I’m always interested in learning about new meditation techniques so I was excited to dig a little bit deeper into the ancient Hawaiian practice called ho’oponopono. This article is the result of my research. If you’d just like to jump right in, scroll down to the section titled “4 Steps.”
I found it quite difficult to track down any original sources. Most of the books referenced on the Wikipedia article are now out of print and not available online, whilst the sites containing information are mostly small and independently-run. That said, there is a general consensus on the basic points.
The conversion from the traditional Hawaiian practice into a personal meditative one is fairly recent, though seemingly based strongly on the work of native healer Morrnah Simeona.
As always, trust your own inner guidance in deciding whether or not ho’oponopono meditation will work for you.
A Short History of Ho’oponopono
The practice’s antecedents seem to lie in early Polynesian culture. Specifically in the widespread belief that illness derived from wrongdoing (notice the link to karma). It’s interesting that this notion of personal responsibility was present in what may be considered the earliest ancestor of the technique.
It was (and still is in some cultures) a family problem-solving process. The process is aimed at restoring family and societal harmony in many eastern cultures, involving cleansing wrongdoing so that it does not negatively shape the family’s present relationship.
Certain key names are associated with the ho’oponopono meditation that is widely-recognized today, specifically those of Morrnah Simeona and, surprisingly (I thought), Joe Vitale, a well-known American self-help author who appeared on “The Secret.” (There’s a video at the bottom of Joe Vitale explaining his take on ho’oponopono).
The modern meditation outlined in this article is taken from the book Zero Limits he wrote with Ihaleakala Hew Len (a contemporary of Morrnah Simeona). It involves the recitation of four phrases, with the intention of clearing the memories and choices that detrimentally shape our present experience, ultimately leading to a state of emptiness or “zero,” out of which inspiration can naturally arise.
The four phrases are addressed to the “Divine.” You may wish to understand this as your personal inner divine. We are seeking forgiveness for our past actions, the aggregate of which causes our suffering today, and then letting them go. In seeking forgiveness we are not trying to foster a sense of guilt.
- I am sorry.
- Please forgive me.
- I love you.
- Thank you.
A Little More Explanation
I was so drawn to the practice because it’s inextricably tied up with self-forgiveness and personal responsibility, a notion that I think receives too little attention attention in today’s world. As we pursue our own spiritual discipline we can get so caught up in helping others that we forget to care for ourselves.
This attitude is best understood in the context of the following words by Morrnah Simeona: “If we can accept that we are the sum total of all past thoughts, emotions, words, deeds and actions and that our present lives and choices are colored or shaded by this memory bank of the past, then we begin to see how a process of correcting or setting aright can change our lives, our families and our society.”
From this, we can draw the understanding that the ho’oponopono practice is the method by which we can “set aright.” The process of “clearing” the accumulated memory-bank of all our past experiences.
To learn more, watch these two videos, especially the second