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.
I found it quite difficult to track down any original sources. Most of the books referenced in 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.
- 1 A Short History of Ho’oponopono: Hawaiian Tradition
- 2 4 Steps
- 3 A Little More Explanation
- 4 What Is Ho’Oponopono Meditation?
- 5 4 Steps Expanded: Ho’Oponopono Meditation Script
- 6 Restoring Harmony
- 7 The Arrogance of Human Beings
- 8 Is This Practice Capable of Having an Effect That Goes Beyond My Own Internal World?
- 9 Practicing Ho’Oponopono Meditation as Family Therapy
- 10 How to Test the Power of Ho’Oponopono
A Short History of Ho’oponopono: Hawaiian Tradition
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 (i.e., total responsibility), a notion that I think receives too little 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.
What Is Ho’Oponopono Meditation?
The average person who has even heard of this type of meditation understands it to be a mantra where you repeat to yourself ‘ I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.’
Some define it as a practice towards reconciliation and forgiveness, and this Hawaiian practice helps to clean the mind of negative thoughts.
There are many approaches to this type of meditation, and it’s practiced in different ways across the various Hawaiian Islands and which way often depends on a family’s traditions.
There isn’t one way that is considered more correct than the others, and the objective of all the different styles of practicing this meditation is designed to channel negative energy toward positive outcomes for both the community and for yourself.
4 Steps Expanded: Ho’Oponopono Meditation Script
1. Forgive Me
We are able to free ourselves from the past through forgiveness. Even if the person who we have asked to forgive us doesn’t do so, we have done everything we can, and this can relieve us of the burden.
Once we have done our part sincerely the situation is no longer in our court, and it means we have done all we need to do.
2. I’m Sorry
Saying that we are sorry it’s not always about being right or wrong but is exercising humility and understanding that our actions have hurt another person.
Being able to say you are sorry even when you believe you were right because it has hurt another human being and acknowledging that fact is a way to return to oneself.
This return is seen not only as making you able to return to a place within yourself but also within your environment or the community.
3. Thank You
Having gratitude is a powerful way to have abundance come your way.
When you can have genuine acceptance even in painful situations, it demonstrates that you have gained wisdom and learned from those situations.
When you can go through the storm with gratitude in your heart, you will be stronger for it.
4. I Love You
Love is believed to be a powerful energy that connects us all and the energy to care for ourselves as well as the land and our community.
It is only when our love is authentic that we can truly accomplish anything of real meaning for lasting value and yet this powerful energy can be blocked if we have any unresolved trauma or wounds.
Ho’oponopono can help us rid ourselves of these blockages and help us to return to a place of personal power and joy.
It’s recommended that you speak these four basic principles to your ancestors, to the land, to yourselves, and to future generations.
You will begin to notice a shift in your energy when you focus on the present moment.
If you begin to notice there are times or places where it’s difficult for you to speak the words, then that will bring your attention to where you have blockages.
You may find that it is hard to remember the exact order of the words or even remember if there was a specific order and so you might find yourself trying out different combinations on your own.
The only way to know how well this will work for you is by chanting the words and exercising the practice on a regular basis to see how helpful it is.
You are likely to find through this meditation many questions come to mind and the questions that come up will depend on the order in which you say the words.
You might ask yourself why you should be sorry. You may feel that you have nothing to be sorry for, as you didn’t do anything wrong.
Often when we have anger in our heart. We want to hold on to it, and we don’t want to forgive. This may make us question why we should be grateful.
You will find yourself examining and asking yourself if you really love someone when you say that. When you find these challenges arising you should keep at the chanting without any specific expectations in mind.
As you chant the words, again and again, you will find an inner voice come up. It will often show you the disharmony within and reveal its intentions.
All of these experiences can be used like tuning forks allowing you to tune up all of the parts that are in disharmony. You are likely to find in time that the chant calms the chaos of the mind.
Practicing this meditation will help to restore your harmony. If your experience is similar to mine, then you will find that it brings many benefits to your personal life.
I was introduced to these practices through a psychologist and shamanic practitioner. Practicing this meditation regularly changed everything.
It’s important to remember that you pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings as you go through this process.
Any time you find yourself having a difficult time remembering the words or the order of the words it may be a clue to some area of disharmony which you are suffering from in your life.
One of the clues that you are in disharmony is when you’re raising questions about why you should be humble or ask for forgiveness or when you question whether or not you truly love someone.
Having these types of questions come to mind and having feelings that make you wonder why you should continue this practice or have these feelings are all signs of areas you need to work on to achieve genuine harmony.
