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The Ho’oponopono Practice of Forgiveness

Author: Lynn Louise Wonders

In 1997 and 1998 I had the honor of studying with Haleakala (Dr. Hew Len), a Kahuna and psychologist from the Big Island, Hawaii. I was very fortunate to be connected with a relatively small and quiet group of healers and spiritual seekers in Atlanta who often gathered to meditate together. Haleakala traveled to Atlanta to meet with us and to teach us the ancient Hawaiian practice of Ho'oponopono and his program he called Self I-dentity.

The practice is based upon the theory that all of humanity is connected because we all originate from Divine. In essence, we are perfect and divine.

The theory of Ho’oponopono (which translates to mean moving from darkness to light) says that since each and every one of us is connected to every other being in this world, each of us can and should take 100% responsibility for all the ills, pain, suffering, cruelty, anger in this world. The belief is that by regularly taking full responsibility with a reverent and intentional ritual we can clear the negativity that exists and transmute that which is dark into light, correcting all error.

The practice of Ho'oponopono is a practice in humility and willingness to lay down the egoic part of us that wants to feel separate from and better than others.

Dr. Hew Len worked in a mental hospital on a ward of dangerous mentally ill patients. He did not provide psychotherapy for them. He simply practiced Ho'oponopono and as a result, in time, the entire ward was healed, transformed and rehabilitated miraculously.

I recall our class sessions with Haleakala with a very clear memory. He taught us that greed and arrogance are at the root of all human suffering and he shared the difficult pill to swallow: Each of us must take 100% responsibility even if the error appears to be someone else's behavior or problem.

He challenged us to step up to the plate. Who among us is willing to do this work? It's tough. It requires complete surrender of the ego’s desire to be noticed, to be praised, to be special. It requires an ability to be very humble. To love unconditionally.

This sounds a lot like the examples and teachings of Jesus, Mother Theresa, and the Buddha. Perhaps we are tapping into some Universal truth

I have noticed in the online spirituality circles that there are many who reference or Ho'oponopono but I'm not sure how much of the full practice people really understand. I thought it might be helpful for me to share a bit more about what I learned directly from Haleakala.


This excerpt from the transcript of an interview with Haleakala published online will provide a good basis for the root and reason of the practice:


"The central point in Ho'oponopono," says Dr. Hew Len, "is that all of the problems, stresses, and diseases that one experiences begin as replays of old negative emotional memories. Being residents of the cosmos, we all share in a common pool of old negative memories. Using the cleansing process of Ho'oponopono, one is able to petition the Light within to transmute old woes and replace them with divine peace. The key to the beginning of the cleansing process is self-introspection. The question to be asked is: 'What is going on inside of me that is manifesting the problems?

If I'm angry, that anger will manifest as cancer or something. If I want that cancer to go… I shift my thought. And the way I do it is through a process of saying: 'I'm sorry. Forgive me for whatever is going on inside me that causes me to perceive that which is not working for anyone.' Once I say 'I'm sorry, please forgive me,' then the Light will actually shift that thought-form. Only the Light can do that. It will take anger and purify it and neutralize it. Then it will release it and there is nothing left there. The anger will disappear. And then it does something extra. Once there is release and an emptiness, the Light will then put in what is right for you.


Ho'oponopono is a path of repentance and forgiveness. Before I can be forgiven I have to be repentful. You don't find too many people around here being repentful, because the opposite of repentance is blame. The opposite of being repentful and forgiving is not being 100% responsible. And without that, I cannot make this cancer disappear. This is a manifestation of my thought. But if I shift my thought and allow it to be transmuted into Light, this thing will go. And when this thing goes, some new creation will come in. Through just being responsible the Light immediately gives you what you need and you'll be inspired.”

When we notice feelings of anger, fear, resentment within ourselves toward another person or situation, we can practice Ho'oponopono.

When we notice tragedies, atrocities, war and wide-spread suffering we can practice Ho'oponopono.


Here is a brief summary of the practice of Ho'oponopono that I have learned from Haleakala personally I would like to share with you.

A daily Ho'oponopono meditation exercise. . .


As a foundation, on a daily basis practice this meditative breath exercise morning and night:


  1. Sit up in a comfortable position in a quiet place free of distraction.
  2. Create a mudra (hand position) of the infinity sign by bringing the thumb an index finger together on each hand linking the loops created. (left thumb and left index finger touching and the bring right index and thumb inside that loop and have tips meet there). Rest this position in your lap.
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. Breathe in the count of 7.
  5. Hold the breath in for 7.
  6. Breathe out to the count of 7.
  7. Hold out for a count of 7.

Repeat this cycle 7 times.

Rest in the void created and meditate here for a while.

The great value of this breath meditation is that it leads you out of intellect where arrogance and greed grows and takes you into the void of no thinking where the Light of Divine is ignited. It is soothing, healing and sets the stage for the practice of Ho’oponopono.

Here is how to practice the short form of Ho’oponopono. . .


  1. Acknowledge feelings, thoughts, actions that are of anger, fear, illness, suffering in yourself and others.
  2. With great reverence, silently repeat the four phrases breathing in between the phrases with a reverent pause:


I am sorry.

Please forgive me.

I love you.

Thank you.


Repeat these phrases really feeling deep reverence for the power of these phrases.


Repeat the phrases aloud, not only in your mind, because the vibration of the sounds of these words carries great healing.


Repeat until you begin to feel a sense of lightness and clarity, even if subtle.

A more complex prayer practice is as follows. . .


  1. I am so sorry for anything I, my relatives or my ancestors have done to cause you, your relatives and your ancestors' harm.
  2. Please forgive me. Please forgive all of us.
  3. I see you as a perfect aspect of Divine and I love you.
  4. I thank you for what you are teaching me.

Ho'oponopono visualization rituals for preparing and clearing at day's beginning and day's end. . .


Morning and evening visualization ritual. . .

Every morning imagine you can connect with the little child inside of you.


Everyone has a little child inside of them.


Ask your little child, "What would you like for me to pack in your backpack for your day?"


Imagine what your little inner child needs.


Envision providing that little inner child with everything he/she needs for the day.


It's a beautiful ritual of self-nurturing and honoring.


At the end of the day, envision greeting your child, welcoming your child after a long day and helping your child unpack that backpack, and get ready for sleep. Imagine nurturing your inner child.


Another evening ritual. . .


Every night before you go to bed take all of the troubles and worries you have or others have that you are aware of and imagine pouring them into an Indigo colored bowl that hangs over the mouth of a great, hot volcano.

As the heat of the volcano rises it heats all those worries and troubles until they turn the color of ice blue and eventually white vapor. Here you know they are transmuted.

The power of Ho'oponopono is to step out of and away from BLAME and step up to the plate.

We step away from the notion of separateness and engage the belief that we are all one family whether we like it or not and all parts of the Whole.

To download this Ho'oponopono Practice Click Here 


Lynn Louise Wonders

Lynn Louise Wonders is a licensed psychotherapist, a seasoned long-time teacher of meditation and yoga and mentor to helping professionals seeking to know and practice deeper self-awareness and self-care. Lynn is a Certified Pure Presence Practitioner and a Certified Canfield Success Coach and Trainer. She travels throughout the US and over season providing continuing education training to psychotherapists who work with children and families, provides consultation to helping professionals world-wide and leads self-care retreats. You can learn more about Lynn's work at www.WondersCounseling.com 

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