhere, anytime. You can practice this before going to bed or going out for a walk early in the morning. All you need is to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and start repeating these four phrases with attention and intention.

 Gradually, you’ll feel yourself become lighter and calmer, letting go of all the negative emotions. Initially, you may feel a little sorrowful, but that is a good sign. Ho’oponopono will help you become patient, take responsibility, and comfort yourself in times of conflict!