What is ho’ponopono?
Ho’ponopono is an ancient Hawaiian prayer for forgiveness and reconciliation. Traditionally it was used by indigenous Hawaiian healers. Its meaning is “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I thank you. I love you.”
In recent years it has been used as a new age practise for forgiveness.
One interpretation of this prayer is a way to take accountability, pray with your ancestors for reconciliation and to cleanse ‘errors of thought’.
Black Lives Matter and Accountability
As the Black Lives Matter movement has globally expanded after the death of George Floyd, the ho’ponopono prayer can be a good starting point for people to practise taking accountability and healing within themselves, instead of just creating a spectacle of activism.
As a white person myself, I think it is especially easy to just ignore white privilege and to ignore racism altogether, because we are not the ones that actually have to survive the repercussions of it.
However, if you are someone that really cares about creating a peaceful and unified world, and if you care about black people, then you have to acknowledge white history, the racism still present in the world and the ways you might contribute to it.
So far, 2020 has truly been a year of 2020 vision. Injustices of the world are being exposed into the light, and every person is finally being asked to look deep into themselves to take accountability for the state of the world as a whole.
I want to offer a prayer that anyone can use at any time. I think this is a good prayer if you are overwhelmed with information, have no idea where to start or if you just like the use of mantra and prayer as a healing practise.
How to practise ho’ponopono
To begin, find a quiet spot for yourself, and chant this prayer in repetition. It can also help to place your hand over your heart as you do this.
There are four stages to the ho’ponopono prayer. As you chant the ho’ponopono, move through these four stages, repeating each stage as many times as you would like.
You can either repeat ‘ho’ponopono’ as you think about the stages, or you can alternate between ho’ponopono and verbally chanting each stage.
1. I’m sorry
This stage brings attention to the huge amounts of pain caused by racism. It acknowledges a violent history perpetrated by white people, and the emotional pain that has been passed through generations of Black people. The word sorry should never be about making yourself feel better, it should be a sign of genuine acknowledgement and understanding. This stage asks you to look for and to take accountability for any harmful subconscious beliefs you have ever personally held. As you repeat and deepen this practise, you can even take it one step further and take accountability on behalf of the rest of the world and it’s history.
2. Please forgive me
This stage of the prayer asks for forgiveness. Asking for forgiveness doesn’t make it okay, it doesn’t erase the past, but it will allow you to acknowledge the changes that you want to now make in your thoughts, beliefs and actions. Asking for forgiveness proposes peace and offers a promise that you will commit to the changes you want to make.
3. I thank you
Stage three is all about gratitude, and sinking into feeling genuine gratefulness for everything that Black culture and Black people have given to the world.
4. I love you
After gratitude, the last stage is about love. This is the most powerful healing energy we can put out into the world. After acknowledging the suffering and the pain present in the world, just offer your love. At our very core, the essence of all human beings is love. We need to be loved, and we need to love. On a deep spiritual level, there is no real division when we see that we are all love. So focus all of your attention onto loving awareness.
Do the inner work, then take it out into the world
All of us are deeply connected at a cellular level. Because everything is energy, the thoughts and words we put out into the universe have a huge influence on the rest of the world. Even if you do not believe this, getting in touch with your visceral emotions can create an inner space of love and clarity before taking any action.
We can research and write using intellect, we can try to make a change in our communities with online platforms, we can sign petitions and donate. This is all great, and this action is just as important as doing the inner work, but this practise can easily become performative if you haven’t made the deep acknowledgements and changes deep inside you first.
Doing the inner work first rather than jumping to prove you are on the bandwagon, means that any action you might choose to take afterwards will be from a genuine, heart-centred place. Hopefully the ho’ponopono prayer is a helpful place to start.