Ho’oponopono: heal yourself (with a simple prayer)

Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian prayer. What ho’oponopono is, is a form of meditation.


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You sit, think about what you need to heal within you. You then repeat the following four phrases:

I am sorry

Please forgive me

Thank you

I love you

That’s all there is to the practice. It may seem simple, and you know what? It is. What you’ll find through repetition of these phrases is you will feel a change within you.

What do I mean by change?

An analogy for ho’oponopono

Let me use an analogy. Imagine yourself washing the dishes at the kitchen sink. You are cleaning the knives, forks, plates, glasses and a big casserole dish. The casserole dish is upside down in the sink. As you grab for things, you push the casserole dish causing trapped air to escape and bubble to the surface.

What was the point of that analogy?

In my own roundabout way, the point I was trying to make was the casserole dish is us. The air pockets are stored up emotion. Ho’oponopono is moving the dish to release the stored up air/emotion.

You may feel that you are not carrying around any pent up emotions. Understand there’s a chance that you’re not aware of them.

I know I’m not.

What’s your problem?

When my girlfriend and I argue it will always end with her asking me “What’s your problem?” or “What’s wrong?” At the time, I genuinely believe that I am fine. I know that on some level there is something wrong. My struggle is in defining what’s the problem. There is a problem, but at the time, I am not sure what it is exactly.

There are many reasons why I struggle to define precisely what’s wrong. The base of my problem is probably the same as it is for others: fear.

Have you ever felt like this? Loved ones ask you what is your problem and you cannot bring yourself to say? If I were a gambler, I would say this sudden case of mutism affects men more than women.

In that respect, all men are Parsifal in the Fisher King’s court. All you have to do is speak, ask the question, and all will be healed. When it comes to that moment, you become dumbfounded.

You’re probably thinking I am getting way off track. What has this got to do with Ho’oponopono?

Ho’oponopono is the four simple phrases repeated over and over. You can go for ten minutes or even longer if you want.

Repeating the phrases out loud sometimes feels like a rehearsal. While the words themselves are simple, saying them out loud? Saying them to someone can feel impossible at times.

Let’s break down the phrases together.

Ho’oponopono phrases

1. I am sorry

Saying “I am sorry” can be a challenge. How many times have you heard “Never apologise”? You are aware of people who have angered the online mob. What happens next? They have to go before the mob and apologise for their transgressions. Then what happens? The mob is unsatisfied, “They were insincere” cries the mob and the person is chased from public life.

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What is the point in apologising then?

As much as saying “I am sorry” is to do with the other person keep in mind that you are just as much part of the equation. Admitting that you are in the wrong takes a lot of courage. How many people do you know never accept responsibility? It feels like I am one of those people. If you refuse to admit you are at fault, then you are not at fault, right? You and I know that is not how it works.

Saying “I am sorry” takes a lot of courage. Ho’oponopono gets you used to saying the phrase.

2. Please forgive me

Asking for something takes a lot of resilience. You are saying that you need help, you need something from another person. Asking is simple in theory but in practice? I struggle to ask for things. Often I’m afraid of being told no even though I know in my heart being told no is seldom the end of the world.

Asking for forgiveness is a big one. In the cold challenging world of today, how often do you hear this phrase? Think about it, asking for forgiveness is gargantuan. You are making yourself vulnerable. You are exposing yourself. What if the person says no? What does it mean to forgive?

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Many times we struggle to ask for forgiveness. Why, because let’s face it two thoughts are running through our heads. The first “I’m fine with being unforgiven” and “I am unworthy of forgiveness”. It may not seem like it, but these tow thoughts are contradictory. How can you be unworthy of something that doesn’t matter to you?

If you want to heal your relationship with others and yourself, you need to ask for forgiveness.

3. Thank you

Thank you is probably the only real “easy” one on this list. You probably say thank you several times throughout your day.

What about the other side of thank you?

thank you heart text
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How many times have you been turned down for something like a job interview? You are told “No” by the maitre d’ at the restaurant they cannot make an exception for you at this time. You have a choice, you can be rude and walk off in a huff, or you can thank them for your time. What about receiving a gift from a friend? A gift that is not only so misguided that you question if the friend even knows you in the first place? You can call them out and cause a scene, or you can say thank you.

What does thank you mean in the context of Ho’oponopono? With Ho’oponopono it is more about acceptance and gratitude. Are you denied forgiveness? Accept it, be thankful.

Thank you in the context of Ho’oponopono is as much about acceptance as it is about gratitude.

4. I love you

Do you struggle to say “I love you”? You can say “I love you” to loved ones. That is right and good. What about saying the phrase to people who you may feel a little less than worthy of your love?

i love you tag
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There have been times when practising Ho’oponopono when an image of someone I don’t like flashes up in my mind’s eye. My natural reaction is to resist. To try and push that person out of my head. Through the practice of Ho’oponopono, I have learned to accept that person, to love that person. When someone I’m not on the best terms with pops into my head during Ho’oponopono I let them be. If they stay they stay, if they leave, they leave. Does that make sense?

Here is the thing about love. While it is good to love the ones closest to a real act of kindness is to love the ones, it is hard to love. Did I say love enough in the last sentence?

In the same way when you asked for forgiveness. To say “I love you” is to forgive someone before they ask. To give something before being asked is one of the most incredible things you can do for another.


Understand the external world is a reflection of your inner world. When you heal yourself, you heal others; when you heal others, you heal yourself. Does that make sense?

With ho’oponopono you are setting an intent to heal yourself and those around you.

Here is the ho’oponopono practice

  • Find a quiet place, free from distraction where no one will disturb you.
  • Set an intent to heal something in your life or with someone
  • Hand on your heart to bring yourself into the present moment
  • Set a timer for ten minutes
  • Repeat – “I am sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you” out loud until the timer sounds

Do this for 21 days and see how you feel.

When I do it, sometimes I feel nothing. Sometimes I’ll find myself weeping and sometimes I’ll feel love. Love, in this case, feels like a bright light shining down directly on top of my head.

Try and let me know how you get on in the comments below.

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