Depending on how out of harmony you are, will play a significant part in how much effort it takes to restore harmony, and it will also play a role in how long it will take to do so. But it should be noted that doing so is well worth the time and effort.
In my own experience, I found that chanting the mantra, again and again, would bring any discord to the surface. This gave me the opportunity not only to discover it but then begin to heal it.
The more I was able to tune up my discord and bring it into harmony, the better every aspect of my life became. I believe that following this practice will have a similar effect on you and your life.
The Arrogance of Human Beings
It is unfortunate, but it is a common aspect of human beings to be arrogant. The misconception between being intelligent and being wise often leads to a great void.
It is only when we can be in a realm of thoughtlessness that the light and universal truth can come through.
When I have thoughts racing through my mind, then I block the light. It is only when I can fully clear my mind and achieve a state of silence that the light can come.
Throughout the majority of human history, we have been separated by cultural and religious differences as well as language and even distance.
We’ve also been separated by economic hierarchy and by class. It seems that whenever someone comes up with an idea, there’s always another person there that has an opposing idea.
The practice of Ho’oponopono is an opportunity for humanity to be able to come into agreement.
As different as various cultures are, most of them agreed that saying thank you, or I’m sorry, or please forgive me, and I love you, are all very valuable words and important to say.
If you believe in a collective consciousness such as many Eastern traditions, do then it’s easy to imagine that a huge number of humans that have come to that conclusion over the centuries would be held within that collective consciousness and fuel its power.
It may well be that tapping into this type of awareness can extend way beyond this practice with its Hawaiian roots and into a way of thinking that extends across cultures and across time.
Is This Practice Capable of Having an Effect That Goes Beyond My Own Internal World?
Dr. Hew Len (i.e., Ihaleakala Hew Len, Ph.D.) is a great practitioner of this meditation and believes that it can have a real effect on more than just your own personal life because we are all directly connected.
He believes that when you see things in others that you don’t like that it may well be something within yourself that needs to be brought back into harmony.
When we find things in others that we don’t like it is connected with an error in our own thinking and in our collective memories.
When you practice Ho’oponopono it allows you to cleanse your mind of these errors and return to your original thinking.
Practicing Ho’Oponopono Meditation as Family Therapy
For those who live in Hawaii, this practice is not as much about living a shamanic life or chanting a mantra as it is about a traditional system that helps resolve disputes.
It is a system that is designed to correct errors and help make things right.
It helps us to focus on making our relationships better and returning those relationships back to where they should be by correcting errors with spiritual deities, ancestors, and, of course, our living relatives.
To practice this within a group, it requires that an elder of the family preside over the ritual for the convening of the process.
In some cases, it may even be possible that a community leader presides over it for a group that extends beyond just family.
It is considered an even more ideal situation if a Kahuna Pule which is like a priest conducts the praying and this is especially true if an illness is involved.
How to Test the Power of Ho’Oponopono
To get the very best results out of this practice, you want to do it not just when things are bad but always. In fact, it is most common for someone to get the least results if they only practice it at times when they have problems.
Those that can practice this meditation during the good times will find that it is even more effective when bad times come.
If you only wait until you’re in a spiritual emergency, you will likely be unable to benefit as much as you could have had you been practicing it all along.
If you find yourself in a place where you feel spiritually and emotionally assaulted or even threatened then this is a time where this meditation can be quite helpful.
You may come to a point where you realize that no one is going to come to your rescue and it will be necessary for you to deal with this situation.
This is when you will be able to immediately begin to practice this meditation to help you through the situation.
If you’ve been practicing all along then you will have one of these mantras come immediately to mind and you’ll know exactly what to do to help resolve the issue.
In an experience such as this that I have personally had, I began to feel my consciousness was being assaulted and I began practicing this meditation.
I found that I was able to clear this assault easily and I even sensed an odor that reminded me of burnt toast as I began to feel the mental assault leaving me.
I was then able to find myself in a place that was gentle and peaceful, and the psychotic episode had completely dissolved into nothingness. This is not to mean that this will be the same experience for everyone but is used as an example of how this practice can help.
One final thought, if you’re a student of Morrnah, (i.e., Morrnah Simeona) a Hawaiian native, you might be familiar with an updated version of the Hawaiian tradition.
Morrnah updated the Hawaiian tradition used historically to a 12-step or 14-step ho’oponopono process, making oponopono more common around the world through Pacifica seminars in places like Germany.
Like anything of value in life, Ho’oponopono will have its greatest value and effect when you put it into regular practice.
This means taking the time on a daily basis to perform your mantras and to meditate. Within time you will begin to notice how it has a direct and positive impact on your life.