Taking Responsibility with Ho’oponopono

Oct 16, 2017

I am sorry, Please forgive me, I love you, I thank you: Ho’oponopono prayer

These four simple phrases helped a young clinical psychologist transform a clinic for the mentally ill criminal from a one-way path to the coffin to its closure after most of its patients had been cured and released in just four short years. Dr. Stanley Hew Len was the person responsible and his story was published by Joe Vitale in his book, Zero Limits.

Ancient Polynesian beliefs were adapted in recent times by Hawaiian healers to solve current-day societal ills. The phrase Ho’oponopono means to ‘set right’; in this case setting things right by acknowledging one’s responsibility for having caused wrong, seeking forgiveness and love, and finally expressing gratitude.

Taking responsibility with Ho’oponopono

When I learned about this process some years go, I could relate it to a few seemingly different concepts. The Eastern concept of karma is also about how our thoughts and actions influence others, not merely our own future. The Western Jungian psychological concept of collective unconscious is about how all of us on this planet influence one another. Both resonate with Eastern concepts of collective consciousness and Quantum Physics concepts of how the observer influences what is observed.

In simple terms, what we think and feel not only affects what we do but also what happens to other people who may not be connected to us.

You don’t have to move out from the chair you are sitting in or the bed you are lying on in order to influence events and individuals positively. That’s right. Ho’oponopono works from your mind. It is also about setting things right, not creating trouble for others. Hew Len hardly interacted with the mentally ill patients. He studied their cases and mentally practiced the healing process to help them become right.

My experiences with Ho’oponopono were two-fold. When a couple I knew well grieving over the loss of a loved one I wanted to help them, I looked within to understand what in me could have caused this situation that I was in no way connected to. I found plenty, not in the sense of my having caused it, but in finding how my perceptions could have been negatively responsible. I noticed a significant reduction in their grieving and an acceptance of their loss.

At a personal level, I experienced relief in letting past negative memories go. In that sense, I realized the Zero Limits of what Hew Len talks about shedding emotions of negative memories and expanding in potential to forgive myself and be healed.

The response of many cognitive souls out there to what I say would be to look for scientific evidence. I have none. I am not sure Hew Len has any evidence other than the closure of the clinic. It is like asking people who follow faith to scientifically evidence why they do.

If you find this article interesting, we think you’ll like our article on Meditation.

Try it for yourself and see if it works for you

The practice is simple. Sit comfortably with your spine erect. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Inhale, hold, exhale and hold. Inhale as deeply as you can from below your navel. Hold for as long as you can comfortably. Exhale as completely as you can. Hold for as long as you can comfortably. No need to count. No need to alternate nostrils. Just breathe normally.

As you find yourself relaxing ask yourself ‘What is it in this negative situation I am responsible for’. It is about you; not about blaming someone else. It is also not about blaming yourself; just becoming aware of something within you, a thought or action that may have some relevance in your mind to this negative situation that you are trying to help resolve. You need to have compassion for others and yourself as you enter this state. If you are open memories will arise.

Whatever memories and emotions come up as your responsibility, accept by saying ‘I am sorry, please forgive me’. You are not apologizing to anyone, including yourself. You are in acceptance of what happened. In a sense you surrender to the universal energy you are part of. You are not ashamed, regretful or guilty. You are relieved.

Close by saying ‘I love you, I thank you’. It is about loving yourself and your inner energy. It is about expressing gratitude, the noblest of all emotions, to the extension of your energy in the Universe.

As more memories arise and you repeat these words, I am sorry, Please forgive me, I love you, I thank you, you will find yourself being healed.

Practice a Ho’oponopono Meditation

Why Ho’oponopono works

Ho’oponopono is not a cognitive process. It is an emotional, spiritual, and energy process. Why I think it works:

  1. Ho’oponopono creates a transformational shift from a normal habit of blaming others for their negative situation or even ours to one of taking responsibility even if it has nothing to do with us.
  2.  Once we accept responsibility, our universal nature of forgiving and loving takes over as a healing process for us and others.
  3.  Many social studies and experiences have shown that despite our seemingly selfish desires, deep within we like to be of value to others. This process provides that possibility.
  4.  Finally, internal reflection of what in me caused this negativity in someone else allows us to clear the conditioned baggage of negativity and transform.

You do not need faith to believe in Ho’oponopono blindly. All you need is the intelligence to seek help to help yourself. You need vulnerability and humility to practice it.

Ram Ramanathan, MCC
Ram Ramanathan, MCC


Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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