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Finding it Hard to Forgive Yourself or Others? Try The Ho’oponopono

"I just kept saying, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I love you’ over and over again. Turns out that loving yourself is the greatest way to improve yourself, and as you improve yourself, you improve your world."

— Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len

The ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian forgiveness prayer that can help you to heal ruptures in your relationships, both with yourself and others. The prayer asks us to drop our ego defenses and to take responsibility for the part we play in our problems, not from the point of view of blame or reproach but for the purposes of healing and building stronger, healthier relationships. In the context of the ho’oponopono, ‘relationship’ can refer to lots of things; it could be your relationship with yourself or with someone else in your life, it could be your relationship with a substance (drugs or alcohol), or with food or it could relate to your relationship with a concept such as self-confidence.

The ho’oponopono operates from the perspective that, while the things we experience might be ‘out there’ in the world, we experience them within our own minds and bodies and from that point of view we are responsible for them. We can only heal, change and grow if we own up to this responsibility.

The ho’oponopono takes the form of a short 4-line prayer which is repeated and it could not be simpler to practice:

I’m sorry

Please forgive me

Thank you

I love you

It is important to note that the ho’oponopono prayer is directed at oneself i.e. you are apologising to yourself and you are asking yourself for forgiveness, even if it is an external relationship you are trying to work on. This again comes back to the idea that the the place of healing, even with external relationships, is within the self. Before you begin the prayer you must focus on the relationship you wish to heal. Then each line is said with conviction and willingness to heal the relationship. Repeat the prayer like a mantra with true and genuine intention in each line.

While the ho’oponopono might seem like a strange concept, it is an interesting alternative to the blame culture in which we live where we hang on to guilt and shame about our transgressions. The ho’oponopono offers a practical, simple and healing solution to our problems that helps us to step outside of our more damaging responses and try something different.

Since the ho’oponopono is such a challenging concept within our culture, it can be useful to use a meditation to get started. YouTube offers numerous free ho’oponopono meditations. The following I’ve found to be very effective, however you can explore and find ones that suit you best:

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