What Is Hooponopono? Benefits & Techniques In The Art Of Forgiveness

Dr Jess Natural Fixes, psychiatry, stress, You

Ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian practice of healing through forgiveness. We can learn a lot about forgiveness from this ancient and powerful tradition. Ho’o means ‘to make‘ and pono ‘right‘ – the double use of pono means with both yourself and others.

Practicing this ritual allows you to let go of negative emotions particularly anger and resentment

The ancient Haiwaiins understood that harbouring negative emotions like anger and resentment only hurts the person who can’t forgive, this is not about right or wrong but a symbolic way to cut the connection to that event or person that is causing us pain.

It is a great way to improve our relationships. Or let go of situations, past issues and ‘wrongs’

Long term resentments and perceived ‘wrongs’ can damage our relationships with ourselves and others. We can all think of a painful memory we feel hurt or angry from that we bring up and go over from time to time. For some this goes much deeper with traumatic levels of hurt or abuse. Although this ritual may need to be done repeatedly it can still help the healing process however big the trauma. It is not about apologising to the person who hurt us (although this may be appropriate in some cases) we can also take it as an apology to ourselves and the child within us, or something greater in our spiritual belief process.

By letting go of these negative emotions that only cause us pain we can truly heal and be happy

Small scale studies have shown that ho’oponopono can help feelings of forgiveness, even after just one attempt(1). It may even help us physically and has been shown to lower blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure(2). Forgiveness is shown to reduce depression and anxiety and improve feelings of hope(3).

A case study with clinical psychologist Dr Ihaleakala Hew Len states he healed a ward of mentally ill criminals by performing Ho’oponopono on their files

Whether this is a myth or true, this is an interesting use of the forgiveness ritual. Dr Hew Len is basically suggesting through working on forgiveness in ourselves we can encourage the healing of others. This leaves a spiritual question as to the influence of our connection with others and whether we believe this potential is possible. 

Dr Jess says: I first came across this forgiveness ritual on a kinesiology course over 8 years ago and found it incredibly powerful, those 4 simple phrases unexpectedly brought tears to my eyes, really resonated with me and the process had an amazing impact on the group of people doing it. I have since used it regularly personally, and in my practice with clients struggling with difficult emotions or issues from the past.

I have repeatedly found it simple yet very effective. This doesn’t seem to be just for the forgiver, strangely many patients report that the person they have ‘forgiven’ has made contact to apologise or attempt reconciliation. In other cases a partner finally granted a divorce or having financially settled a dispute in a previously ‘stuck’ situation.


Follow the 4 key phrases and the process listed below as many times as you need to feel a difference.

Dr Jess’s Forgiveness Ritual Inspired By Ho’oponopono
  • Focus on a specific person or situation that has upset you – It can be now or in the past. The process is to forgive both yourself and others to whom you are connected with negative energy. Forgiveness is not about ‘who was right’ or if you have been ‘wronged’ or hurt by the other person, it is about putting unconditional love and forgiveness into the space regardless. Break that connection! It allows you to internally ‘let go’ so that the negative emotion that is draining you can be stopped. Once you have brought this situation or person into your space, work through the 4 steps below saying the phrases out loud and feeling the meaning behind them.
  • “I am Sorry” – Step 1. Say it out loud with your eyes open. Some people find it helps to see themselves in a mirror. This is not about ‘fault’, you are saying sorry for holding onto negative emotion, for letting it affect the purity of who you are, for holding onto guilt / anger / sadness/ hurt / resentment / shame. It doesn’t matter whose fault the situation was or whether something awful happened to you or was done to you. This is about the repentance and remorse for the negative event regardless of responsibility. For the emotions and hurt tied up in it, you can apologise for yourself or even humanity – whatever feels right. Two simple words can bring tears to your eyes when said properly and show you the depth of emotion and healing power that they have.
  • “Please forgive me” – Step 2. A deeper level of step one. It doesn’t matter who you are asking for forgiveness (your inner self, a spiritual belief, a divine being). Whatever your beliefs are feel the power of these words of repentance and forgiveness, with unconditional love. You can say it more than once, remember step 1 and mean it.
  • “I Love you” – Step 3. In this space of unconditional love, project it inwards and outwards, let unconditional love heal you. Love yourself, your body, the air you breathe, the world around us, all of the people within it. Love is a very powerful emotion.
  • “Thank you” – Step 4. Gratitude is for life, love, the universe, the experiences that shape us. Feel thankful and appreciative of everything you have and for letting go of the negativity.

That’s it! Simple and amazingly effective. You can repeat and use it as many times as you need – and as a top tip to repair friendships and relationships getting those 4 phrases into letters or e-mails can work wonders too.

You may also find it useful to practice Gratitude or Being Thankful alongside Ho’oponopono.


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