Ho’oponopono - I’m Sorry, Please Forgive Me, Thank You, I Love You.


I recently completed a training course with Dr Joe Vitalie and Dr Ihaleakala Hew Len about the benefits of using Ho’oponopono on a daily basis to clean, clear and heal my life.

At the core of Dr. Hew Len's perspective is the idea of taking total responsibility for more than your personal self because ‘you are in me and I am in you’. During the training he would often say, “All for one and one for all”.  He emphasized the point of taking 100% responsibility for everything you encounter in life - so you can ‘clean on it’.

His way of using Ho’oponopono contains an awareness that the problems we encounter in life, in others and in the world outside ourselves is due to ‘memories’ or ‘data’ in thought stored in our personal and collective memories. The belief in this data existing in some form of collective memory accessible to all allows for a person practicing Ho’oponopono to clean these errors, whether the error originated in their personal thoughts or not.

"I don’t see myself as a kahuna, I see myself as a garbage collector.  I’m only here to be responsible and it’s often very hard to do that." 
Dr Hew Len, Shamanic Wisdomkeepers

There is somewhat of a paradox here however - it is that he is advocating development of personal power to clean the situation around us through increasing personal responsibility, but he is asking that we take on responsibility for cleaning problems that were not created by us,  i.e doing other people’s inner work for them (which doesn’t seem like the other taking personal responsibility for themselves). The paradox is resolved however with the awareness that separation consciousness is not the only reality (all for one and one for all) and an underlying unity also co-exists, after all: ‘you are in me and I am in you’. This is where Ho’oponopono truly steps into being a shamanic practice, where the reality not only within but around the practitioner can apparently be adjusted.

The power to change the world around us lies within us - your world is what you perceive it to be. Your thoughts shape your reality. If you want to change the world then you have to start with yourself.

So what is Ho'oponopono?

The Hawaiian word ho'oponopono comes from ho'o ("to make") and pono ("right"). The repetition of the word pono means "doubly right" or being right with both self and others. In a nutshell, ho'oponopono is a process by which we can forgive ourselves and others.  When you become right with others, you become right with yourself. 

Many people understand Ho’oponopono to be a mantra where one repeats the words ‘I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you’ as a form of mental and spiritual cleaning that could perhaps be compared to Buddhist techniques for clearing karma. 

Others have defined it as a forgiveness and reconciliation practice, cleansing of ‘errors of thought’–the origin of problems and sickness in the physical world, according to the Hawaiian worldview. 

Throughout human history, we have been divided by distance, language, cultural and religious beliefs, class and economic hierarchy. Whenever someone comes up with a perspective there seems to always be someone else there with an opposing opinion. To me, the power of Ho’oponopono comes, in large part, from the fact that it’s a really rare thing for the vast majority of humanity to be in agreement about anything.

Across all cultures practically all of us agree that the concepts of thank you, I’m sorry, please forgive me and I love you are all valuable and important.

"In common with other shamanic traditions, the Hawaiian tradition teaches that all life is connected.  Ho’oponopono is, therefore, not only a way of healing ourselves, but others and our world as well." 
Timothy Freke, Shamanic Wisdomkeepers

Ho’oponopono is basically a healing practice of forgiveness. It is an ancient spiritual practice that originated in the Polynesian Islands of the South Pacific and later Hawaii, Ho’oponopono brings many benefits to modern living. Originally, it was used as a method for two different island kingdoms to settle their differences and make peace. As time went on, it was adapted to be a means of mediation and conflict resolving between two people. Showing forgiveness is one of the most difficult things in the world for someone to do, yet it is ultimately so simple. Ho’oponopono is about learning to demonstrate forgiveness through ritualistic methods.

There are Four Components of Ho’oponopono

Ho’oponopono is made up of four parts:

1. Admitting responsibility by being able to say: “I’m sorry.”
2. Asking for forgiveness by saying: “Please forgive me.” 
3. Being able to express gratitude by saying: “Thank you.”
4. Giving love by saying: “I love you.”

The focus of Ho’oponopono is to bridge a connection between yourself, your inner being and the Divine. It is not important who you are saying the words directly to and why you feel the need to express some sort of forgiveness. It may be that you have had an argument with a loved one, or you may have let yourself down in some way. In all honesty, whatever shows up in your life, you are there. Your thoughts and perceptions shape your reality. Simply acknowledging that we are all 100% responsible for our lives allows us to say these words to ourselves. This allows you to 'clean' and 'get clear' - this then allows inspiration and balance to flow.

Initially you may find it hard to remember the order of the words - you can use them in every possible combination as well as repeating them on their own. I chant them over and over in meditation or when something comes up that bothers me.

As I do this, I realise that many questions come up - for example, “Why should I be sorry? What do I have to be sorry for? What do I need forgiveness for, in this moment and in my life? What do I have to be grateful for? When I say ‘I love you’ am I really feeling it? If not, what is in the way?”. 

Using the mantra allows you to work with these words both to directly address something you find difficult or challenging, as well as giving you a focus for meditation to ease mind chatter.

As you chant these words you will find that stuff comes up. But you will notice that the ‘stuff’ is tuned into the frequency of the mantra - allowing you to release it.

The Benefits of Ho’oponopono

Practicing Ho’oponopono regularly provides many benefits. Those who are experienced in Ho’oponopono are said to have:

  • Reduction of stress
  • Improved mental and physical health
  • Improved relationships with others
  • Better control over emotions
  • A happier life

How You Can Practice Ho’oponopono

You can practice Ho’oponopono whenever you feel like you need to. However there are some specific times when you might find it most useful.

Just before you go to sleep is an ideal time to clear out all the emotions of the day. Meditate with the four phrases in your head or chant them out loud.

Use Ho’oponopono immediately when you notice a problem arising or after an incident throughout the day. It means you’re less likely to hold onto grudges or feel resentment which can negatively affect your day. For example, you may have a disagreement or falling out with a work colleague. Instead of letting your feelings fester, try Ho’oponopono to forgive and move on.

You don’t have to spend so long doing it, you can spend a few minutes each day before you go to sleep or after an incident practicing Ho’oponopono. You should know when you’ve accomplished your task as you should feel a sense of relief wash over you.

I love you, thank you for reading!
Debi Barr
Certified Ho'oponopono Practitioner